For one of the first times since the pandemic began, there were no positive cases for COVID-19 reported in the Lodi School District last week.
During a discussion of the district’s reopening plan at Monday’s school board meeting, District Administrator Vince Breunig presented the news.
He also added there were four the week before, to go along with four the week previous to that one. “There’s been very little spread in school because of mask wearing, social distancing and all the other mitigation strategies in place,” said Breunig.
Each of the district’s principals talked about how the reopening process has gone, since the district returned to full days, four days a week of in-person learning.
Middle School Principal Joe Prosek said that students have done a good job with mask wearing and that teachers are feeling comfortable. However, the kids are getting antsy about returning to normal.
“The longer this goes on, I think middle school kids are like the general public, and social distancing is certainly the No. 1 issue,” said Prosek.
In the morning, during breakfast and lunch, and at dismissal times, Prosek said he has to constantly remind kids to maintain social distancing.
Each of the principals informed the board about the percentage of students under their purview who are still doing virtual learning.
In the middle school, it’s about 12% for sixth graders, 19% of seventh graders and 9% of eighth graders, with 92 sixth graders, 93 seventh graders and 107 eighth graders going to school in-person.
Primary School Principal Amy Fassbender noted that 12% of her students are still learning completely online. Fassbender also said that teachers have returned to normal routines of recess and lunch, are beginning the assessment process and are continuing to work through safety measures. Feedback on the mitigation practices has been positive, she said.
Elementary and OSC Principal Michael Pisani said that kids are excited to be back, as assessments have been going on for a little while. For the first time, according to Pisani, assessment of online learners has been taking place, as they’ve been brought in on Wednesdays for the work. Pisani said students have been sticking to mitigation strategies, such as mask wearing and social distancing. Three lunchrooms have been used in order to keep students 6 feet apart. Pisani explained that it’s been busier than normal, although it’s always intense at the end of the year.
“It’s been a unique experience,” said Pisani, “but staff has pulled together to make it fabulous.” In all, 8.6% of elementary students are still working entirely online. Breaking it down, that includes 19% of third graders, 3% of fourth graders and 7% of fifth graders. In the OSC, 6% of students are still virtual.
At the high school level, 23% of ninth graders are in virtual learning, compared to 37% of sophomores, 35% of juniors and 39% of seniors. High School Principal Joe Jelinek said those numbers have been fluctuating a little, as some parents and students expressed a desire to return to in-person learning.
Jelinek added that efforts are being made to ensure there’s enough classroom capacity to add more students. He also said he’s amazed at how teachers have been able to work with both in-person and virtual learners at the same time.
In talking about mitigation efforts, Jelinek agreed with Prosek that social distancing has been a concern. With regard to athletics, Jelinek talked about giving seniors the opportunity to go to one last football game, and setting up 50 extra bleachers to do so. He said it was a beautiful day and the football team played well.
“I think they really missed being part of a student section,” said Jelinek.
A parent addressed the board on Monday and asked that masking be made optional for physical education classes and recess. She also proposed making masking optional for summer school, especially for outside classes.
Breunig said that while he understands the discomfort of performing physical activities with a mask on, he wouldn’t recommend making any changes the last month of the school year and isn’t sure about summer school. Having kids continue wearing masks is still recommended, he said.