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COVID-19 for the Ada Community

A guide to help the public research COVID-19 using reliable sources.

Community Q&A with Ada Schools

AdaSAFE reached out to the Ada Schools the first week of August with a list of questions submitted by community members. Below are the answers that we received.

Mrs. Skilliter, superintendent, emphasized in her reply: "We have answered below to the best of our knowledge at this time. Things are always evolving and change is inevitable, but we have done our best to answer as things sit today." Mrs. Skilliter stressed the importance of parents emailing or calling their building principals, as it is best to have questions answered directly to the parent/guardian as applies specifically to their child or children, as each child's circumstances are a bit different. Mr. Thaxton’s email is thaxtonb@adabulldogs.org, Mr. Lee’s is leed@adabulldogs.org, and parents can also call the Ada School offices (419-634-6421) to talk directly with the principals.

Q&A: Safety in the School

Q1: What happens when a child is Covid+? Will the classmates be notified?

A1: During a public health crisis, the school is in partnership with the county health department. Communication regarding student/staff health, comes with the restrictions related to HIPAA (medical privacy) constraints. Thus, once there is a positive case, communication specific to both parents and building staff is handled by the county health department. What can be shared and with whom is part of the health department’s protocols and processes. Any generic communication (i.e., press release) will be more broad, and still will be written in collaboration with the HCHD (Hardin County Health Department), to be sure HIPAA privacy rights are protected.

Q2: Will there be any change to busing? Will there still be up to three students sharing a seat?

A2: The district will be surveying parents of students who ride a bus. Our recommendation is that parents transport their children whenever possible. We recognize that there are inherent risks in sending students to school during a pandemic, and even more so when sending students to school on a bus. After we know how many students must ride a bus, we will be revamping the routes to even out the number of students, which will be reduced due to more parents transporting students as well as the students whose parents have chosen the home instruction option. We will limit the number of students in the same seat as much as possible. We will try to sit siblings from the same household together. Both students and drivers will wear a face covering all times on a school bus. Buses will also be decontaminated after each run.

Q3: Has the HVAC system been looked at? Is it capable of filtering the air as needed?

A3: Yes. Our service provider provided us with a solution for treating the system to reduce viruses, bacteria, etc.

Q4: How many students will be in a classroom?

A4: Our deadline for signing up for the home instruction option in August 10. After that, we will have an idea of class size. It varies from class to class, but will be reduced at every grade due to students taking an online or home instruction option. We will adjust class lists to even out the number of students in each classroom.

Q5: How will students be socially distanced?

A5: Teachers will remove extraneous furniture and materials to make as much space as possible to spread desks out in classrooms. Barriers are being added to some classrooms where tables are necessary (i.e., art, labs, etc.). More tables were purchased for lunch and another period of lunch has been added to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria. The new tables are going to be placed out into Bulldog Boulevard to spread students out even more. Where social distancing may not be able to reach 6 feet, per CDC recommendation (imagine a line of 20 students going to lunch, each student 6 feet from the next), or at the very least 3 feet, per the American Association of Pediatrics recommendation, students will be directed to don their masks.

Q6a: Lunchroom procedures: Do cafeteria staff have any special precautions or new safety procedures to help make sure the cafeteria is safe?

A6a: Cafeteria safe serve procedures are already some of the most hygiene protective procedures within a school. In addition to those procedures that protect the safety of the food served, masks are being worn, no self service of items will be allowed, and much more single serving packaging will be used. There is much guidance for cafeteria staff that Ms. Hersey will share with her staff when they return.

Q6b: Lunchroom procedures: How often the tables will be cleaned, will wet wipes/cleaning spray be available throughout lunch, etc.?

A6b: The district is hiring an additional custodian to help make all the extra cleaning rotations, especially between groups in the cafeteria. Mr. Garmon is getting approved cleaning solution that is allowed at schools and rated to kill coronavirus. The tables will be decontaminated between each lunch period.

