By Linda Dillman
The Canal Winchester Board of Education put a new mask policy in place on Oct. 18.
Based on the number of COVID cases throughout the district and in individual buildings, if the percentage of cases district-wide is .5 percent or less over a four week period, then masks would not be required, but recommended.
Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar said the determination whether or not to lift the mandate will be based on COVID numbers from Oct. 3-29. If numbers are higher than a half percent of the student population, then the mandate will remain in place, for at least a month.
The multi-pronged approach also includes allowances for individual buildings, so that if only one building is experiencing a rise in cases, other buildings would not fall under the same mask requirement.
“I want to make sure whatever we do is based on a trend of numbers going down,” said Board President Kevin Butler. “Whatever decision we make has got to be something we can sustain.”
If the building percentage of positive cases is more than 1.25 percent for one week, then masks are automatically required for at least two weeks. If numbers are less than 1.25 percent after two weeks, then the building moves back to masks optional.
Sotlar said the number of COVID cases and incidents of close contact quarantines are going down. From Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, there were 32 student cases, two staff cases, 213 student close contacts, and one staff close contact.
For the latest reporting period on Oct. 11, there were three student cases, two staff cases, 11 student close contacts and no staff close contacts.
“Our numbers are dropping very fast,” said Sotlar, “whether it’s attributed to masks or not. We’re still going to social distance and hand sanitize as best we can and encourage people to wear masks. The goal is to give all of us some options.”
The total number of student COVID cases since the start of school is 155, there were 707 cases of student close contacts, 22 staff Covid cases and five staff cases of close contact.
Sotlar added, “This puts a lot of responsibility back on our kids and parents.”
New board member named
The board appointed former district superintendent Steve Donahue to fill the remaining two months of Mike Yonnotti’s term. Yonnotti resigned from the board Sept. 28.
“We were looking for someone who could fill in a pinch and help the school district,” said Butler. “We had to find someone we felt would be a good fit and Steve was one of the first people to pop into my mind as a former superintendent and former city councilman.”
Football field and track improvements
The board approved a $871,015 contract with Hellas Construction to renovate the high school football field and track. The company plans to recycle all of the existing turf removed from the field before replacing it with new turf in alternating shades of light and dark green.
The track surrounding the field will be replaced with a black surface. Work is expected to start June 1 and completed by Aug. 1.
Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Nick Roberts said the core structure supporting upcoming field improvements was installed 12 years ago and paid for by boosters and donors.
“Hopefully by kickoff of the next football season, we’ll be ready,” said Butler. “We’ll bring in some of those extra bells and whistles as much as possible to make sure we’re as safe as possible for our athletes.”