CW Schools continue to adjust to COVID challenges

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar is pleased with the district’s roll-out of a new transportation plan to combat a lack of bus drivers, but continues to hope to return to normal operations as soon as possible.

During the Jan. 10 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting, the first day of the new plan where start and stop times for school buildings were changed, Sotlar said the plan, overall, “went pretty good.”

The high school, middle school, and Winchester Trail are now on a one-hour early dismissal and Indian Trail is on a one hour late start.

Parents with students at the elementary schools are being accommodated by either doors opening early for drop-offs at Indian Trail or staying open after the final bell at Winchester Trail for late pick-ups.

“We had about 65 students participating in the morning at Indian Trail,” said Sotlar, who said 25 to 35 parents took advantage of the program at Winchester Trail. It (new plan) is not the ideal situation we want to be in, but my goal is to maintain in-person learning on a consistent schedule…it keeps our parents and our students on a consistent schedule.”

Sotlar said the district will stay on the new schedule through the end of February when the situation will be re-evaluated.

“We’ll see what happens for March,” said Sotlar, who sent out an email earlier this month asking families to be prepared in case the district is forced to go on remote learning due to staff shortages. “We’re down bus drivers. That’s why we’re on this new schedule. We just have to be prepared and give as much notice as we possibly can, but I can’t tell you when morning comes how many people might call off sick for various reasons.”

Sotlar said he will do his best to get the word out in advance, but notification could be as late as the next morning of school. He urged everyone to be prepared just in case.

According to the district’s Jan. 2022 online COVID-19 Mask Metric Dashboard, even though the number of cases during December fell below the individual building threshold of 1.25 percent, the average throughout the district exceeded 0.5 percent of the total student population resulting in a districtwide mask required mandate.

Individual building cases of the virus are monitored on a weekly basis to determine COVID-19 averages for the following month in determining the district or individual building mask mandate. The data from Jan. 5-28 determines the mask status for February. Data for Jan.31-Feb. 25 determines the status for March. Feb. 28-Mar. 25 determines the status for April and data for April 4-29 determines the mask status for May.

Masks will be recommended for the following month if the average number of positive cases is less than 0.5 percent of the student population. Masks will be required if the number of positive cases is greater than 0.5 percent—20 or more student cases on average.

In December, the cumulative number for all four buildings was 23 cases.

Notification will be sent out before the beginning of the next month of the upcoming mask status, which is also posted at the top of the district’s website at

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