Q7a: Will students be able to leave the school for lunch, specifically: Will students be allowed to leave campus for lunch?

A7a: Students will be required to remain on campus for lunch.

Q7b: Will students be able to leave the school for lunch, specifically: Will students be allowed to sit in their cars to eat lunch?

A7b: Students will not be allowed to sit in their cars to eat lunch.

Q8: What are the criteria being used to determine when or if we close the school? Is it based on the number of positive cases identified within the school or some other data?

A8: Just as there is no perfect rubric that can be used to make a decision to go or not go to school during bad weather or fog, the decision to close school will be a complex decision. It won’t necessarily be based on certain criteria alone, but rather upon the preponderance of all the evidence or information. The Superintendent has always retained the authority to close schools. This decision will be made with conversations with all administrators, the building and transportation coordinator, and the Hardin County Health Department (HCHD) where appropriate. Certainly the district will follow all mandates and directives coming from local, county, state, and federal regulating agencies.

Q&A: Masks

Q1: Will masks be required while the governor’s mandate is in effect?

A1: The district plan spells out a face covering policy for each level of the county warning system, in the instance of a state-wide mandate. The plan also states that the district will follow any mandates, directives, and orders from local, county, state, and federal regulatory agencies. Currently, we have an order from the Governor/ODH for all students, and we will follow that order, allowing for the exemptions listed in the order.

Q2: Will individual teachers be able to require masks in their particular rooms?

A2: The plan speaks to this as well. At the state mandate or directive level, and the red level, it is a moot point. At orange and yellow, the plan allows a teacher to require students to mask up, particularly for those teachers at greater risk due to age demographic or underlying health condition. In addition, there are a few cases where students must share materials, such as in a science or STEM lab, where teachers may require masks. If the students are not able to social distance (like during a lab) or when getting one on one assistance from the teacher the teacher can require masks. 

Q3: Would the school board reconsider their decision and require masks if the county is red or purple?

A3: Our plan requires it at red, purple, state wide masking mandate or school masking mandate.

Q4: How will the school handle parental requests for mask exemptions for students? Will the school provide face shields for students who may not be able to wear fabric or cloth masks?

A4: Because we are required to have documentation on file to justify a student or staff member being exempt, there is a form for parents to get filled out by a medical professional and have the medical professional fax to the school.

Q&A: Sports and Activities

Note from Mrs. Skilliter: We are awaiting OHSAA and the Governor’s final word on sports, both “contact” and “low contact” sports. We will share an update when this guidance comes and our county ADs and Superintendents come to an agreement on a plan for the county.

Q1: Will spectators be allowed for fall sports? Does it depend on the sport? If spectators are allowed, what are the procedures for the spectators?

A1: Question unable to be answered at this time; please see note from Mrs. Skilliter above.

Q2: If a student is involved in fall sports or other activities (teams/clubs/groups), may a parent choose to provide transportation for his/her child rather than having him/her ride on the bus? If so, what is the procedure?

A2: Question unable to be answered at this time; please see note from Mrs. Skilliter above.

Q&A: Online Learning and Homeschooling

Q1: Option 2 states, “All online learning courses will be taught and/or coordinated by an Ada teacher. What exactly does this mean? Will an Ada teacher be teaching any online classes? If so, which ones? If not, what online service will be used?

A1: The home instruction option is from vendors. We chose a different program for elementary than for high school. The overseeing of these students, facilitation, answering of questions, grading (where needed), etc., will be by an Ada employee. We are waiting to see how many students we have before we decide how many teachers we need and whether any of our current staff could be assigned to do this for the year or we need to hire a teacher or teachers to oversee these students. We had the option to have the vendor assign a teacher, but felt local people would have a more vested interest in our students. Kindergarten through 5th grade will have a licensed Ada teacher that will serve as their teacher. They will use our selected online curriculum and will also have Zoom sessions to deliver instruction and support.

Q2: What is the point at which Ada will go virtual? Is there a certain number of cases of students? Teachers? Teachers/Staff/Administration?

