SCOTTVILLE — Mason County Central is making adjustments in light of Sunday’s MDHHS mandate to halt in-person instruction for high-school students due to statewide COVID-19 increases.
Superintendent Jeff Mount said he feels confident that the district is well-prepared for the transition, which must be in effect no later than Wednesday.
During Monday’s board of education meeting, he updated the board on the status of the district in the wake of the new order.
Face-to-face instruction for pre-K through eighth-grade students will continue for the time being for students who were not already committed to remote-learning for the trimester.
The high school will pivot to exclusively using MCC’s Spartan Connected remote-learning format starting Wednesday. Teachers and support staff members have been working on implementing that transition now.
“We’ll be one-to-one, so all the kids have access to a computer, access to the internet… We’re putting those plans together as we speak, so come Wednesday we’ll be able to hit the ground running,” Mount said.
Jeff Tuka, high-school principal, also commended the district’s preparation, but said there have been some communication gaps that will need to be addressed, as well as logistical challenges regarding the transition occurring during a trimester change.
“We’ve been preparing for this. From a district level, I think we’ve always had a good plan. Where it becomes stressful is that the timing isn’t good. We’re going to be going remote just as we’re changing classes and teachers,” Tuka said. “We worked really hard on this (Monday) during professional development… and we do have the students in attendance (Tuesday) to get this all worked out.”
Principals from the middle school, the Upper Elementary and Scottville Elementary stated that students are gaining confidence with remote learning in the event that face-to-face instruction in the lower grade levels is also deemed unsafe.
Mount said the district supports the mandate, but he told the Daily News that the impact of COVID-19 on the high school has been virtually non-existent, noting that the cases thus far have been in other grade levels.
“It’s understandable why the position was taken by the health department across the state,” he said. “We here at MCC had actually no cases at the high school… and we’ve really been quite healthy at the high school.”
He also said the announcement of the stricter restrictions came at a fortuitous time for MCC, since teachers had already committed to a professional development day on Monday. It provided a chance to give the transition additional attention.
“We are prepared,” Mount said. “We are ready for whatever this darn thing brings us.”
New positive case
Also on Sunday, MCC received word that one of its transportation department employees had tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in 10 students being quarantined, according to Mount.
The positive case was announced through MCC’s COVID-19 dashboard.
In a statement Monday on the school’s website, Mount wrote that the MCC is working closely with District Health Department No. 10 to identify close contacts. He said anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted by the health department, and asked that students and parents answer the phone if they receive a call from (231) 757-3711.
Mount said the school district has enough bus drivers to fill the gap, though the need for additional bus drivers remains.
Sunday’s announcement marked MCC’s fifth school-associated COVID-19 case since the start of the year, but Mount said none of those cases have spread.
“To date, we have had five total cases at Mason County Central dating back to Sept. 14… But we’re not seeing transmission within the school system. These are coming from the outside,” Mount said.
Of the most recent positive case, he said, “We’re OK. It was a small impact, but still an impact.”
The board received word that trustee Jeff Barnett is resigning from his seat, leaving the district with 30 days to appoint a replacement.
Also on Monday, the board entered closed session to consider the reinstatement of an expelled student, and to discuss a collective bargaining agreement with the Mason County Central Education Association.