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SH continues in-person school for now

SH continues in-person school for now SH continues in-person school for now
Marie Mills, Contributing Writer

The coronavirus remained a topic of interest for the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees when it meet for the first time in 2022.

To begin the meeting last Tuesday evening, the board elected officers for the new year. Mary Mathis will remain president, while Karen Lopp will serve as vice president and Barbara Smith was chosen as secretary.

Other various other appointments were made before Dr. Mark Eastridge, superintendent of the school corporation, gave a COVID-19 update.

The only positive COVID cases at the time were three students, all in the junior/senior high school level, four staff members and two people in quarantine, Eastridge said, adding that the school was following the federal and state guidelines and would shift the current policy as needed.

Eastridge advised there are no plans for the school corporation to go to virtual learning at this time.

Getting an accurate COVID count was challenging between the holidays, Eastridge said, as was the updated guidelines on who would be allowed to have a rapid test.

The Indiana State Health Dept. recently released that only those 18 or younger, or people older than 50 who are symptomatic would be allowed a rapid test.

Eastridge also told the board he had received information that the Harrison County Health Dept. was currently out of rapid COVID tests.

On Jan. 14, vaccines will be available for students in grades 7 and above, Eastridge said, but parent permission would be required.

Eastridge reiterated that the vaccine is a parental choice and parents need to do what they believe is best for their children.

Also at the meeting, Lancer & Beebe, an architecture firm out of Indianapolis, gave a presentation about a proposal to assess current facilities and advise the board on what would need upgrading in the near future.

Terry Lancer explained it will be a thorough assessment of not just buildings, but mechanical, security, parking, etc. Lancer advised the plan would take at least four months to complete.

Allison Schalk updated the board on the school’s Multiple Tier System of Support, explaining there are two separate tier systems to help students in need. One tier for non-academic, and the other is for academic.

The system allows for the teacher or staff, after in-class strategies have been attempted, to refer a student to the program, Schalk said. The program then begins a series of steps aimed at keeping a student from needing a special education referral.

Schalk said parents or guardians will be a part of the complete process.

Students who are facing academic challenges will have an action plan developed with their teachers, differing on whether the issues are skill-based or motivational-based. If the academic plan does not correct the issue, then a meeting with the MTSS team and the parents will be conducted. At this time, the team will collect more data and the student will either be referred to the school counselor or Centerstone. If continued intervention is needed, a formal student plan will be formulated along with increased intervention.

Referral to special education will begin only if proceeding interventions are unable to correct the issue, Schalk said.

The same type of tier program will be conducted if the challenge is emotional, social or behavioral with emphasis on counseling.

The goal is to help the students without having to refer them to Special Education.

As of this time, Schalk explained, the program is very successful.

Diane Owens told the board about the ESSER grants and how some of the monies are being used in conjunction with the MTSS program to provide data on students’ academic progress and allow parent participation in the process. The grants are enabling the school to purchase technology that helps track a student’s successes as well as show where their skills need enhanced. Parents can see the progress and give encouragement to their children through the program.

Extended school day versus summer school was also discussed with no firm conclusion at this time.

Smith closed out the meeting by commenting on the Christmas programs given at the various schools in Harrison County. She said the New Middletown students especially moved her with their heart-felt songs and it was hard not to cry as they sang the old Christmas songs from the heart.

The board of trustees’ next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. at the administrative office in Corydon.