The Defiance City Board of Education was presented with information about COVID-19 vaccinations for staff, and was given an update about LifeWise Academy, a released time religious instruction (RTRI) program for students that takes place off school grounds, during its regular meeting Wednesday.

Morton reported Defiance City Schools, Central Local Schools and Northeastern Local Schools, have partnered with ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital to administer the vaccine to staff at each district who have elected to receive it. The first round of vaccinations will take place Feb. 26 between 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at the hospital. Each staff member from the three districts will be randomly assigned a time to get vaccinated.

“About 77% of our employees have elected to get vaccinated, which is about 200 total,” said Morton. “There will be a vaccination clinic set up, with six vaccination stations at ProMedica, with everyone assigned a time to get vaccinated. After getting vaccinated, each employee will be scheduled for their second vaccination. Depending on the vaccine administered, they will return in three weeks (if Pfizer) or four weeks (Moderna).

“What I like about going to ProMedica, is they have a system they use all across their facilities in Ohio and Michigan to make it the safest most efficient way to do it,” continued Morton. “They also have emergency services on site in the unlikely event someone would have a reaction to the vaccine. We can’t thank ProMedica enough for their efforts.”

A meeting with the teachers to discuss procedures for vaccination will take place Friday, with a meeting with classified personnel scheduled for Tuesday. Morton shared that with so many staff coming in and out of the building on Feb. 26, options for that day include a remote learning day for students, or possibly no school.

Morton also shared that he first brought information about LifeWise Academy to the board in December of 2019. LifeWise Academy falls under the ministry of Stand for Truth, founded by Joel Penton of Van Wert, a member of the 2002 Ohio State National Championship football team.

RTRI is legal at public school districts for the following reasons: Students can only take part in the program with parental permission; it is entirely privately funded; and it’s held off school property, even though it takes place during school hours.

“This character education program is faith-based, and just so you know, we already have a policy in place to allow faith-based programming in our district,” said Morton back in 2019. “LifeWise Academy is spearheaded by Phil and Robin Nofziger, whom many of you know.”

On Wednesday, Morton explained the program was put on hold due to the pandemic. LifeWise Academy is in the process of acquiring property off campus near Defiance City Schools to house the program, which could start at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. The superintendent is hopeful the Nofzigers will present more information about LifeWise Academy at a future board meeting.

At present, Ayersville Local Schools and Wayne Trace Local Schools are area districts that currently have LifeWise programs.

In her report, Cheryl Swisher, CFO/treasurer, explained the annual audit report has been filed with the state auditor, and no citations were found. In addition, Swisher shared information to board members about business travel accidental death and dismemberment coverage through the Ohio School Boards Association. Each member gets $100,000 free, with other coverage available to purchase if members choose to do so.

In other business, the board:

• accepted the retirement/resignation of Candy Leal, student services secretary, effective July 1. Leal has served the district for 28 years; the resignation of Miranda Gomes, Defiance Elementary cashier, three hours per day, effective Feb. 22; and the resignation of Cooper Morton, middle school girls assistant track coach.

• approved the employment of Chris Rowlinson as freshman baseball coach for 2020-21.

• okayed the updated list of substitute teacher from the NwOESC.

• accepted the following donation: $15.59 from Kate Smolik to Defiance Elementary to purchase library books.

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