Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
Celina delays start of school one week
District to enact safety protocols, hold staff training
By William Kincaid
CELINA - The start of the school year has been pushed back a week to give principals, teachers and staff extra time to enact safety protocols and train to limit the spread of COVID-19 and assign students to classrooms.
Celina City Schools Board of Education members at Tuesday morning's special meeting unanimously voted to change the start date from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2 and designated Aug. 26-31 and Sept. 1 as teacher workdays. The school year will still end on May 27 for students and May 28 for teachers as originally scheduled, superintendent Ken Schmiesing said.
School administrators made the case for moving the first day of classes for an array of reasons, with some pushing for a Sept. 8 date and others a Sept. 2 date. Board members ultimately chose Sept. 2 as the new date.
"We have to go back. The kids need us, and we need them. But, if we could just have a few more days," high school assistant principal Renee Kramer said, adding that everyone, including principals, teachers and aides need the extra time to carry out COVID-19-related measures.
Schmiesing said officials hold safety in the highest regard and that adjusting protocols and procedures takes time.
The number of students requesting remote learning jumped to more than 200 after directives were issued from the state last week that most students will be required to wear face coverings, he said. However, Schmiesing said Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to release an official face-covering policy soon.
"When we have that many students we have to figure out how to assign staff members to those students and hence go back and change the rest of the schedules for teachers," he said.
Still, 93% of district families plan to send their kids to school buildings on the first day of classes, Schmiesing pointed out.
"So I think the overwhelming majority is there saying, 'I want my kids to go to school,' " he said. "So I think definitely that should be our plan as well to open up for that majority."
The district has ordered face masks and shields, sanitizers, disinfectants and safety guards.
"But we do have some training that needs to happen on how we're going to make that all work," he said, later adding that officials also must worry about being the only school district in the county without air-conditioned buildings, which presents difficulties with safety measures.
Officials are still awaiting the arrival of 55-gallon drums of sanitizers, no-touch thermometers and other personal protective equipment.
High School Principal Phil Metz said extra time would help officials prepare for a COVID-19 school year.
"Every time something changes, we have to make accommodations to the building," Metz said. "We had a plan going forward and then we were told we have to take temperatures. We don't have staff. We don't have a procedure in place for doing that so we have to figure out how that's going to happen."
Metz was referencing the board's July directive that all students are to have their temperatures taken by staff at the beginning of the school day.
Middle school principal Andy Mikesell voiced similar concerns.
"We need that (PPE) before we can train, to maintain that expectation that we want for this school year as far as keeping everybody safe," he said.
Schmiesing also is pushing staff to incorporate Google Classroom as part of their teaching plans. It's a tool that helps educators manage and assess progress while enhancing connections with students from school, home and on the go, according to Google.
Some teachers have been using Google Classroom for years while others are just starting, board members learned. Therefore, it's going to take professional development to get educators prepared.