During their Monday evening meeting, the Fairfield Area School District discussed early preparations for the children's return to school on a more normal schedule, but warned that it might take a while to do so.
Superintendent Michael Adamek hopes the cases of COVID-19 will decline enough that schools can fully reopen.
"At this point, I hopefully think that we have this vacation time behind us, in which our normal, everyday – hopefully normal, everyday – routines are coming and our children and our employees cannot spread the positive COVID cases", said Adamek.
The district signed a state-mandated certification form in November. The district may choose to stay open but follow state orders or stay out of the way until the county is in "low" broadcast area for two consecutive weeks. Adams County is currently in "significant" broadcast area.
Adamek said the school administration wants to continue to keep elementary schools on an A / B schedule and bring secondary students on a similar schedule, with Monday being a virtual day for all students.
Adamek said a five-day schedule isn't yet possible, but the hybrid schedule should work with the safety plan to help the kids face their teachers personally.
"If we work five days a week and the metrics and everything say it's safe for us to come back like this, it's just like starting every school year if we bring kids five days a week "said Adamek. “We're ready to have the kids five days a week. It's determined by the metrics that say it's safe and ready to come back. Social distancing, six feet, is no longer the subject of determination. On this one We're ready at one point. "
Jennifer Holz, vice chairwoman of the board of directors, warned that just because Adams will eventually enter the “moderate” phase, schools cannot reopen immediately.
"A low transfer rate is not the same as 'moderate'," said Holz. “So we moved to a hybrid schedule when we were in a moderate phase. We are currently in a significant phase. So we have to jump two levels to bring the kids back five days a week. As soon as our phase goes one level deeper, I don't want the expectation to be set that the children will return automatically five days a week. There is a lot that has to go together. "
Board member Jack Liller asked why he had heard of other elementary schools in the area that are open five days a week while Fairfield has an A / B schedule.
Adamek said he was unaware of elementary schools in the county that were open five days a week and that he would look into them.
The Board discussed whether a vote would be required in order to revert to a regular schedule in due course.
Adamek said he can put the issue on the next agenda. The board of directors can vote to allow the district to resume its normal schedule as soon as conditions are safe whenever that happens. The aim is to free the administration to make preparations and alert parents as soon as possible, rather than waiting for a vote on the board to reopen schools.
Approval month of the school principal
Adamek recognized the long, unpaid hours board members invest in the district.
"I hope the people in the ward understand that what you are doing is very difficult and that you are doing it because you want the best for all the children in the district," he said.
A certificate of appreciation from the district is presented to each board member.
The Fairfield Education Association will make a donation to Ruth's harvest in honor of the school board.
Sports field cameras
Sports director Crystal Heller said athletics went on but was difficult during the pandemic. Children have practiced in masks and games are sometimes postponed at the last minute.
"We continue to take one step at a time every day, one day at a time, one week at a time," said Heller. "That was our motto this season because you just don't know what's going to happen."
Liller praised the quality of the existing sports cameras and asked if it would be possible to add additional outdoor cameras.
"More than COVID-wise, we have parents who work and can't come to a game and they can see it," he said. “I think, for security reasons, our security guards need to be able to go back and see this for a variety of reasons. So I would ask if you could get an estimate for – I know we have soccer, we got the gyms done – if you could get an estimate for baseball, and the other I think is softball and field hockey … And if we have to do something to raise funds or whatever, but I think every kid who plays sports should have an opportunity to save their high school memories like the basketball players, wrestlers and soccer players. "
Heller said the extra cameras might not be an option until late spring or summer, but she would check out quotes.
She also agreed to a request from a board member to add rosters to the website to make it easier to follow online games.
A parent of a child struggling with significant mental health problems asked the board what the district could do to better meet the needs of people with similar problems.
The board recommended talking to counselors and teachers and registering the child as a point of sale for the sport. Two board members offered to cover athlete enrollment costs or forward them to resources that could help cover the costs.
The board confirmed the resignation of his part-time assistant in the health room with effect from Friday. The promotion for the position was on the approval agenda but was tabled until the next meeting.
The district has signed a contract with a nursing service to fill the void and an administrator is helping with office work that includes tracking contracts.
The Board also discussed updating the Health Room Assistant job title to better reflect the nursing responsibilities of the position, as some members felt this sounded more administrative than nursing. They were also concerned that job seekers looking for a nursing job would not look for that title on job search websites.
The Executive Board can take up the topic again at its next meeting.
Amy Simmons, business manager, said the district is working on a Covid-19 grant. Although it is not yet open for applications, the district will finalize the application so it can be submitted when the window opens.
She also said the district is seeking candidates to fill a food service position and plans to schedule interviews soon.
Liller hopes the school menus will be updated.
"I don't know what the expectations are for this person," said Liller. "I suspect the menus and all that goes with them. I really mean, I mean, this is for the future when we have the chance to talk to these people, but I got the chance to see some of the lunches and actually that have been brought home. We really, really have to work on that. "
Simmons also said the department was working on new menus.
The next regular school council meeting will take place on February 8th at 7 p.m.
Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a newspaper reporter for five years before going freelance in 2017. She has written about crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.
You can visit their website at ImariJournal.com.