With a return to five-day in-person learning scheduled to begin Monday, the Buckeye Valley Board of Education met Wednesday to discuss COVID-19 as well as the culture at the high school.
During his regular update on the virus, Superintendent Andy Miller said cases in the district remain low with only two active student cases and zero staff cases. Miller said there were 11 students and two staff in quarantine.
“We’re lower than we have been in those areas,” he said. “We’re looking really good there. We’re not seeing spread at school.”
Miller added he’s optimistic numbers will remain low as the semester continues, in part because many spring sports take place outside in open air.
“I think that’ll be a good thing for us,” he said.
Miller said the trend “continues to be positive,” and there’s no reason the board should not go ahead with its plan to move to five-day in-person learning next week. This semester, students on the “Barons are Back” learning plan have been attending school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. No classes have been held on Wednesdays to allow for the schools to be cleaned. The board voted last month to move the district back to all-in instruction beginning March 22 after many district teachers and staff were vaccinated.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Buckeye Valley High School Principal Brian Baker discussed the district’s plan to promote a caring culture at the school, which was part of the district’s recently approved Strategic Plan.
Baker said high school administrators have been working with student council and focus groups to drive discussion and improve things around the school based on student feedback.
“We are doing some things to increase student voice,” Baker said. “High school kids want a voice, and if they don’t have a proper platform to have a voice, they turn to social media and that can get out of hand pretty quickly.”
He added the focus group on diversity, equity and inclusion was a success, and something the school wants to build on.
Baker said that recently, students asked for a way to report bullying anonymously, so school counselors set up a QR code students could scan with their phones in order to file reports.
According to Baker, the school recently received five anonymous reports of bullying and investigated them. He said not all reports met the district’s definition of bullying, but they reach out to parents to make them aware.
Baker said the school also makes use of a block of time during the day called “Baron Time” to allow for students and teachers to have discussions.
“Baron Time is time during the day for teachers to check in with students on grades and social emotional well-being,” Baker said.
The high school and administrators are continuing to work towards other ways to amplify student’s voices, Baker added.
“That’s something we’re really tying to work on,” he said. “Communicating between teachers and students that’s more than just content. … Students are talking with teachers a little bit more, and we’re seeing that communication. Is it perfect yet? No, it’s not. It’s going to take some time to get that improved.”
Baker said the school is also working with students to create more gender-neutral bathrooms at the school after focus groups determined it was something important to students.
“This is another way we are trying to listen, trying to be open minded and make people feel welcome and accepted,” he said.
The board approved the resignations of Fred Linn, an assistant track coach, and Mark Malcom, a substitute bus driver/custodian. The board then approved the employments of Maranda Dew, a cashier at Buckeye Valley High School; Chris Webb, a cook at Buckeye Valley Middle School; and Carmelle Smith, a cashier at Buckeye Valley Middle School.
The next board meeting will take place April 14.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.