Parent’s Playbook: John Glenn School Corporation

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 6:26 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - When some football players at John Glenn tested positive for COVID last month, officials acted quickly and put some families in quarantine, including the school superintendent.

He spoke on our morning show today with our own Tricia Sloma about the experience he had in tonight's Parent's Playbook.

Tricia Sloma: Our Parent's Playbook takes us to Walkerton where the John Glenn School Corporation is set to start school on August 11th. Joining me now someone who knows just how important those testing protocols are and quarantine. Mr. Chris Winchell, good to see you.

Mr. Winchell: Good morning. Thanks for having me, Tricia.

Tell me about your recent experience with quarantine.

Well, as I've shared with the community here, I've had my own experience with the COVID quarantine. My son is a member of the football team and we had a positive case on the team and it required us to shut down one of the football pods and encourage those kids and parents to watch for symptoms and to go get tested and, in the process of that my son was one of the student athletes who got tested and ended up testing positive and our six person family had to shut down and spend two weeks in the house together. So it's been, as many people have asked me, COVID symptoms are low and nobody is there but Cabin Fever was high. We're excited to all be back, back into our normal routine today.

Well that speaks to what is so important with all of this and that is regular testing and being on top of it, right?

Well it does and you know, we made a promise to our parents that we would open up activities as much as we could and as we opened those things up, we would cohort our kids and we would pod our kids and we would follow the guidelines from the Indiana Department of Education and State Department of Health, as well as the local departments of health we've also followed IHSAA guidelines and we've even put in our own more strict guidelines just help keep everyone healthy and safe. And as we've had some issues surface then we've done also what we promised was we would shut, shut those programs down one cohort group, one pod at a time and communicate with families per the health department's guidance. And even though we've had to wrestle with a couple of positive cases, we feel like the plan that we've had in place has been really successful to keep kids in small groups and then also be able to shut down those small groups instead of having to shut down entire campuses.

Well let's talk back to school and reopening school. Last week's letter to parents talked about the JG Online Academy. Tell me how that's going to be different from the e-learning in the spring?

Sure. It's basically we're looking at an academy model just as a response to feedback we got from parents. I mean last spring was obviously an emergency shutdown situation. But some of the feedback we got from parents was that there was a struggle at home without having the helping hand of the teachers and so a lot of parents have said hey, we really need more involvement, more support from the teachers. So we're really looking at three scenarios here at John Glenn. We've got the scenario where we want to provide more live instruction, live interaction between the teachers and the kids. And to provide a little bit more hands on help, even though it will be via the computer via the Internet to get the school year started. Then we've also got a group of kids who are working families and we have lots of daily responsibilities and so that group is saying to us hey, we really need the model from last year where information and lessons are posted and we're able to work at times at our own pace. And then we also have another group who says hey we still do not have reliable internet so we're going to need some support, aside from everything virtual.

Quickly, Falloween is one of your big fundraisers for scholarships. What's the plan this fall?

Well unfortunately we've had to cancel our traditional Falloween, just because of the inability to really provide social distancing and that sort of setting. But the committee is working really hard with our community partners, still put together some fun activities for that weekend. There's definitely going to be a drive thru food court of sorts. And we're also working on some other activities that might be able to be done in a virtual or in a drive thru outdoor sort of manner.

Well stay healthy Mr. Winchell, and we wish you the best as you head back to school.

Well thank you so much and we appreciate everything WNDU does for us in the community so it’s my pleasure to be with you this morning.

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