Wellington school board to hold special meeting Thursday on whether to implement full-time schedule

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington school board will hold a special meeting Thursday to determine whether or not to go full time with the students.

By a 6-1 vote on Monday (board member Carol Hadorn opposing), the board has decided to gather input from the teachers, parents and the Sumner County Health Department to determine whether to nix the school opening hybrid plan in which half of the students participate in the morning and half go in the afternoon. Instead, the board appears to be migrating toward having the students go full time with the option of online remote learning.

The quick three-night turnaround is by no accident. The board wants to give the parents a firm decision. There was discussion about whether or not to wait and make the change at the nine-week period. But some board members, especially Tom Henning, said the decision to move to full-time needs to be made ASAP.

“Of all the e-mail I have been receiving, 80 to 90 percent are for going back to school fulltime,” Henning said.

Henning had made a motion to pull the trigger and mandate it for next Monday. The rest of the board was hesitant to pull the trigger at that moment wishing to get more input. The motion died for a lack of a second.

Board member Deanna Garver said she had spoken to one of the elementary principals and that person told her a lot of the teachers seemed to like the half-day schedules. Those teachers liked the smaller classroom and gave students more one-on-one time.

But board member Larry Mangan said he was concerned if the students were actually learning as much with the current system and especially with those learning remotely.

“There are also a lot of parents struggling to get through this,” Mangan said.

Wellington Superintendent Adam Hatfield said he would adhere to what the board will decide, but urged them to give the administration and staff time to implement a new shift in policy.

“We really have an excellent staff that has done a great job of adjusting to every change thrown their way,” Hatfield said. “But we still need some time to adjust if you decide to go full time.”

It all depends on the numbers. Currently, Sumner County has 20 active COVID-19 cases in numbers released today. That’s been steady for about two weeks. Since this pandemic started Sumner County has had 165 positive cases with 141 recoveries.

But October is looming, and many medical experts are wondering if the cases will tick upwards with colder weather. Traditionally, flu season starts up about this time.

Nevertheless, the trend is to open things up. Henning also suggested opening up the Friday night football games so that more fans could participate. For instance, each student is given two tickets to give to parents or other family members/friends. Henning suggested making it four.

The board took no action on that matter.

Hatfield said ultimately it will depend if the students can properly social distance and whether or not masks can be worn by students throughout the day. Getting young elementary students to wear a mask throughout the day may be especially daunting.

The remote learning would still go into effect for parents not wishing to have their children go to school.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the administrative office. There has been no decision at this time whether the meeting will be exclusively virtual as has been the case of previous meetings.

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