So far, quite well: Superintendents say local schools safe due to group efforts of students, families and staffs

By John Hamilton -

CLINTON COUNTY — School superintendents feel a recent study’s result reflects the efforts of students, families and school staffs.

An recent article in WalletHub indicated Ohio as the seventh safest state for schools to reopen. The methodology compared the 50 states across two key dimensions: the risk of COVID-19 infections (cases and deaths per 100,000 deaths, public mask usage, etc.); and health and financial infrastructure (comprehensive school reopening guidance, total current spending on schools, etc.).

The article also spoke to a panel of experts to get more insight into reopening school during the pandemic.

In seventh place, Ohio received a score of 66.54. Vermont ranked at number one with a score of 80.48, with Mississippi at the bottom with 43.04.

East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee is thankful for the tremendous cooperation between state and local agencies, as well as all the planning his administrators put into getting the year started.

“I am thankful that the driving factor in the decision-making processes in this situation has been the health and well-being of students,” Magee said in regards to the WalletHub article.

Wilmington City School Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart said students and staff are doing a great job at following prevention methods.

“They are respecting the safety of others by wearing their masks, frequently washing hands and sanitizing commonly touched surfaces,” said McCarty-Stewart.

She told the News Journal that students are getting their temperature checked twice a day at school and are adhering to social distancing whenever possible.

“We have a strong partnership with our families and everyone is cautiously monitoring symptoms, getting tested for COVID-19 when needed, and participating in contact tracing when necessary,” she said. “It is the combined efforts of everyone that we have managed to control the spread of the virus in the school setting.”

Clinton-Massie Superintendent Matt Baker was glad to see Ohio ranked so high.

“I know we are working hard at Clinton-Massie to ensure as safe of an environment as possible,” said Baker.

Clint0n-Massie has had additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols in place, they’ve been trying to distance as much as possible classrooms, and they’ve been able to distance themselves in lunchrooms by extending space into hallways and the gym.

Blanchester Superintendent Dean Lynch said it was “nice for Ohio to received such a ranking” but the info “isn’t much to school administrators trying to run the day-to-day operations.”

Safety day-to-day

East Clinton offered a choice of either in-school or online learning for students. The in-person setting started with a blended model — students were divided into A and B groups. Group A attended Mondays and Tuesdays, while Group B attended Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays were scheduled as remote learning days for all.

“After a three-week period of training students in new procedures such as hand sanitizing and social distancing, we began to bring both A and B groups together on each of the four days, retaining Wednesdays as a remote learning day,” said Magee. “Wednesdays will remain remote learning days until the first quarter ends on Oct 9. Beginning the week of October 12, all in-person students will attend school five days per week.”

He added that masks are required for all staff and students.

For Blanchester, Lynch said they haven’t experienced any positives cases. Lynch credits the staff, students and their parents for being supportive and consistent with implementing reopening plan.

“I can’t praise everyone enough for their understanding and help as we navigate through these times. We’ll continue doing what has worked for us these last five to six weeks and adjust accordingly,” said Lynch.

The first month back was described as refreshing by Magee.

“We spent so much time in planning, it was good to get to see the students and have those interactions with them. As with any new endeavor, there is always a learning curve,” he said.

He hopes the remainder of the school year they learn to “rise to the occasion” and continue to learn new practices that will keep everyone safe.

“This is a quality that can be found within each of us. When we do this in a collective fashion, something special can occur,” said Magee. “I want our students to know that no matter what life circumstances may come their way, they each have the ability to rise to the challenge.”

Baker said “So far so good. We are experiencing low COVID positive case numbers.”

Lynch indicated there were some issues that weren’t thought of as they prepared over the summer to re-open.

“But once employees, students, and parents got themselves into a routine, things began to settle down,” said Lynch. “I’m very impressed with the way our students have handled their responsibilities at school. I’m very proud of each and every one of them.”

Magee also gave a special thanks to the Clinton County Health Department and Director Pam Bauer for their support.

“They understand the seriousness of the virus, but also the importance of what school means to our students,” said Magee.

McCarty-Stewart hopes to continue the success of preventing the spread throughout the year.

“It is our goal to provide the best learning opportunities for all of our students at WCS while maintaining health and safety as a priority,” she said.

Baker hopes they can make it through the year without going fully remote.

“Thank you to all the parents, caregivers, grandparents, staff, students, and administrators for their hard work so that we can keep our kids safe,” said Baker.

Lynch is hoping that restrictions are removed as soon as possible.

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By John Hamilton

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574