Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update
Posted on 03/19/2020

We are excited to share a new MCS Covid-19 mcshub specifically dedicated to Mason City Schools’ COVID-19 response, resources, and updates.

3/30/2020 Update

Many of us are working to make sense of our new normal. As you discover (or re-discover!) ways to establish routines and connections, please consider sharing pictures or videos with us on Facebook and Twitter. We know our students are missing their teachers and classmates, and we love seeing you all!

Watch this video of Superintendent Jonathan Cooper sharing what our staff is doing during this time of Remote Learning, and watch to the end for a very important question posed by Mr. Cooper’s oldest son!

As of today at 2pm, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mason City Schools, and 1,933 confirmed cases in Ohio. Below are responses to common questions from our families and the public. 

When will we get to go back to school in person?
Today, Governor Mike DeWine announced that all Ohio K-12 school buildings will be closed through at least May 1st. During this time, your Mason City Schools administrators, educators and staff will continue to provide essential services to our students and families - including food distribution, remote learning, and mental wellness support. 

While remote learning cannot replace students’ experiences in schools with their teachers, administrators and support staff, we will do our best to prepare learners for the next steps in their educational journey.

What’s happening to events and field trips scheduled for April?
All April events and field trips have been cancelled. Mason High School’s Prom, which was to be held on April 25th, is postponed for the time being. If a decision is made at a later date to cancel prom, students will be able to receive a refund for their prom ticket.

Are school counselors available during Remote Learning?
Yes - our School Counselors are available to students in need during regular school hours on regularly scheduled school days. Families or students may call or email school counselors and will have the option to set up a virtual counseling session. If you have trouble getting in touch with a counselor or if you need more immediate assistance, you may also reach out to Mental Wellness Supervisor Nicole Pfirman at pfirmann@masonohioschools.com or by phone at 513-315-6775. 

My child missed picking up a Chromebook or it isn’t working. Can I still get one?
Beginning Tuesday, every day from 8:00AM-10AM and 12:00PM-2:00PM you may pick up or swap a Chromebook at the Mason Elementary entrance, 6307 Mason Montgomery Road. Only one person may enter the vestibule at a time, and we ask that everyone maintains social distancing. 

We are running low on devices, so please only pick up a Chromebook if your family doesn’t have access to a computer in your home. Please remember, all of our resources are cloud-based and can be accessed from a personally owned device.

What is happening with state testing?
Last week, the Ohio legislature approved House Bill 197 which eliminated state tests like the AIR tests and high school end-of-course exams for the 2019-2020 school year.  This coronavirus relief bill also allows members of the Class of 2020 to graduate if they are on track to do so, and eliminates the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for this year’s third graders. 

How can we support our commUNITY?
#CometCarryout: This is a very crucial time for our local businesses, especially those in hospitality. Consider supporting our local businesses on this list.  Participate in the Chamber’s MADE to Eat Takeout Blitz and see how many local restaurants you can support. In addition, donate to Joshua’s Place and choose “Comet Carryout” and you can bless a family in need with a meal from one of our local businesses.

School Supplies for Families in Need: Retired Mason teacher Gayle Ertel is the steward of three Little Libraries in Mason. Instead of books, for now the one on Tylersville Road (across from the Middle School) is filled with school supplies for anyone who needs them.  Please use the same precautions you would use when picking up groceries or food through a drive-through if you are willing to drop off supplies, or when picking them up.


3/29/2020 Update

We hope that your family was able to find some silver linings during this COVID-19 Spring Break. Please give yourself grace, and know that your schools are here for you and we will get through this - together.

 

Watch this video message from Superintendent Jonathan Cooper and his wife Michelle as he shares what our district’s transition to ongoing, remote learning experiences will look like this week.

As of yesterday at 2pm, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mason City Schools, and 1,406 confirmed cases in Ohio. Below are responses to common questions from our families and the public. 

Why did the district initially focus on meeting students’ basic needs and supplemental learning?

Our first priority was to ensure that we had plans to feed the children in our schools facing food insecurity. We are grateful to our child nutrition staff and transportation staff who worked with community partners like Joshua’s Place and the Comet Cupboard to create seven student meal sites, including food support during Spring Break. Click here to find out how to get meals for your family if you are facing food insecurity.

