So far, the South Callaway R-2 School District's vigilance has paid off: the district currently has no active cases of COVID-19, according to Superintendent Kevin Hillman.
Two students and one teacher are currently in quarantine because they were in contact with someone who later tested positive.
"I'm very grateful for our current situation," said South Callaway Elementary Principal Corey Pontius. "So far, teachers, staff and families have been taking all our protocols very seriously."
Should an outbreak occur, with enough cases and absences to shut down the district, teachers and students should be ready to make a smooth transition to distance learning. That's in part thanks to the work of the district's two instructional coaches, who gave an update during Wednesday's South Callaway Board of Education meeting.
Even before the school year started, Danielle Hecktor and Whitney McCaulley (instructional coaches for grades 6-12 and pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, respectively) were hard at work helping teachers prepare for a difficult year. As instructional coaches, they partner with teachers in a number of ways, including mentoring first- and second-year teachers and helping teachers develop effective teaching strategies.
"We worked with Chad Hecktor, my husband (and current events/computer applications teacher at South Callaway Middle School), to create a teacher guidebook," Hecktor said.
This easily searchable guidebook contains vital information for teachers, including how to use the teaching software that's become extra-important in during the ongoing pandemic. For families, the two developed a "tech checklist" listing all the apps and programs that need to be loaded onto devices for distance learning.
They also strategized with teachers about how to improve communication with patrons if the district goes to distance learning again, as it did this spring. Hecktor pointed out she and her husband have five children in school, and at the end of each week each of their children got an email from each of their teachers. It got a bit overwhelming, she said.
Their goal is to "keep communication more simple" during any future shut-downs, Hecktor said.
"We met with each staff member and went over their goals," McCaulley said.
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The two feel teachers are in a good position to face a hypothetical move to distance learning.
"I'm completely amazed at where we're at," McCaulley admitted.
Hillman echoed their confidence.
"If we have to go to distance learning for any length of time at all we did a good job in spring, and we want to hold it in place," he said.
Also during Wednesday's meeting, Board of Education members voted to adopt a number of policy changes proposed by the Missouri School Boards Association. Reasons for the updates vary; those listed include need for clarification, new legislation, legal advice and court outcomes.
The motion passed with little discussion, though Hillman did pause to highlight a couple of the changes. In particular, he clarified a policy titled "Interviews with or Removal of Students."
That policy change reads: "Based on a federal district court decision, MSBA has taken the position that law enforcement not be allowed to interview students at school with limited exceptions. MSBA is concerned that a district that such interviews could be found to have participated in an unconstitutional seizure of a student. The district should notify law enforcement if this policy is adopted."
Hillman said the policy change shouldn't impact the school resource officer's ability to do their job in investigating incidents that occur on campus.
"If a law enforcement officer happens to be on campus, they're not to conduct an interview with a student about something that happened off campus (or after school hours)," he explained.