School board hears COVID-19 updates

Observing the six-foot rule of social distancing, the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees were back at work at Salamonie Elementary School on Monday, May 11, after holding remote sessions to conduct school business. Pictured are (from left) Board Member Matt Melcher, Board President Mathew Roth, Superintendent Chad Daugherty and Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner.
Observing the six-foot rule of social distancing, the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees were back at work at Salamonie Elementary School on Monday, May 11, after holding remote sessions to conduct school business. Pictured are (from left) Board Member Matt Melcher, Board President Mathew Roth, Superintendent Chad Daugherty and Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

COVID-19 updates heard by the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees at their regular meeting on Monday, May 11, included plans for high school graduation, new teacher devices and closing out the school year for students.

Huntington North High School Principal Rief Gilg outlined a graduation ceremony schedule that will take place on two days, Friday, May 29, at 6 p.m., and Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the HNHS Arena. He explained that after the graduation team consulted with other high school principals, administrators and community “stakeholders” including students, previous graduates and parents, commencement will be split up to allow students to “walk” and receive their diplomas.

“We’re going to split this up into 30-minute increments, so you will get an assigned time if you’re a graduate and we’re going to take groups every 30 minutes,” said Gilg. “In those 30 minutes, there will be 15 graduates in each group to adhere to the Board of Health’s requirement to keep things under 100 people.”

Each student will be allowed to have four guests in attendance at the ceremony. Social distancing guidelines will be implemented.

“They can go right up in front of the stage where it is set up, get cameras, video recorders, phones ready, then the student will walk across.

Gilg said after the students walk onto the stage they will receive a diploma folder; they will then proceed to the other end of the gymnasium to pick up their diplomas, exit the building and walk to the parking lot.

Achievements and awards the student has received will be displayed on a large split screen that will also show them taking their walk across the stage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
The first session on Friday, May 29, will have the valedictorian, salutatorian and class officer speeches, Gilg said. The high school’s Top 25 of the Class of 2020 will also participate in commencement exercises Friday. On Saturday the remainder of the seniors will have specific times to come participate in graduation.

Additionally, the ceremonies will be broadcast on the high school’s radio station, available to watch live on LiveStream and the edited video will be posted later on YouTube.

“I applaud you guys and your group that put that together,” said Board President Mathew Roth. “That seems like a plan for a really tough situation right now, so thank you.”

On another matter, secondary teachers will get their new Windows laptops this week and will convene in a Zoom conference meeting to learn how to use them. Superintendent Chad Daugherty said they will have both Mac and Windows units during the transition and begin using the Windows devices in January next year.

Elementary teachers will keep their Macs, as students will continue to use them for the new school year.

Daugherty also told the board that Crestview, Riverview and HNHS students have scheduled dates and times to return their device, charger, textbooks, library books, band instruments and athletic equipment, while also picking up their PE uniforms, yearbooks, medications, medications and other personal items.

Families were notified of the schedules via SchoolMessenger, the press and social media.

Jay Peters, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, outlined the upcoming summer school program, which will take place June 1 through June 19 in a remote learning format.

Summer school students in kindergarten through third grade will focus on improving their reading. Kindergarten through fifth-grade pupils can also work on math skills with programs they can use on “rainy days,” he explained, since the students will still have their iPads.

Middle school students will turn in their devices at the end of the school year.

High school students will attend summer school June 3 through June 29 via remote classes on the Apex platform for credit recovery. Those students will be issued a new device, Peters added.

Peters also announced two sessions of Kinder Kamp, July 20 to July 24, and July 27 to July 31, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Breakfast and lunch will be served each day, he said.

Kinder Kamp is funded by the Huntington County United Way.

As administrators look to a plan for the upcoming 2020-21 school year, Daugherty said it will be much different, with students attending classes on a split schedule with 15 per class to enable social distancing.  Remote learning will also be available if needed.

Daugherty said plans are still in the works as the administration seeks to educate the county’s students while adhering to health department guidelines, adding it may be late June or July before a plan is in place.

In action items, the board gave unanimous permission to Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner to seek a $10 million general obligation bond in order to pay for maintenance on school buildings and other capital projects.

Bumgardner reported that previous bonds have been paid off and paid for such projects as the Learning Center, school athletic track rehab and auditorium renovations. Projects on the upcoming radar include the Salamonie pool demolition and reworking of traffic patterns at Horace Mann and Flint Springs elementary schools.

He added the bonds would not incur an increase in taxes and would be done within the current tax levy.