October 21 School Board Meeting Talking Points
Posted on 10/22/2020
  1. Good evening. I appreciate the opportunity to share our Return to School Buildings plan.
  2. You will hear more specific health metrics in a few minutes, but I want to update you based on our COVID-19 dashboard, which you can find at pwcs.edu.
  3. Since school began, PWCS has reported more than 100 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus. Some of those cases have affected individuals currently working or attending school in-person, and many of those cases have been in individuals working or learning virtually.
  4. It is important to note that as we prepare to bring students back for in-person learning in November, had all 100 of these cases been in-person cases, we would have had people in quarantine at 57 schools or offices in our Division, which is more than half of our total schools, which is a concern.
  5. Many people have also mentioned their concern for the mental health of our students during this pandemic. This work is led by Associate Superintendent Denise Huebner, who also chairs our Pandemic Team. I would like to address that concern and have invited Rebekah Schlatter, director of student services, Dr. Deborah Ransom, supervisor of elementary school counseling, and Dr. Richmond Hill, supervisor of secondary school counseling, to share more information on this critical service. 
  6. Thank you, Ms. Huebner, Ms. Schlatter, Dr. Ransom, and Dr. Hill, for sharing this information.
  7. In a few minutes I will be sharing more details on the return to in-person learning in our school buildings for our middle and high school students. I have asked Bill Bixby, associate superintendent for middle schools, Catherine Porter-Lucas, principal of Gainesville Middle School, and Jim Dutrow, principal of Lake Ridge Middle School, to share efforts being made for the safe return of our middle school students to the school buildings.
  8. Thank you, Mr. Bixby, Ms. Porter-Lucas and Mr. Dutrow.
  9. As we prepare for our youngest students to return to the school buildings, I would like everyone to know that every kindergarten teacher who does not already have an assistant will have an additional staff member in the classroom to help manage our students during the first eight days.
  10. Furthermore, tonight, the Division hired two nurses, and will be hiring five additional health aides who will report directly to Teresa Polk, supervisor of student health services, to be used across the Division as needed.
  11. Now I would like to re-introduce Denise Huebner, associate superintendent for special education and student services, Teresa Polk, supervisor of student health services, and Gina Bellamy, administrative coordinator of student health services, who will provide you an update on our health metrics.
  12. Thank you, Ms. Huebner, Ms. Polk and Ms. Bellamy.
  13. At the last School Board meeting, I shared plans to bring back our youngest students to the school buildings beginning next month. The School Board has asked me to provide information on the return of our middle and high school students to in-person learning in our school buildings.
  14. It is important to note that the Return to School Buildings plan is tentative based on health metrics and available staffing at the time.
  15. My plan is to have 6th-and-9th-grade students, House A, return to in-person learning in school buildings, two-days per week, beginning January 26, 2021. House B will return on January 27.
  16. With the initial phasing in of 6th-and-9th-grade students, instruction and transportation would need to evaluate and determine if a one-run bus schedule can continue or if a two-run bus schedule would need to be implemented on January 26th.
  17. The high school students would revert back to a start time of 7:30 a.m. on January 26.
  18. The asynchronous days for student learning will continue on every Monday, with the exception of President’s Day, in February.
  19. Again, based on health metrics and availability of staff, 7th -, 8th -, 10th - 11th -, and-12th - grade students, House A, will return to in-person learning in school buildings, two days per week, beginning February 2, 2021. House B will return on February 3.
  20. Middle and high school teachers will report in person, beginning on January 25 to prepare classrooms, check technology, and assist with preparation. Exceptions to in-person reporting will be made by the principal or his or her designee on a case-by-case basis.
  21. We have kept our Division health plan updated to ensure we are implementing the best measures possible to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
  22. Thank you.
  23. My wish is for our entire PWCS community to stay safe and healthy.