The Defiance City Board of Education learned about a program that is providing free breakfast and lunch to district students, was given information about a grant to help provide internet access to district families, and discussed a state-wide policy in which schools must provide information to parents and county health departments in the event of positive COVID-19 tests.
The board also heard via telephone from Defiance County Community Improvement Corporation executive director Jerry Hayes about a Community Reinvestment Area application (see related story, Page A7), discussed the start of the school year and heard about changes voted on by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (see related story, Page B4).
Morton shared the district was notified Tuesday it received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Seamless Summer Meals program that is allowing the school to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students through Dec. 31, or until the program funds are depleted.
Information has been sent to parents/guardians, including to families with students doing virtual learning, who can sign up to pick up meals. Free breakfast and lunch began for all students on Tuesday. The district will submit how many meals it serves monthly, and is then reimbursed through the program.
In addition to receiving funds for the meals, the district has received an Ohio Broadband Connectivity Grant.
“This is a federal grant, we applied for $22,500 and received $20,000,” said Morton. “This will give us the ability to provide internet access for families who don’t have internet, or reliable internet, in the event school has to go to remote learning. This will also allow us to help families who are doing virtual learning who don’t have reliable internet, or lose access to internet connectivity.
“If you remember, we purchased Jetpacks (through Verizon) last spring, and currently we have three families who are using them,” added Morton. “This grant helps us pay for the service to run the Jetpacks.”
On Friday, schools in Ohio learned from the state that they have been directed to notify other parents/guardians about positive COVID-19 tests if/when they arise, as well as notify their county health departments. Schools received the following information from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office:
“Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8, parents or guardians and school staff should notify their school within 24 hours of receiving a positive (COVID-19) test or a clinical diagnosis. Within 24 hours after receiving that notification, the school should notify other parents and guardians about that case in writing, providing as much information as possible without releasing protected health information. The school must also notify its local health department within 24 hours.
“Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15, and each Tuesday thereafter, local health departments will report the number of newly reported and cumulative cases to the Ohio Department of Health. The Ohio Department of Health will publish this data by school or school district, including a breakdown by students and staff, each Thursday.
“We understand there is a balance between privacy and transparency, and we do not intend for protected health information to be released in our effort to provide information to Ohioans so they can make the right decisions for their family,” said DeWine. “Please remember that if a school has positive cases among their students or staff, it does not mean the school did anything wrong. Schools cannot control the spread in the community, so it is important to practice safety measures not only in the classroom, but also when you’re out in the community.”
“The order will also require each school district or school to identify a COVID-19 coordinator to facilitate the reporting of case information, and upon request, schools or buildings are required to provide the local health department a copy of their pandemic plan.”
Morton told the board he has named himself COVID-19 coordinator for Defiance City Schools.
In other business, the board:
• approved a revised school calendar for 2020-21 that includes the following changes: Aug. 31 from a student day to a teacher in-service day; and the following two-hour delayed start days to regular-hour school days: Sept. 29; Oct. 27; Nov. 17; Jan. 26, 2021; Feb. 23, 2021; March 30, 2021; and May 25, 2021.
• okayed a medical leave of absence for the following individuals: Deena Karnes from approximately Sept. 1-Oct. 20; and Rebecca Spitnale from Aug. 20-Oct. 20.
• voted to employ the following individuals for 2020-21: Emily Clark as a home instructor as needed; Patti McCord as Title I teacher at Holy Cross Catholic School, 4.5 hours per day, two days per week, as long as grant funds are available; and Audrey Eis, Title I teacher at St. John Lutheran School, five hours per day, two days per week, as long as grant funds are available; Tim Vargo, bus driver, four hours per day, effective Sept. 8; and Jennifer Ziegler, substitute secretary, as needed.
• accepted the resignation of Bonnie Downey, Defiance Elementary dishroom, three hours per day, effective Sept. 4; and of Laura Myers, bus driver, four hours per day, effective Sept. 4, and hired Myers as a substitute bus driver as needed.
• approved the NwOESC substitute teacher list for 2020-21, as needed.
• accepted the following donations: $100 from Rick and Cathy Davis to Defiance High School football in honor of the seniors of the 2020 team; $80 from Ken and Carrie Wetstein to be used toward locker signs for girls’ tennis; a Fender Squier “J Bass” guitar from Tim Brown worth $200; $4,000 from the United Way of Defiance County to be used for kindergarten classes; and craft supplies from JoAnn Fabrics valued at $4,720.33.