Waverly Community Schools reapprove COVID-19 plan, return to in-person classes

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The Waverly Community Schools Board of Education reapproved its plan to send students back to in-person classes starting in March during its meeting Feb. 8.

According to the school’s plan, students in grades K-4 will return to in-person classes on March 1, while grades 5-12 will return to in-person classes on April 12. Students at all grade levels have the option to remain in remote, online classes for the rest of the semester.

Because Waverly will continue to support remote learning, students who attend in-person classes will be shifted back to online schooling should a student or classroom need to go into quarantine.

Students in grades K-6 will attend schools for four hours Monday through Friday, while students in grades 7-12 will attend school for four hours Monday through Thursday, but have online, asynchronous class on Fridays rather than in-person class.

Masks are required at all times for students and staff in classrooms and on buses, except during meals and recess. Students taking the bus will each have their own seats (unless, for example, a household member also rides that bus), and buses will be disinfected after every trip.

School water fountains will be shut off for the rest of the year. Students are asked to bring their own water bottles. The district is still figuring out how to accommodate students who cannot bring water from home.

Dr. Lara Slee, Waverly’s Director of Teaching and Learning, reviews the district’s COVID-19 plan during the meeting. Read the district’s plan here.

Superintendent Kelly Blake said during the meeting that she is encouraged by the decline in COVID-19 cases throughout the area as well as the vaccinations of some Waverly staff members. 

Blake said that, while the district will do its best to follow the guidelines issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services, some requirements maintaining 6 feet of space between students in classrooms will be impossible to adhere to in certain spaces.

Monday’s school board meeting was the final meeting before students return to in-person classes. The school board approved the plan unanimously; nobody attending the meeting raised questions or concerns.

Waverly sports teams have already restarted their seasons. Christopher Huff, principal of Waverly High School, said teams were recently cleared to return to full-contact events and practices. Several sports, such as girls and boys basketball, had their first games during the week. 

In addition, the board approved the high school course offerings and curriculum for the upcoming school year.

Huff said graduation requirements had to change slightly due to the pandemic, omitting an advising requirement that was not offered this year with no students on campus. Huff said course offerings have been unchanged since the school moved to online-only learning last March.

“We didn’t want to create a whole bunch of new changes coming off from a very turbulent school year,” said Huff. “We’re trying to maintain the integrity of our course offerings and our entire education system, in general.

“There’s been tweaks for sure, but when we started this project, we said that we wanted and needed to keep things as similar as possible, as it would be in a normal situation.”

The school board also approved a plan to sell nearly $3.5 million in bonds, for projects such as remodeling buildings, installing new technology and buying buses.