School board praises many for remote learning

During the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees meeting on Monday, April 28, teachers and administrators were praised for their work with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“We have a lot of administrators that were going to houses giving packets, picking up information,” said Superintendent Chad Daugherty.

“Teachers that are reaching out on weekends to try to help with students. Everybody is doing the best they can. We really appreciate our families for their partnerships with us. We know this is not the best way for our children to learn, but they’ve been great to partner with teachers and administrators to try to figure out that ‘sweet spot’ of what’s best for students.”

Daugherty also gave thanks to the corporation’s payroll staff for coming in to make sure everyone is paid on time.

As part of the update on the efforts to educate the corporation’s students during the school shutdown ordered by Gov. Eric Holcomb, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jay Peters said the board’s planning and preparation for eLearning that began some two years ago paved the way for a smooth and quick transition to the current remote learning program, which was rolled out on March 16.

Peters reported that of the 521 continuous learning plans submitted to the state, HCCSC’s plan was one of 270 plans that were approved on its first submission. He noted that the corporation’s remote learning plan is not the same as eLearning that had been previously held on individual days.

Peters also acknowledged the work of the corporation’s professional development team, which consists of Lynn Brown (high school), Deb Daugherty (middle school), Cathy Hull (elementary) and Elizabeth Kitchen (technology integration specialist/elementary).

The team has held numerous Zoom sessions with teachers, added about a dozen new applications and websites to support student remote learning and fielded around 100 calls — between 25 and 50 phone calls and as many as 75 text messages daily to ensure teachers have the resources they need.

“This team has been on the front lines of supporting our teachers and offering a wealth of knowledge and information during this remote learning time,” he said. “Their skill and expertise truly has been instrumental in giving our teachers the tools and their toolboxes that they need to creatively connect with our students.”

Peters also said counselors are following up with students who have been absent from their remote learning classes or who are not completing their work.

Board member Tim Allen said he was glad to know that remote learning was not the same as eLearning and appreciated the efforts of teachers in getting students ready for the next school year.

“With remote learning, it’s obviously a little more of a challenge,” he said. “I think our teachers have done an amazing job to reach out to those kids and their families.”

On another matter, the board unanimously approved a resolution that will allow HCCSC to donate supplies and materials previously purchased by the corporation to the Huntington County Health Department for use by first responders.

Daugherty said some equipment has already been donated, including masks, gloves, thermometers and thermometer sleeves.
Allen, who is the Huntington County Combined Dispatch director and a member of the Huntington County Task Coronavirus Force, thanked administrators, saying the donations were desperately needed.

“We really didn’t have many places to turn,” he added. “Thank goodness that the schools graciously donated all they had. It’s been used by a lot of organizations and agencies and it’s really, really important.”

In other business:

• A memorandum of understanding was unanimously approved with Huntington University to continue the ABLE program, which offers classes and employment opportunities to HCCSC students with cognitive disabilities who are ages 18 to 22 and who have not earned a high school diploma.

Daugherty said a job coach is also provided at HU to assist students in the program. Eight students will be part of the program next year, he added.

• In an update on the new Roanoke Elementary School construction, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner said he does not believe the health emergency has altered the timeline for the completion of the building.

Daugherty said the administrative team will meet with teachers, school and maintenance staff to determine a plan to move into the new building. He added the county health department is also assisting in the process.

Board member Brian Warpup said he expects to be updated on a celebration to say goodbye to the old school building and dedicating the new one at the next board meeting.

• Daugherty also reported to the board that the corporation has given away nearly 9,000 meals to area children and their families with the last distribution on April 23. He thanked the Food Service staff, Food Service Director Ken Akins and HCCSC bus drivers for their efforts to serve the meals on a weekly basis.

Before concluding, the board agreed to continue both regularly scheduled meetings in May. Those meetings are set for May 8 and May 22, at 7 p.m