EATON — Principals and representatives from each of the Eaton Community School District’s four buildings updated the Eaton Board of Education on the first few weeks of classes during their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 14.
Hollingsworth East Elementary School
East Principal Teresa Woodin said that they have been working all summer trying to get children to school.
“One of the first days that we were here and walked out to the playground, and saw all the children running around, playing, and big tears welled up in my eyes and I thought it made the whole summer worth it,” she said.
The staff has been impressed with how the children have done with their masks, teasing that the children sometimes do better than the staff.
For lunch, the number of students in the cafeteria has been reduced by 50 percent, and Woodin said the students have done well with the adjustment.
As of Sept. 14, the K-2 school had 88 remote learners, and Woodin said the school had received three requests for children to come back.
“We’ve had a number of children that are requesting to return to school,” she said. “So we take that as a positive as we’d love to have them be back in the building with us.”
William Bruce Elementaty School
Bruce Principal Kip Powell was unable to attend Monday’s meeting. Malissa Miller, a guidance counselor, provided the 3-5 school’s update.
There are 27 remote third graders, 35 remote fourth graders and 24 remote fifth graders, which makes up 86 of Bruce’s 429 total students.
“We have not really had issues with the masks coming into the building as a car rider or bus rider,” Miller said. “The kids are doing it. We haven’t had any issues with that whatsoever.”
She said teachers have been great about separating desks and furnishings in classrooms, and sanitizing and spraying everything down to make sure it is disinfected.
For lunch, students are in the cafeteria, the art room and the gym.
“Staff are working quickly and efficiently to clean those tables and seats off for the next group to arrive,” she said.
She added that remote students, for the most part, are keeping up with their assignments, though it hasn’t been without issue.
“The communication, I think [teachers] are probably killing themselves trying to communicate with parents that their children aren’t probably turning this stuff in like they’re supposed to,” Miller said. “I think as a parent, it’s probably hard to try to figure out what they’ve done and what they haven’t done.”
Many parents have called in, according to Miller, to say that remote learning was not like this before, and that they’re now realizing that there’s more commitment to it.
Eaton Middle School
Eaton Middle School Principal Brian Camp used his time to discuss his three A’s: attendance, academics and attitude.
Regarding attendance, the middle school is at 96 percent for the year as a building, which Camp said is “very respectful and healthy for us to get off to a good start this school year.”
For academics, instruction for both in-person and remote classes has been in full swing since Aug. 31.
“Staff are problem solving through the various challenges with remote instruction,” Camp said.
As for attitude, Camp said that the first couple weeks have spoken volumes about the students at the middle school.
“The respect to understand empathy for one another and why we’re wearing masks…it just speaks volumes about our community and how people understand,” he said. “We may not agree with it, but we also know it’s about one another and being safe.”
He said that wearing masks in different settings can be challenging, but they are understanding.
“We will continue to be resilient and be able to continue with the response,” he said. “We’re going to continue to teach, even remote settings. There was one classroom [where] they were on their phone with the kids. Always trying to find the alternative solution and overcome the challenge in that moment.”
Eaton High School
“So far this year, it was nice to get students back in,” Eaton High School Principal Scott Couch said. “Gave us an opportunity to see everything that we planned all summer, to see that in action.”
He said that students and staff have been great and very flexible with the changes, including masks.
Lunch has been changed at the high school with students that pack lunch eating in the auxiliary gym, and for students that purchase lunch, they sit three to a table in the cafeteria.
The staff has also started to utilize the west entrance to the building for arrival and dismissal.
“We use the west end and Officer [Anthony] Schmidt, he’s been out there every day,” Couch said. “It’s got to the point now where it goes extremely smoothly. We pull [them] all the way up, kids come out. It’s a process that I think has gone extremely well to this point.”
They are facing challenges with technology including students getting kicked out of Google Meets or students not having good enough Internet access.
“We will continue to look at that issue and provide support where we can provide that support,” Couch said.
The staff received feedback from students during class meetings last week to get their input on changes, and will look to make it a better experience for students are reviewing said feedback.
Couch added that athletics are up and running.
“They definitely look differently with ticket restrictions for homes games and streaming home games and away games,” he said. “It is nice having the tennis courts on-site.”
Superintendent Jeff Parker added that everything he has observed from students and staff has been excellent.
“When I hear from the principals and teachers, [students] really have done a good job,” he said. “There was a lot of concern going in, especially younger kids, and the ability for their masks, and then they’ve been concerned about maybe some of the opinions about masks, but they really have done a nice job.”
In other business:
- The board approved various advances worth a total of $108,523.16 from the General Fund for FY21.
- Retirements were approved for budgetary clerk Barbara Hipsher and teacher Linda Laufer.
- The board approved the creation, posting and job description for an Administrative Registered Nurse for the 2020-21 school year.
- The board accepted donations from Cornerstone Grace Church for school supplies for East Elementary students and from Dr. Marvin Horton for special education supplies for the special education department.
The next regular board meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. in the East Elementary School cafeteria.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles