ELIDA — The Elida school board Tuesday night discussed restarting the school year.
Bill Kellermeyer, Elida education vice president, told the board that they “want to come back to school — but at the right pace.”
He says they are concerned whether’s there are enough personal protective devices to go around as well as whether other things like roster assignments and whether class assignments are ready when school opens Aug. 12 for students, which is a day later than planned. The teachers will start this coming Monday where there will be two professional development days for staff and teachers prior to the students’ arrival.
“I think there’s teachers just feeling like we don’t know where we stand with everything and we know that we’re trying to put the best plans together with fluid information and we know we’re early because of our construction project. But we just feel like we’re in a position like we were in in March. We went out on a moment’s notice. Now we’re coming back and we feel like we’re not that better,” said Kellermeyer.
Another concern was voiced by Dennis Fricke, head of the unionized bus drivers who said there needed to be more hand sanitizer available on the buses.
He’s also heard from several bus drivers and substitutes, who are older, who are considering not driving this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s a real concern being the first line meeting these kids. There’s nothing protecting the bus drivers other than the mask,” Fricke said.
Dr. Wilfred Ellis, board president with Allen County Public Health, also addressed the board and warned that “this virus is very infectious. If one person has it and there’s a group, the spreading (of the virus) is significant,” Ellis said. “The entire populace can be infected,” and “a small number of children will have serious problems,” Ellis said.
Ellis indicated the numbers show the virus is spreading.
“One hundred and 20 people in April (tested positive). In July in Allen County, we had 335 (cases). We tripled the caseload from April to July. That’s the underlying reason why we went from orange to nearly purple,” Ellis said.
But Ellis says there is hope.
“We have to be careful and do things to protect our community. We may be able to manage the situation if we do things the right way,” Ellis said.
Ellis warns the virus isn’t leaving anytime soon.
“I fully expect we’re going to see some problems with COVID-19 later in the year, in late fall. The problem could also be in January and February,” Ellis said.
He was also concerned that “we’ll have COVID and influenza at the same time,” Ellis said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that schools reopen.
“To do so, we have to do it safely and adapt the guidelines from the CDC,” Ellis said. “We can open the schools if we do it correctly.”
As for sports, Ellis was concerned.
“It’s going to be tremendously difficult to have fall sports,” Ellis said.
“It’s going to be difficult to have a season,” Ellis said. “It’s in the hands of the governor and the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Don’t be surprised if the board of health cancels fall sports.”
On Tuesday, the governor mandated mask usage for those in K-12. The Elida school board adopted a mask policy to reflect that change.
The board also approved the reopening plan and the remote learning plan.
Sign up for the remote learning option was significant, according to superintendent Joel Mengerink, with a total of 408 students taking that option.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.