GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Preparing for a new normal in and out of the classroom.
With a new target start date of Aug. 31 now set, the Gallipolis City Schools District is adapting to ever-changing guidelines and looking to move forward in the best way possible.
As reported earlier this week, Superintendent Craig Wright announced a series of changes via video on social media Monday, including mask requirements for students in preschool-through-12th grade, and the push back of the start of school from Aug. 25 to Aug. 31.
“I’m confident we’ll have students in school on the 31st,” Wright said. “The only reason we set the delay was to allow more time for professional development. Typically we have three days profession development with a normal school year, and there’s really nothing normal about this particular school year. We wanted to make sure we get it right, we want it to be the best possible experience for our students, staff and families that we serve.
“We felt like that extra time was going to be needed to ensure the safety protocols that are in place, and make sure the classrooms are set up. We also want to make sure we get the online and remote learning thing down, and we have plans to do some family engagement as far as educating parents on how to use that platform.”
One day after Wright’s announcement that all-students be required to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible, Governor Mike DeWine announced a state mandate for masks in grades K-12.
“Originally we followed CDC guidelines for mask requirements in grades three-through-twelve,” Wright said. “After meeting with the board, my administrative staff, our union representatives, and our teachers, we felt it would be best practice for all students to wear face coverings. We went ahead and made the change to that particular policy, and the Governor’s order (this week) supports the policy that we put in place, which is actually a good thing.”
Mask requirements are in place on all public transportation, in the hallway in between classes, and any time social distancing can’t be ensured.
“This has been planned out with the local health department,” Wright said. “I will say that they have been wonderful, I know that he’s busy, my heart goes out to him, but he does a wonderful job. We’re coordinating our efforts with them and also with Holzer Health System, they’ve been very valuable.
“We’re building videos that we’ll be sharing on Facebook, and also at schools, educating our students on safe practices and protocols. They’re working with our school nurses before the start of school, educating them on the COVID procedures. Also, they’re going to be coming to our professional development day on the 20th. They’re going to be meeting with all of our staff, and they’re going to be presenting as well. We’re really trying to get as many people involved in this process as we can, we know that education is important, not only with our staff, but with our community.”
There will also be a live question and answer stream with Holzer on Tuesday, with pediatricians and Tyler Schweickart from the health department.
“Communication is always difficult at this time,” Wright said. “I am putting the videos out on Facebook, and we have paper mailings that are going out from our buildings as well. It’s important to understand that our secretaries don’t return to the building until Aug. 6, so there is a little bit of delay on what goes out to our families.”
Wright also noted that if the time arrives when the state mandates remote learning, the Gallipolis City School District is prepared.
“All of our students are already online and they’re all on the same pace so that we can serve all of those students equally,” Wright said. “We’re not trying to impose an extra workload on our staff, they still are serving the same number of kids that they normally would.”
The current schedule has teachers returning to start professional development on Aug. 20.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.