GCSC keeps COVID-19 contingencies open

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

With students learning virtually during this two-day holiday week and Greencastle Community Schools moving to Stage 2 of its COVID-19 protocol next week, school administrators are trying to prepare for whatever comes next.

Now if they only knew what that was.

During the monthly meeting of the Greencastle School Board Monday, Supt. Jeff Gibboney gave the board some updates on how the corporation is currently dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

Gibboney noted that virtual learning this week and moving high school and middle school students to a hybrid model beginning next week is not the result of a big spread of COVID-19 within the schools.

Instead, a lot of staff members across multiple departments and buildings are having to quarantine due to contact tracing guidelines, leaving the schools with a shortage of available staff.

As of Sunday, there were nine active cases in the corporation.

“It is our goal to get our students back into our buildings,” Gibboney said. “That is where they learn the best. We’re working to do that the best we can. The situation, obviously, can change at any time.”

Under Stage 2, students at the middle and high schools will attend in person twice a week, with the days depending on the first letter of their last names. On all other days, students will learn virtually.

The three elementary schools, on the other hand, will learn in person in Stage 2.

Gibboney said that when officials believe they can bring everyone back, all day, every day, they will.

This constitutes Stage 1, in which all students in all grade levels may attend class in person, with requirements of masks, social distancing and deep cleaning.

Stage 3, on the other hand, means at-home learning for all students.

The superintendent thanked the parents and grandparents who have done their best to assist their students through the difficulties of at-home learning.

He also noted that money has been set aside for tutoring at all grade levels.

“We certainly want to assist any students where needed,” Gibboney said.

Assistant Supt. Jenny French noted that the after-school program for students in fifth grade through eighth grade remains operational during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. As part of this program, students may seek tutoring — in person or virtually — on weekdays from 3-6 p.m.

The typical activities of the after-school program will also be ongoing.

French also said that when elementary schools go to e-learning or virtual learning, child care is available through Elite Gymnastics and Child Care Center at a minimal cost to families. The center, in the Putnam County Museum building, also has a separate classroom set up to help students with their learning activities.

Gibboney also said with recent increases in cases, he will no longer be sending out notifications to all parents each time there is a new positive case in the corporation.

Instead, the corporation website will soon have a COVID-19 dashboard with numbers updated each week.

“Certainly if there’s an update to our stages of learning in terms of our instructional model, we will send out an email for that,” Gibboney said.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the purchase of two new buses for the 2021-22 school year.

Transportation Director Kyle Clearwaters sought three bids each for an 84-passenger bus and a 28-passenger model.

At the recommendation of both Clearwaters and Gibboney, the board accepted a bid for each.

The corporation will purchase an 84-passenger Bluebird from McCallister Transportation at a cost of $123,924, as well as a Collins 28-passenger model from Midwest Transit for $55,836.

While the order is being placed now, the school will take delivery in June 2021 and pay for the vehicles from tax distributions at that time.

• Approved school calendars for the next two years.

School will begin next year on Wednesday, Aug. 4, with winter break beginning Dec. 20. Students return to class on Jan. 6, 2022, with the last student day set for Tuesday, May 24 and graduation on Friday, May 27.

The 2022-23 calendar is similar, with school starting on Aug. 3, 2022 and concluding on May 23, 2023.

Of note, snow days will soon be a thing of the past for GCSC students.

“Now that we have eLearning days, we will not build in any snow days,” Gibboney said.

The superintendent also noted that there is time to make adjustments to both calendars.

The academic calendars for this year and the next two are available at www.greencastle.k12.in.us/information/calendar.

• Accepted a $2,000 donation from the Putnam County Community Foundation to Deer Meadow Primary School.

• Recognized the students of the month:

Greencastle High School: Isaiah Hernandez

Greencastle Middle School: Kayla Dickey

Tzouanakis: Evelyn Ryan-Shager

Deer Meadow: Tripp Lewis

Ridpath: T.J. Bannister

• Approved a number of personnel items:

New hires: Janet King as GMS cafeteria assistant floater, Neva Brown as 21st Century Community Learning Center instructional assistant.

Temporary assignments: Bryce Rector as Algebra II teacher for one period at GHS; Michelle Hendershot and Jennifer Schlatter as long-term teachers for Elizabeth Timberman at Tzouanakis.

FMLA: Tzouanakis third-grade teacher Elizabeth Temberman, Tzouanakis teacher Carmen Coons, Central Office receptionist Ashley Jackson.

Unpaid leave: Bus driver Teona Sawyer.

Transfers: Joy Fortune from Ridpath noon aide to instructional assistant, Wanda Hutcheson from Ridpath instructional assistant to noon aide, Russell Paige from substitute bus driver to full-time bus driver.

Substitutes: Sharon Pitcock, Kaleb Camacho and Maggie Meyer hired as substitute teachers.

Extra-curricular activities: Samantha Call approved as GHS winter events supervisor and eighth-grade girls’ basketball coach, Jessica Briones approved as JV softball coach, Zach Frank approved as GHS volunteer assistant boys’ basketball coach, Roger Dortch approved as volunteer seventh-eighth-grade girls’ basketball coach, Kaleb Camacho approved as volunteer seventh-eighth-grade boys’ basketball coach, Heidi Menzel hired as GMS swim coach, Amy Thomas approved as GHS Thespian Club sponsor, Amy Weliever approved as GMS publications sponsor.

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