WHEATFIELD — At Monday night’s school board meeting, the board and administrators heard concern from parents regarding the issue of childcare at the schools if they were to close for an extended period of time due to COVID. On Friday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians of elementary aged children asking for their assistance in filling out a survey regarding the possibility of offering childcare at the schools.
Ryan Bristol said he had heard about the childcare issue. “I was just questioning, if that does indeed happen, if our whole idea is to protect the children by isolating them, then how would that be safe to bring them into full time childcare using the facilities and the buses?” He asked what the plan is on this.
Superintendent Don Street explained the Indiana Dept. of Education and Gov. Holcomb have requested all school districts consider providing childcare if the schools have to close for an extended period of time. The KV School Corp decided to gather data to see if there would be a need in the district. “We are only gathering information to help prepare if we must close for an extended period of time,” the letter states.
Bristol said if they could come up with a plan to safely do that they should be able to come up with a plan to safely keep schools open. Street responded, “Absolutely. Most definitely.” He said the DOE and governor’s office are also asking if the school corporations had to close, they should do all they can to keep the elementary schools open. “There’s a lot of different factors to consider,” he said.
Kristen Bristol said even if the governor’s office is considering this, she didn’t think the corporation should consider it. “We are trying to save lives,” she said. She didn’t think citizens of Indiana should be considering it. When the mandated shut down occurred, she said, “We all would have thought it was nuts to put our kids on a school bus and sent them to school.
“I would not like to see kids gathering in the school buildings when we’re all trying to protect our community,” she said.
Asst. Superintendent Alissa Schnick said,”We have to deal with a lot of ‘ifs.’” She said they also sent out a survey for staff members to see if anyone would want to work in childcare in that scenario as well. Cafeteria staff would also need to consider options also as well as bus drivers if the school corporation provided transportation for the children.
She said they’ve received between 40 to 50 responses for each school, and most of those respondents are people who are looking at their options, asking about before and after school care, what the hours would be, etc. There are those who have responded, as the Bristols have, and those who said they would not use the childcare for safety reasons. There are 20 to 30 children that would need the childcare so far.
They are still gathering information. She said, “We want to know what the community is saying. Is it a need; is it not a need? Is it a smaller scale need? Just so that if we get to that point, we’ve gathered information from folks, and we can make an educated response to what our students need and what our staff needs.”
The surveys will be open through Friday and results will be used for planning purposes. Schnick later said, “We will consult with the Jasper County Health Department before moving forward with any type of optional childcare for our students during an extended closure.”
Also during the meeting, the board went into a public hearing for the 2021 budgets, which include the capital projects plan an the bus replacement plan. School Board President Jill Duttlinger opened the floor to the public for comment or objections, but there were none. The board then approved the budget, which was advertised on the state’s Gateway website and the school corporation’s website.
The school board approved club sponsors, department heads, drama, music and two miscellaneous positions for high school extracurricular activities. Breanna (Toppen) Pruim and Dylan Sells were approved as high school girls’ varsity assitant coaches, splitting the salary 50/50.
The high school Students of the Month were read, but the students were not asked to attend due to social distancing at the meeting. The DeMotte/KV Rotary sponsors the student of the month. The students for September are:
Business: Neva Reyes
CTE Human Services: Addison Boone
Fine Arts: Jocelyn Dutton
Foreign Language: Eliana Wakefield
Language Arts: Abigail Kaluf
Mathematics: Chloe Geeve
PE/Health: Danika Vega
Science: Kent Hamstra
Social Studies: Hanna Nazimek
Technology: Braden Misch