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MHS board approves changes to remote learning for second semester

School's in-person learning to remain the same

Mendota High School administrators reported to the Board of Education at Monday’s meeting they have had some issues with remote learning.

“I would say it’s not a great success,” MHS principal Denise Aughenbaugh said. “We have very serious concerns about remote learners.”

Aughenbaugh said anecdotally, the students who were high performers while in school continue to be while in remote learning, while students who struggled with attendance and work ethic while in school are still struggling in remote learning.

“The highs and lows are exactly the same,” Aughenbaugh said about remote and in-person learning. “We’re really struggling with some of the middle group, the average student. There are many kids who need to be in the classroom with a teacher. They need the teacher to redirect them. They need the teacher to explain or show them a different way or another example. Students are lacking that.”

Aughenbaugh noted the school has paraprofessionals are making attendance calls daily and home visits are being made.

To help combat some of the issues of students not logging on enough or completing all work, the administration recommended putting more weight on participation for the second semester of remote learning.

“We’re really hopeful it’s going to reward students who should be rewarded and also motivate kids who need to see they need to log in every day,” Aughenbaugh said.

The school also will be sending out bi-weekly progress reports during the second semester so parents can see their students’ level of participation.

While the administration recommended changes to remote learning, which the board approved, Mendota superintendent Jeff Prusator said the school wants to leave the in-person setup as is with students attending from 8:05 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. five days per week.

“We’re hanging in there OK, but the last couple weeks have been kind of rough,” Prusator said. “Who knows what’s going to happen. There are rumors there’s going to be another shutdown, but staff-wise we’re doing OK. Some days it’s a little thin, but as of now we think we can cover it. We have not had a case of it spreading at school. I think we all feel relatively good about being in school up to this point. We’d like to continue and take it each day as it comes.”

Prusator said the school is sending out something this week to see how many students want to attend in-person and how many plan to be remote for the second semester.

“We need to have responses back by mid-December to give us a month to take a look at classroom space and relocate things if necessary,” Prusator said.

Also Monday, the board approved the health insurance renewal at 2.94 percent.

“Anytime you see something under 10 percent, we feel that’s acceptable,” Prusator said. “If it’s at 5 percent or under, we get excited. This year, we’re at 2.94 percent renewal. The initial number came in at 8.4. Our insurance people went back and asked for relief from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and got it reduced. We’re pretty happy with that.”

The board also approved adding a second bowling coach to have one for the boys team and one for the girls instead of one for both teams. Tyler Schmitt was approved to coach the boys team and Kassidi Guerrero was hired to coach the girls.

Aughenbaugh also presented the school’s report card, which she said had many blanks this year due to school’s missing state testing last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

She did tell the board the school’s four-year graduation rate was 89.6 percent, which is above the state average of 88 percent, while Mendota’s five-year graduation rate of 89.2 percent was above the state average of 88.4.

Aughenbaugh did note the school continues to struggle with the ninth grade on track numbers. Mendota is at 88 percent of freshman on track to graduate in four years, which is less than the state average of 92 percent.

“We’ll continue to work on that transition,” Aughenbaugh said.

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