BY TODD CRAMER | MAUMEE CITY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT — Maumee City Schools is Optimistic. Prepared. Grateful.
These are just three of the emotions that all of us in the Maumee City Schools are feeling today as we move closer and closer to being able to have our students back in our classrooms with us every day. Given we are in the grip of a global pandemic, we continue to focus on a future full of meaningful educational experiences for our students.
We Are Optimistic
Each day, we closely track COVID-19 data for Lucas County and specifically the zip codes of 43537 and 43614 – where our students reside. We continue to be very optimistic that a return to in-person classes five days each week is going to be possible by October 1. I want to assure the community that we are ready to bring our students into our schools with very stringent protocols and best practices for health and safety in place.
Beginning this week, our full faculty and staff are back at work in our buildings for the 2020-21 school year. We are starting the year with extensive professional development and training that ranges from coronavirus health and safety to remote and blended learning strategies and PBIS as well as Restorative Practices, just to name a few. This school year, the entire district staff will be taking a deep dive into issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, which continues to be a cornerstone of our multi-year strategic plan.
We have been working on a very detailed Reset and Restart School 2020 plan since last spring. The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD) has been by our side throughout the summer months and I want the community to know that we have a TLCHD-approved plan in place. Our plan meets Ohio Health Department, CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics best practices and protocols. We realize that not all schools chose to comply with the health department’s recommendations, but the Maumee City Schools Board of Education members were unanimous in their agreement that we closely monitor coronavirus data in Lucas County, looking for a downward trend in cases, for the health and safety of all Maumee students and staff. The board agreed that when this is the case, we will be ready to return students to our classrooms full time.
Our optimism grew on August 20 when the governor concurred with the Ohio High School Athletic Association that fall sports would be allowed to compete. I want to commend Maumee’s high school and middle school administrators – and specifically our athletic directors and coaches – for the countless hours of meetings and planning they put in over the summer to ensure our student-athletes would be safe, in condition and ready to compete.
One outcome of the pandemic and limited in-person seating in stadiums and gymnasiums is that Maumee’s varsity football games and many of our other varsity sports teams will have their contests livestreamed this fall via the BCSN sports app and our school district YouTube channel. This means that fans who may not feel comfortable coming out to events will be able to watch from home. If you need information about livestreaming, please visit the Maumee City Schools website at www.maumee.k12.oh.us.
We Are Prepared
We are prepared to bring students back into our school buildings just as soon as possible. Our Reset and Restart School 2020 plan was designed with input from over 50 staff members, students and parents who contributed hundreds of hours over the summer to ensure we can start school in a safe, responsible manner.
Beginning on Tuesday, September 8, you will see Maumee school buses back on the road and students will be in our buildings for short periods of time as we begin our new K-12 KickStart orientation program. Middle and high school students will come to school in very small groups for either a morning or afternoon session to meet their teachers, rotate through their first-term schedule of classes, get comfortable accessing educational software and understanding expectations for this school year. Our elementary parents, with their child, will have a 45-minute session with their child’s classroom teacher, who will identify strengths and areas that may need additional support, review expectations, demonstrate learning software and help ensure each child has the most positive and successful transition to the new school year.
K-12 KickStart dates are Tuesday-Friday, September 8-11. Then, on Monday, September 14, all students will be learning virtually with their classroom teachers providing live as well as prerecorded lessons for their students.
For our students who are planning to continue learning at home even after we are able to reopen our schools, their KickStart orientations will be handled via Zoom sessions with their classroom teachers or teaching teams. If you are not already aware, the school district provided parents with a choice for this school year between in-person classes for their child or receiving a 100-percent virtual education. The split is about 80 percent of our families choosing for their children to return to the classroom full time and 20 percent learning from home.
We Are Grateful
We are extremely grateful to the Maumee community for the ongoing support we continue to receive. Parents have answered the call at every turn, as we had to pivot our education plans in response to the pandemic. This community’s collective spirit shown over the past six months has been awe-inspiring.
As examples, the Maumee Athletic Boosters built out the Panther Den apparel store at Kazmaier Stadium and they will be selling Maumee Panthers clothing and swag during athletic events this fall. Parents and community members joined our staff on four Reset and Restart School 2020 task forces that were instrumental in having us ready to welcome students back to school in our buildings this fall. Also, parents, MHS alumni and community members supported a crowdfunding campaign that raised thousands of dollars to put music kits into the hands of many elementary school students so that sharing and repeated sanitation will not be necessary and they will still have robust experiences in their virtual music classes.
Next week, we will have a book drive, taking place with a goal of collecting 4,000 gently loved books appropriate for our elementary school readers. Books will be given away to our students to allow them to expand their home libraries and a love of reading.
Finally, the entire Maumee City Schools staff remains committed to each student’s success and have the utmost confidence that we will deliver a high-value educational experience, regardless of the delivery format. Our mission is simple: Invest in every child, every day, to ensure all students find their success. Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work to provide the best and safest educational options for every Maumee student.