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First week of reopening goes well for district

Cornell School Board

All eyes were on the Cornell School District, as they resumed educational instruction Aug. 17, the first in-person classes since the schools closed in March, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many health changes have been implemented, middle/high school principal Dave Elliott says they are getting back into a routine.

Elliott said the school is working on a seamless delivery of the WIN program, which is curriculum through the eSucceed Charter School. Transcripted credit courses, elective projectbased courses and science classes, are also offered.

“My concern is being able to have the ability to have the parents look at some place to figure out how the heck their kids are doing,” said Elliott, as grades are entered through WIN as a point system, put in the infinite campus and entered as percentage. “What we need to be careful with, is to make sure mathematically, it adds up, so we’re working on that.”

Elliott also said when a student is on Zoom at home as part of My Choice – which gives the option of staying at home and tuning in as part of the classroom – it’s hard to go back and forth between the student and the teacher, if there are questions.

He also reported that using masks is going well, except for the kids eating slow so their masks are off longer. Elliott said the staff has to remind kids that their mask goes back on when re-entering the building and they are dealing with “grouping” up at the buses.

“Our temperatures have been great, things have been going well that way,” said Elliott.

Elliott said people are stepping up and helping out where needed.

“We have seen some students not where they should be, which we expected,” said superintendent Paul Schley, since the last semester was not what anyone wanted, after the statewide shutdown occurred in March. “But, we’ll get them there. Teachers are all focused on getting them where they need to be.”

Schley added that numbers are lower in the elementary building, as well, as the district is down 77 students. However, that doesn’t mean those students are not part of eSucceed or My Choice. The 4K class has 19 kids, normally around 30 or higher, with many parents opting to wait a year to enroll kids, which Schley says is fine.

“We allow that here,” he said. “We’re not real big class sizes, but that’s going to help with the teachers working with the kids.”

Currently, eSucceed has 31 enrolled from Cornell, while home schooling is at 18. Parents are responsible for their own curriculum and if students return to school, they will be tested to see if they are keeping up-to-date with their grade.

Schley said eSucceed has been great for those who wish to stay within the district, but don’t want their kids to attend school in-person.

“Obviously, we didn’t see this pandemic coming, but… I’m glad we have this option,” said Schley.

The school is tracking temperatures, who goes home sick and who the kids were around, for easier contact tracing and Schley says busing is going well.

“The harder we worked at planning, the luckier we got,” he said. “Hopefully, it keeps working well. It’s been one of the better starts we’ve had in a long time. These kids have really adjusted well to their masks…kids adapt.”

During the meeting, the board also approved Jason Jaenke as a sixth-grade teacher. The administration looked at the size and make-up of the sixth-grade group, and realized they needed a second teacher.

Jaenke, who formerly taught at the Ladysmith School District, has served as a special ed teacher, middle school teacher, and shop and technology person.

“He’s a utilitarian kind of hire,” said Elliott. “If we don’t need him for one class here, we can plug him in for a class here and allow that to be a benefit.”