Mid-Prairie board balks at half-time recommendation

Posted 7/29/20

It’s back to the drawing board for Mid-Prairie administrators.

At the tail end of a three-hour meeting Monday night, Mid-Prairie school board members balked at the administration’s …

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Mid-Prairie board balks at half-time recommendation

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It’s back to the drawing board for Mid-Prairie administrators.

At the tail end of a three-hour meeting Monday night, Mid-Prairie school board members balked at the administration’s proposal to open school with an in-person, half-time option.

Superintendent Mark Schneider presented the administration’s recommendation to offer parents three learning options for the opening of the 2020-21 school year.

The options included the Home School Assistance Program, the newly approved Mid-Prairie virtual academy and a part-time, in-person plan.

In that plan, students would be divided into two groups.

One group would attend in-person classes on Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday, while the second group would attend Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday.

Schneider said that the plan is in line with the state’s mandate that schools must offer a minimum of 50% in-person instruction when they return to school next month.

He said that the recommendations are a result of a parent survey, a district employee survey and input from administrators.

“As you might imagine, there is a wide variety of opinions,” Schneider said. “They are all over the place, but the one thing I’ve never doubted in any conversation that I’ve had with anybody, they all wanted the same thing

“They all wanted the best for their child if they have children. They all wanted what’s best for the school district. They all wanted what’s best for the people who work for the school district.”

He said that administrators met last week to put together a consensus recommendation to present to the board.

While the board did not reject the part-time plan – no action was taken – board members all said they want to see a full-time option.

“My big concern is that there is no option for us to return 100%,” board Vice President Jeremy Pickard said. “I think there’s a large number of folks who have reached out to me and that I’ve talked to that would be comfortable with their student coming back 100%, that would be comfortable in that environment even if they possibly couldn’t get the six feet of social distance.”

Board member Mary Allred said, “I would love to see an option of 100% back to at least see what it looks like and if it’s something that we could do.”

Board member Jeremy Gugel said that he is concerned with the effects of isolation has on students’ mental health.

“The mental health data and aspects of what we’ve gone through in the last three months is greater than anything else we face,” Gugel said, adding that the isolation is causing greater rates of mental health issues and suicide.

The school board has scheduled another special meeting for 7 p.m., Monday in the Mid-Prairie High School cafeteria where action will be taken on plans to open the school year.

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