Some Twinsburg parents think masks should be optional for all students
- 99% of families want to return to campus
- Advisory contract approved 3-2
- The energy saving program is progressing well
TWINSBURG – Several parents from schools in Twinsburg have spoken out for and against the district’s policy on masking in buildings.
Currently, the district will make face coverings optional for students aged 12 and over, and optional for staff who work with this age group. Masking will be mandatory for students under 12, staff who work with them and for staff working with medically fragile students.
Superintendent Kathryn Powers said at the July 14 Education Council meeting that she recently met other regional superintendents with Donna Skoda of Summit County Public Health. Skoda has expressed concerns about COVID-19 variants and told districts they “may have to pivot” over the next school year. Powers added that so far, around 1,500 parents have responded to a survey to find out whether they would prefer their students to be on campus or whether they would prefer to enroll in a virtual option.
âNinety-nine percent said they wanted to come back to campus,â Powers said. “I’m very happy with this. It shows confidence in the district.”
Two parents have asked the school board to reconsider mandatory face coverings for children 11 and under.
Katie McVey, who lives in Twinsburg, said she has four children in Twinsburg schools, a seventh grade, a fourth grade and twins entering first grade.
âThree out of four of them will need to mask themselves,â McVey said. “And they don’t want to do it again.”
McVey said young children are less likely to contract COVID-19 and a lower risk of serious illness, and several other districts have made masks optional for everyone.
According to information from Summit County Public Health, as of July 14, the average number of new cases over the past seven days was 10. There have been 124 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Summit County.
âThere are now a low number of cases,â McVey said. “They do not justify children aged 3 to 11 wearing masks all day. Some children cannot understand others, or cannot be understood, with masks.”
McVey said a good compromise would be for masks to be optional when they’re in the classroom, when there are social distancing measures in place.
Jim Lucko, also of Twinsburg, said he agrees with McVey.
âIt seems there are some people who think wearing a mask has negative effects,â Lucko said. “A lot of the things that have been decided don’t seem to take into account all the positive and negative aspects. Give parents a choice.”
However, Jeanine Gardinsky, who sent her statement to read at the meeting, said she was a nurse and warned against loosening protocols too soon.
âOnce you’ve ordered a body refrigerated truck, it changes your perspective,â Gardinsky said. “And yes, we used them. The more flexible protocols would be a mistake.” She added that one family’s decision could impact other families.
âYes, young children usually don’t develop severe symptoms, but how would you feel if a child died or had prolonged symptoms? Gardinsky asked.
Resident Michael Walker said that whatever the final decision of the school board, he hoped he would engage more with the community and seek their advice.
Advisory contract approved 3-2
The school board approved a 3-2 contract with Eric Brunton Consulting LLC in Lyndhurst for business consulting services from August 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022.
Board chair Tina Davis, board vice chair Mark Curtis and member Rob Felber voted for the contract, and board members Adrienne Gordon and Angela DeFabio voted against.
Under the contract, Eric Brunton Consulting would be paid $ 60 per hour, up to 650 hours. Payment would come from the general district fund.
Curtis said the company “has done work for us in the past.”
Powers said Brunton “spearheaded efforts to move many items” around school buildings and helped “bring district equipment and staff back to their place.” She added that Brunton was a former educator and even helped the district transportation department “a few years ago”.
Neither Gordon nor DeFabio explained why they opposed the contract, although Felber requested a discussion as the legislation was withdrawn for a separate vote. On Thursday, Gordon posted on his Facebook page that “my ‘no’ has to do with the contract which has no clear deliverables associated with it, and the general statement of work in the cover letter and the hourly rate appearing to have a big shift In my opinion. “
The energy saving program is progressing
Chad Welker, district business manager, said the district’s energy conservation projects, which focused on lighting, mechanical systems and controls, were progressing well.
âThe high school interior lighting is 99% complete,â Welker said. He added that the lighting at High School, RB Chamberlin Middle School and Dodge Middle School has been completed, and lighting in the rest of the middle and middle schools “is underway.”
The remaining lighting work, as well as the lighting for Wilcox and Bissell Primary Schools, is expected to begin at the start of the school year, Welker said. Outdoor lighting upgrades will begin in late summer or fall.
Obsolete checks at middle and middle schools have been replaced, Welker said.
âWe were using a dial-up modem control system,â Welker said. âWe were really excited to get the upgrades. “
The entire district-wide control system is expected to be up and running by this winter, Welker said.
Work on the boiler and pump systems at Wilcox, Bissell and Dodge is expected to begin this month and is expected to be completed this fall, Welker said. Additionally, cooling upgrades are planned for the end of the cooling season, and other mechanical upgrades are expected to be completed by this winter.
In March, the school board approved a nearly $ 2.3 million contract with Gardiner Service Co. in Solon to update lighting and HVAC systems in the five school buildings.
Journalist April Helms can be contacted at [email protected]