NAPOLEON — Modifications to the current Napoleon Area City Schools bus routes were approved by the Napoleon Area Board of Education on Wednesday. The board also was presented information about COVID-19 vaccinations for staff in the district who choose to get vaccinated.
In addition, business manager Cory Niekamp gave an update on parking projects previously discussed at past board meetings (see related story, page A3).
At the beginning of the school year, the board passed a resolution to not provide transportation for students who live within two miles of their respective schools (with some exceptions), in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Following new quarantine guidelines from the state, in which quarantines for close contact of students who test positive for the virus as long exposure happened at school (including on a bus and while wearing a mask, excluding exposure during extra-curricular events), led to the district revisiting its policy.
On Wednesday, the board approved to allow transportation to students who live 1 3/4 miles away and beyond from their respective schools. Superintendent Erik Belcher explained that the change will affect about 70 students, and it will eliminate students who walk from having to cross Ohio 108.
“We’re not changing any of our protocols, we’re still cleaning in the same way, we’re having everyone wear masks, washing hands ... it’s been working for us and we’re not about to change that,” said Belcher about how the change will be handled. “This will make it safer for our kids because many of them won’t have to cross (Ohio) 108, a major road, to get to school.
“The decision to not bus kids within two miles was originally made with the safety of kids in mind,” added Belcher. “Now that guidelines have changed, we can still do it safely, and making it better for more families. Our intent was to start this way, and if things changed, to allow more kids back on the bus. Our goal from the beginning was to have kids in school.”
Transportation supervisor Jeff Nicely shared that letters have been sent out to parents/guardians who will be affected by the change, which will take place starting Tuesday.
Belcher also shared that staff who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will get their first shot Feb. 19 between 9 a.m.-noon. The Henry County Health Department will lead the effort to vaccinate staff (approximately 80% have elected to be vaccinated), which will take place somewhere on district property.
“It will take place on district property,” said Belcher. “That day, we’ve elected to have a remote learning day for our students, because of the number of people who will be vaccinated. There are a lot of moving parts that will take place that day, which is why we felt it was better to have a remote day that day.
“Our biggest fear at the beginning of the year was that we would have an outbreak among the staff and we would have to pause in-person learning for an extended period,” added Belcher. “The safety of our kids and staff has been our biggest priority, and with our staff now preparing to get vaccinated, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. This should allow us to keep school in session for the rest of the school year.”
In other business, the board:
• approve FMLA leave for Peggy Mossing from approximately Jan. 19 for up to 12 weeks; and FMLA leave for Peter Gerken from approximately Jan. 26 for up to 12 weeks.
• okayed the transfer of Courtney Knapp to a six-hour assistant cook position at Napoleon Elementary, effective Feb. 1.
• accepted the resignation of Rita Cordes, Napoleon Elementary secretary, effective April 1. Cordes has served the district for 28 years.
• voted for Chad Brubaker as junior high boys track coach for 2020-21.
• approved the following coaches for 2021-21: Jeff Ressler, boys cross country; Trisha Otto, girls cross country; Tory Strock, football; Casten Reed, golf; Chris Delfavero, boys soccer; Nathan Butler, girls tennis; Danielle Cramer, volleyball; Tyler Swary, Karl Yunker and Ken Bostelman, assistant football; Seth Izor, assistant boys soccer; Louise Hill, assistant volleyball; Jena Riseborough, freshman volleyball; Sara Gilson, junior high cross country; Doug Edwards (eighth) and Alex Glassford (seventh), junior high football; Lynne Debbe (seventh) and Haley Burdue (eight) junior high volleyball; and Brett Cordy and Nick Rettig, junior high football assistants.
• okayed the following substitute positions for 2020-21: Jadyn Fenstermaker, cafe and secretary, effective Jan. 27; and Flora Melchor, cafe, effective Jan. 28.
• voted for the following students for early graduation: Maiah Burns, Madyson Cutcher, Alexis Dunbar and Sulema Granados.
• approved the following individuals for the April 14-16 kindergarten clinic: Bev Curtis (hearing), three days; and Janice Knepley, (medical records), three days.
• okayed the following updated agreements for occupational and physical therapy services, psychologist services and speech therapist services with the NwOESC for St. Augustine Catholic School, St. John Lutheran School and St. Paul Lutheran School.
• voted for the substitute list for teachers and paraprofessionals from the NwOESC for 2020-21.
• accepted the the following donations: 120 dictionaries from the Napoleon Lions Club and the Henry County Retired Teachers’ Association to Napoleon third-grade students; and 13 coats from Cousino Restoration to Napoleon Elementary School.