A2: We didn’t set a specific number. We will wait until August 10 to see how many are signed up and make decisions from there. Should we have to go remote, students whose parents select the in school option will be getting instruction from the teacher(s) assigned to them in school. This is different from the home instruction option students.

Q3: If a student attends Ada at the start of the year and the family is not comfortable with the experience, may the child switch to online learning? Is there a deadline for this change?

A3: If a student is attending in person and something changes, they may switch to the home instruction option. A student will have to complete all work for each class to get credit, so as we get farther into the year, parents and students will have to consider carefully. If a student enrolls in November, they will have a lot of work to do from the time they were not doing home instruction to complete all the online work in order to get credit. Early in the school year, this shouldn’t be a problem. Once the student switches to the home instruction, he/she must complete it and remain in that option, at least to the end of the semester.

Q4: If a student chooses online learning, how will the family be notified about needed school supplies? Will this list be different from the lists that are distributed for classroom instruction?

A4: The lists may be different. The vendor and/or teacher facilitator will communicate those needs to the parent/student. K-5 is based on project-based learning. Students may use household items to complete many of those projects. Additionally, we may offer print materials such as reading books to younger students.

Q5: If a student chooses the online option and the school goes virtual, does the child remain on the original option?

A5: If the student chooses home instruction, and we go remote after school starts, the home instruction students will stay as home instruction students and nothing will change for them. Students who took the school option will get remote lessons, etc., from the teacher assigned to the students for each subject.

Q6: May a student attend some classes online and attend specific classes at Ada (for example, upper level classes that require labs, etc.?)

A6: No. Students must choose one or the other.

Q7: How do I know what classes are offered online? Where can I find the list?

A7: The principals can tell you what classes are required and where options or choices exist. The guidance department will register for the aligned courses.

Q8: Will online students be self-paced?

A8: Online students will need to make adequate progress and will have to meet attendance requirements of the vendor. Home-instructional courses will be somewhat self-paced but will also be controlled by the Ada teacher administering the course. K-5 will have a weekly schedule that will help students identify what their expectations are for the week. They may work at their own pace, however, they need to stay up-to-date on their assignments. Students will need to complete all work and assignments by the end of the semester.

Q9: Are the online courses graded? If so, how does that tie in with the Ada grading system?

A9: Yes. The courses are graded and will impact the student's cumulative grade point average. The same grading scale will be applied as with all courses at Ada.

Q10: What happens to a student who chooses online learning the first semester and returns to Ada for the second semester? Will they be placed in the equivalent class? Are Ada classes close enough in content to the online ones so a student can quickly assimilate with his/her classmates?

A10: Students will be placed in the equivalent course. The administrators and guidance counselors will place students in courses at the start of the year with the plan to choose classes that best align with Ada courses. When necessary, Ada teachers will purposefully work with individual students who need support assimilating back into in-person courses.

Q11: Does choosing the online option change the CC+ classes for which a student has already signed up?

A11: Students will not receive college credits for home-instruction courses.

Q12: May a student choose additional CC+ classes rather than the online option?

A12: In some cases, students may be able to choose CC+ courses. However, restrictions on admission and registration will significantly limit those options.

Q13: Does the taking of any of these courses invalidate the courses needed to be in NHS, be valedictorian/salutatorian, or receive an Honors Diploma? What about sitting for AP tests?

A13: These situations should be individually discussed with an administrator. Our goal is to work with families in this regard; however, students will have to meet the course requirements for these honors and meeting these criterias should be addressed prior to the student taking the courses.

Q&A: Additional Questions

Q1: Will there be any kind of kindergarten assessment/screening this year? Will this differ for remote versus in-person students?

A1: We will not be conducting a full screening as in the past. However, we are required to screen for hearing, vision, speech and communications, and health or medical problems and for any developmental disorders in addition to completing the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. We will be conducting these assessments on campus at the beginning of the school year. Arrangements will be made to assess the home instruction students, and the elementary office will be in touch with those students/parents.