WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley Community Local School District board members and administrators discussed ongoing concerns related to COVID-19 safety measures and remote learning options during their regular monthly meeting Monday, Oct. 26.
One board member asked whether a survey had been done to determine parents of remote learners’ level of satisfaction with Edmentum, the online platform currently being utilized by Twin Valley, National Trail and Preble Shawnee Local School Districts to administer remote learning.
The topic of doing a survey was raised after one parent expressed serious concerns about Edmentum during the board’s Sept. 28 meeting.
Approximately 55 students had opted for the remote learning option, known as Panther Academy, as of last month’s meeting, according to Superintendent Scott Cottingim. More than 100 signed up at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. As of last Monday, Cottingim said, only 39 remained.
“The majority of those who came back have come back to Twin Valley,” Cottingim said, though he acknowledged that the parents of six students had elected to pursue homeschooling instead.
Cottingim promised that the satisfaction survey would be completed next month, though board Vice President Christine Bitner wondered what purpose such a measure would serve, now that so many students have opted out of online learning.
Cottingim stressed that remote learning would likely continue to be a part of the educational landscape next fall, however.
“This will allow us to meet the folks where they’re at and make sure we serve their needs better,” Cottingim said, expressing concern that some students and parents didn’t know what to expect from the remote learning platform. “Next fall these folks are going to know what they’re getting into.”
COVID-19 safety measures
Board president Tim Beneke thanked TVS staff for helping to ensure student and staff member safety, but also underlined the importance of continued caution.
“We can’t let up with the masks and the social distancing,” Beneke said, expressing fears that some might be starting to “let their guard down.”
Cottingim reported that two staff members had recently tested positive for the coronavirus, with seven students and an additional five staff members being quarantined as a result. One staff member returned to school on Monday, according to Cottingim, while the rest were slated to return later in the week.
Board member Jason DeLong raised concerns about a measure that would require the school district to comply with health department orders, including those relating to mask and social distancing mandates.
“This has nothing to do with what’s going on today, or with what all of you are doing, which I applaud,” DeLong said, pointing out that the district’s current COVID-19 safety procedures have not been enshrined in board policy.
DeLong expressed concern that the measure would grant broad latitude to future boards beyond the scope of the current health crisis.
“I don’t know who’s going to be sitting here in 25 years,” DeLong said.
Bitner proposed an amendment that would specify that the policy last for the duration of the current school year. The measure was then approved by unanimous vote.
Also during last Monday’s meeting:
The board authorized Cottingim to begin planning to hold the Class of 2021 graduation ceremony on school grounds, as was done for last year’s ceremony.
“With your blessing we’ll go ahead and get started with that,” Cottingim said.
7-12 Principal Derek Flatter announced a program to offer academic support to students after school. Students with transportation issues would then ride elementary school buses home afterward. The program will commence on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the coming weeks, according to Flatter.
Flatter also spoke about Hope Squad, a program where students select a peer that they trust to come in times of need.
“Mental health has really been even more critical than ever,” Flatter said.
The next meeting of the Twin Valley Community School District Board of Education will take place Monday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in the TVS Middle School media center.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish