NORTH CRAWFORD - North Crawford’s hybrid ‘Return to Learn’ model seems to be working, and helping the district, staff, students and families make the best of a difficult situation.
Other school districts in the region have had to make more drastic changes and shifts to deal with outbreaks in their student and staff populations, so it seems the approach taken by North Crawford was likely prudent.
North Crawford Superintendent Brandon Munson reports that as of November 14, 35 elementary students and 24 middle school/high school students had visited the school nurse John Powell to be screened for possible COVID symptoms. As of that date, 85 students and 18 members of the staff had been excluded from school pending the results of a COVID test or to quarantine because of a known or suspected exposure. In total, the district has had three positive tests among students, and one among the staff.
Munson said that the district had also held a flu vaccine clinic on September 29 and October 1, and were able to vaccinate approximately 115 students and staff members.
“I can’t thank the board enough for agreeing to hire a full time school nurse during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Munson said. “Without that position in place, navigating through this situation would have been much more difficult.”
Extra help and support
Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin reported that a special, socially-distanced, classroom had been established at the Old Gays Mills Community Building recently for kids who had been “struggling with the virtual learning format.” He said that 15 students who had increasing numbers of missing assignments in the last few weeks had been assigned to this special classroom. The intention is to provide them with extra teacher attention to get them back up to speed.
“Students will be bussed there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” Tripalin explained. “We are starting with our high school students, and will evaluate on an ongoing basis which students need this support and expand the group if needed.”
He said that another support being put in place is mandatory Zoom meetings for students with numerous missing assignments. These meetings will take place on Wednesdays, from 1-3 p.m. The purpose of the meetings is to ensure that students are receiving the help they need.
Principal Tripalin also updated the board about an addition he has made to the district’s attendance policy for the days when students are learning virtually. The modification is based on the Driftless Virtual Academy’s policy. It reads:
“Students in our hybrid model have required attendance checks when they are not in the building which also fall under the district attendance policies. Students have four attendance checks on Monday/Tuesday, or Thursday/Friday, depending on which days they are learning virtually in the hybrid model. If students don’t complete their check in forms or have all work completed for a particular class, they will be marked absent. Students also have two advisory periods that they have to participate in on Wednesdays, which are live Zoom or Google Meet meetings. In addition, students that have missing assignments may be assigned a Zoom meeting on Wednesday afternoons for which attendance is also mandatory. Students that continue to need additional support may be required to attend guided learning sessions at the Old Gays Mills Community Building, where they will have their Chromebooks, and will be advised by a North Crawford staff member. Attendance at these meetings on a student’s virtual days is also mandatory, and failure to attend these obligatory meetings may cause a student to fall into our truancy policies.”
Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen reports that elementary teachers are continuing a focus on teaching students to use the virtual tools necessary for Wednesday learning. She said that the teachers are learning right alongside the students.
“We are using this learning to put together expectations for full distance learning should classrooms have to make that transition,” Kileen explained. “I want to give a shout out to our amazing staff for the extra efforts they are making this school year.”
Kileen also reported that teachers had been making full use of the North Crawford grounds to provide learning experiences.
“You will often find classes taking a break and hiking the hill, reading in the grass, or singing outside,” Killeen said. “We are thankful that our beautiful grounds support this safer learning environment.”
Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin described for the board the activities that had taken place in the district to celebrate homecoming.
“It was a festive, fun atmosphere, and the students were able to let loose a little and get excited about something happening at school,” Tripalin said. “It is important to remember how much has changed for our students since March, and the numerous things they would be able to do in a normal year.”
Superintendent Munson reported that, on average, the school’s foodservice team is preparing about 800 meals per day. These meals are served in the building, and are also available for parent pick-up and delivery.
“The good news is that USDA has extended free breakfast and lunch for anyone 18 and younger until June 30, 2021,” Munson said. “Taking school meals supports the community, local farmers, helps the school to obtain more funding, provides families with nutritious fruits, veggies, whole grains, lowers grocery bills and reduces meal preparation stress.”
Munson reported that the maintenance team feels that things have been running smoothly so far, and their supplies and sanitizer are holding up well. He said that the team anticipates that there may be things they need to adjust to during the winter, and they will handle those as they arise.
The transportation team has been very busy with all the van routes they are running this school year. Depending on the day, they provide special needs transportation, homeless transportation, alternative placement transportation, and alternative education program transportation. Munson said that the team is “making it work through the cooperation and flexibility of the drivers and other staff who are pitching in to help out.”
In other business
In other business, the board:
• heard that Student Services was working through their backlog of IEPs, and had updated the minutes of services for the full virtual, hybrid, and full in-person teaching models on their website
• approved the first reading of updated school board policies
• approved Ritch Stevenson and Tyler Patzner as middle school girls basketball coaches, and Michael DiPadova and Canisius Johnson for the high school team
• approved John Powell and Thomas Seland as middle school boys basketball coaches, and Chris Wettstein and Jeremy Fradette for the high school team
• approved Aaron Keenlance as the middle school wrestling coach, and Eric and Adam Hady for the high school team
• approved Erika Wilson as the cheerleading coach.• agreed that a final decision about the district’s participation in winter athletics would be made at a special board meeting the week of November 9.