GALION — Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Galion City Schools will begin classes for the 2021-2022 academic year on Thursday, Aug. 19. The district conducted meet and greet activities and orientation sessions for students Monday through Wednesday to prepare for the new year.
After a year of operating under strict regulations put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Galion Middle School Principal Paul Wheeler and Assistant Principal Brian Kinnard said they’re looking forward to having students back in the building full-time. The middle school conducted its open house on Monday evening.
“I’m ready to have kids back in the building,” said Kinnard.
“It’s going to be good,” Wheeler said. “We’ve done a lot of work to make this a welcoming place for kids.”
Wheeler noted that several policies and procedures instituted as a result of COVID-19 actually turned out to be more efficient than previous regulations, so they’ve decided to keep them in place.
“We evaluated what worked, what didn’t work, what we needed to change, what we could go back to from before,” Wheeler said. “We’re just, basically, going to make the middle school experience as normal as we can for kids, but at the same, we have to be flexible and ready because at the drop of a hat we could be told that things are changing and you need to adjust. We’ll make those adjustments as we go because we’re prepared. We spent the summer getting prepared in case we have to make adjustments.”
Kinnard said one of the changes the middle school made last year and has decided to adopt permanently is its procedure for students arriving at the building in the morning and departing in the afternoon.
“Prior to COVID-19, kids would come in and leave through two entrances. That was it,” Kinnard said. “Now with our building we’re fortunate enough we can spread them out and use three doors by grade level.”
“It’s just a safer environment for everybody and actually it goes a little bit quicker,” Wheeler added. “There’s less congestion and conflict.”
Wheeler said administrators also reduced the amount of time between classes, which he said has reduced tardiness and congregating in the halls or the restrooms.
“We closed the restrooms between classes,” he said. “They have to ask permission (from teachers) to go (once they’re in the classroom). Before they’d go hang out in the bathroom and talk between classes instead of just going to class. It stopped a lot of the congestion in the restrooms and the hallways.”
Kinnard said the policy helps teachers keep track of students and maintain order.
Enrollment at Galion Middle School is just short of 400 students, Kinnard said. Wheeler noted that about 70 students who were enrolled in online classes full-time last year will now be back in the classroom this year.
“We’ll have all of our new sixth graders who have never been in the building and we’ve actually got a whole group of seventh graders who have never been in the building as well,” Wheeler said. “So we’ve got some challenges of getting them comfortable and giving them the supports they need when they come into the building.”
Kinnard praised the staff for the time and effort they’ve put in this summer preparing for the new year.
“We have a great staff,” Kinnard said. “They’re very loving, very caring. Middle school’s a hard time and I’m pretty proud of our staff for how they welcome kids and help support them to be successful in a variety of ways.”
Superintendent Jennifer Allerding said last week that the district’s return and reset policy for the 2021-2022 school year does not require students, staff, and visitors to campus to wear face masks, but the practice is recommended. She noted that the district is trying to create a “mask-friendly” atmosphere and encouraging people to respect the choices others have made in regard to wearing or not wearing masks.
“Students and families or community members that come on our campus or come to our games have the option of wearing a mask,” Allerding said. “We’re going to leave it up to our families to make decisions that are best for themselves and for their children. … I think it’s important to remember that everyone has their own particular reason why they’re choosing to wear a mask. I think that’s important that we keep that in mind, that we be respectful to one another and those opinions and those choices that they’re making because, again, we want to create a collaborative, positive experience for everyone that’s here at Galion City Schools, whether you choose to mask or not.”
Following are the daily schedules for each Galion City Schools building:
• Galion Primary School — 8:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
• Galion Intermediate School — 8:05 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.
• Galion Middle School — 7:25 a.m. to 1:55 p.m.
• Galion High School — 7:25 a.m. to 1:57 p.m.
For information about the district, go to www.galionschools.org.
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