I still shake my head over the emergence of COVID-19, the drastic changes to our society and how the end of this school year is playing out. If you would have told me this is how it would be, I would have never believed it. With all this in mind, we are consistently working to be as proactive as possible. Here are some updates:
Fall 2020 - As we approach the end of the year, many of our discussions have turned toward the start of the next academic year. I have heard the surprised reactions of some who read that Marietta College was planning to have students on campus and in class in the fall. To be clear, that is my hope as well. I am hopeful that we will all be together for the start of the school year just as we have been for decades. We are preparing to have students on campus and classes in person, but the reality is that we must have alternative plans in the event that it is not possible.
We are working to make changes in our instruction that will allow us the instructional agility to effectively work in a blended or remote format. We have to prepare to provide instruction both face to face and virtually simultaneously. For some of our grades and subject matters it has been difficult to move learning forward so instead we offered enrichment and reinforcement activities. The biggest change is to go from assigning work to providing instruction. I have formed three groups (Instruction, Logistics and Health/Safety) that will tackle the task and will develop a plan for the coming school year because getting ahead of the situation is critical.
Budget Cuts - We assumed that the impact of the spread of COVID -19 on the economy would eventually hit our budget. Governor Dewine announced last week that he was going to eliminate $300 million dollars from public education across the state. For MCS, the hit will be $581,000.00 from our budget THIS school year and more the following year. That is a significant blow to our revenue and we are having to make some difficult decisions. My hope is that through attrition (retirements and departures), I can reduce staffing enough to offset this sudden and unexpected loss.
Meals - At the moment we are serving roughly 1,000 meals a day at our various sites. The program has been received well by our community because we have been able to fulfill a need. That will continue through the month of May. When we roll into June we will make some changes to our distribution locations, but meals will still be available throughout the month of June.
Seniors 2020 - Our seniors have had an unbelievable year. Unless we can reschedule events at a later date, they will have lost many of those traditional rights of passage that we take for granted ... prom, spring sports, award recognition events and graduation. They have worked hard for 13 years and will not experience the joy that the traditional graduation celebrations provide or have the proper closure to move on to that next big step in life. Graduation is much more than a ceremony. Even though our seniors won't have this traditional end to their high school careers, we want them to still experience a ceremony and walk away from Marietta High School with an incredible sense of achievement. As I write, details for the MHS Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation are being finalized. With this Virtual Graduation, it's our hope that our seniors and their families will still feel the excitement and joy of this milestone in their lives. We will keep you informed on this and other items when we can.