The reopening of school, and the results of a community survey from parents/guardians of Defiance City Schools’ students, were the main topics of discussion during a regular meeting of the Defiance City Board of Education on Wednesday.
Last month, superintendent Bob Morton explained that school districts in Ohio were awaiting guidance from the state about reopening schools. After receiving guidance last week, he discussed a reopening agreement that superintendents in Defiance County have been working on about reopening under that guidance.
“We’re going to take the recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Department of Education, and in collaboration with Defiance County schools and the Defiance County Health Department, we’re going to develop a common reopening agreement that we’ll all abide by together.
“The rationale behind that is our health department will know the premises that all schools in the county will operate under in following safety protocols,” continued Morton. “This is exactly what other counties in the surrounding area are doing. The documents we received from the state will be the guiding principles on our decisions. Those are public documents that can be found on the Ohio Department of Education website.”
Morton shared discussions with superintendents and officials from the Defiance County Department of Health have focused on: communication with students, parents and staff about COVID-19; health issues not related to COVID-19; food service; busing; recess; classroom spacing; remote learning for families who don’t wish to send their children back to school; athletics; and how to address visitors, volunteers, etc ...
“These are the items we are working on in collaboration with each other,” said Morton. “The plans will focus first and foremost on the safety of children and employees of the districts. We will all meet Monday at Tinora Elementary School to put together the final agreement, which will be available, most likely, on Tuesday.”
Morton shared the results of a community survey that was emailed to parents/guardians of students following the June 22 meeting of the board, and was made available on the district’s website, social media and defiancecityschools.org. The district received 410 responses (approximately 17% or so of families).
The survey asked: “What did the district do well during remote learning?” “What can we be better at with remote learning?” “How much time was spent doing remote learning?” “How did we do with communication?” “How good is your internet connectivity?” “Do you need help with social-emotional support?” “What was your food situation during the school shutdown?” “Will you send your child to school when it reopens?” etc ...
“What our parents are looking at as far as remote learning, is that the district could be more consistent in how we deliver content,” said Morton. “Parents felt we did the best we could under the circumstances, they liked the way we communicated, and we found that about 80% had good internet, some had slow internet, and some only through a smartphone.”
“We also found that 70% of our respondents want to go back to school with safety protocols in place, about 27% are unsure because they want to know more about the safety protocols, and a small fraction don’t want to return to school,” added Morton. “That’s why we have to create a remote option for those who don’t feel safe, or because their child/children have an underlying health condition and can’t return.”
Following that discussion, Morton gave a brief update on the Defiance Community Auditorium updates, saying: “The auditorium is completely covered in plastic. The ceiling and upstairs of the building has been painted, and painting is moving downstairs. When it’s all finished, it’s going to look outstanding.”
In other business, the board:
• accepted the resignation of the following individuals: Rafael Manriquez as a middle school social studies teacher, effective July 31, and as girls soccer coach; and Jodi Bays as high school family and consumer science teacher, effective Aug. 15.
• approved extended time for the following individuals: Sam Manz, high school counselor, 20 days; Thom Singer, high school counselor, 20 days; Ashley Peters, high school counselor, 20 days; Bryn Lehman, high school technology, 15 days; Cathy Booth, high school band director, 11 days; Christa Jones, high school band assistant, eight days; Julie Brown, high school special education department head, five days; Kevin Kline, DECA, five days; and Jeannie Mansfield, librarian, 10 days.
• okayed the transfers of the following individuals: Judy Schultz from high school attendance secretary to high school principal secretary, effective 2020-21; and Lisa Phipps from high school special education to middle school social studies.
• voted to employ Cheryl Westrick as central office secretary, six hours per day, effective Aug. 3; Bethany Lamb as family and consumer science teacher; and Chad Donsbach as high school MD unit educational aide at 7.5 hours per day, effective with 2020-21, based on the reduction in force approved at the June 22 meeting.
• approved the following substitutes for 2020-21: Linda Booher, cafeteria; Loida Torres, support staff; Melissa Peck, aide; and Jennifer Ziegler, aide.
• accepted the resignation of Jenny Vincent as girls varsity assistant soccer coach, and hired her as girls varsity head coach for 2020-21.
• okayed Nathan Headley as head girls varsity basketball coach, and to run the summer and elementary girls basketball programs; and Britt Gerken and Daniel Crowe as junior high assistant football coaches.
• voted for the NwOESC substitute teachers for 2020-21.