It was also important to give our educators time to build meaningful Remote Learning Experiences and learn how to use new tools to support remote learning. Many teachers have previous experience with remote learning tools and some teachers will be trying out new techniques and technology solutions for the very first time. There will be some initial bumps, but remote instruction and supports will improve over time. Please be patient and remember that many teachers are also parents so they understand what you’re going through! 

What can my child and I do to prepare for remote learning?

Now is a great time to ensure that your child has access to a device such as a Chromebook or laptop and that your family has internet access. If you need assistance getting connected to either of these resources, please email support@masonohioschools.comIn addition, taking the following steps will help to ensure your child can access resources when they are shared:

  • If your child is in grades PK-4, you will receive a daily email from your child’s teacher(s) at the address this email came to. Please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher if you prefer the email be sent to a different email address.
  • If your child is in grades 5-12, please verify that he/she can log into Schoology. 

When and how will my child begin to receive remote learning assignments?

This week, MCS learners will engage in Remote Learning Experience Orientation assignments on Thursday and Friday. Assignments will be emailed or posted to Schoology the evening prior (Wednesday) to allow families time to plan (for example, if they are taking children to a caregiver). 

 

As a result, MCS learners should be able to access their first assignment by this Wednesday, April 1 at 8pm. For students in PK-4, this assignment will be emailed to their parent/guardian. For students in grades 5-12, the assignment will be posted to Schoology. 

Note: If your child receives core academic instruction in a specialized classroom from an intervention specialist, the intervention specialist will contact you directly to develop individual plans for lesson delivery. Additionally, intervention specialists have been and will continue to contact families to discuss plans for supporting content area instruction. 

What are Remote Learning Experience Orientation assignments?

Remote Learning Experience Orientation assignments will engage students in content related to digital safety and etiquette while also reviewing key content and allowing time to practice new technologies. They are designed to test our systems and allow time to troubleshoot if students have trouble accessing them.

 

What should my child be doing between now and Thursday?

The MCS Learning Momentum site provides many quality educational resources curated by Mason educators. We encourage our students to explore these resources to maintain their learning momentum as we transition to a Remote Learning Experience. The site also includes a calendar of many live virtual events that your family may wish to explore! And, of course, spending time reading, writing and being active is always a good idea!

How can we support our commUNITY?
#CometCarryout: This is a very crucial time for our local businesses, especially those in hospitality. Consider supporting local businesses on this list. 

Participate in the Chamber’s MADE to Eat Takeout Blitz and see how many local restaurants you can support. In addition, donate to Joshua’s Place and choose “Comet Carryout” and you can bless a family in need with a meal from one of our local businesses.

Make Homemade Face Masks: Warren County is asking crafty citizens to consider making homemade fabric face masks for a commUNITY-wide effort to stock our hospitals, long-term care facilities and first responders with this alternative face protection. We’ve already seen several Comets getting in on the #CraftersAgainstCOVID19 action, and would love to see your pictures!


3/20/2020 Update


We are excited to share a new MCS Covid-19 mcshub specifically dedicated to Mason City Schools’ COVID-19 response, resources, and updates. During Spring Break, we will not be providing daily communication, so feel encouraged to explore this site if you are missing our regular connections. 

Watch this video of Superintendent Jonathan Cooper sharing how the Cooper Family will be trying to unplug over Spring Break. 
Cooper Family 2

As of yesterday at 3:30 pm, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mason City Schools, and 119 confirmed cases in Ohio. Below are responses to common questions from our families and community. 

What should families be expecting after Spring Break (3.23.20-3.27.20) is over?
Here’s what our Remote Learning Plan looks like over the next few weeks.

March 23-27 - Spring Break. No school is expected. You may use resources from the MCS Learning Momentum site to add extended learning opportunities for your children.

March 30 - April 3 - Teachers continue planning and begin testing Remote Learning Experiences. Beginning Thursday, April 2nd, students will access remote learning tools by engaging with ungraded lessons that review or enrich previously taught content. This will help ensure everything is running smoothly before fully implementing new lessons.

April 6 and beyond - Based on information from state leaders and public health experts, we believe Ohio’s emergency order to close schools may be extended beyond April 5. During this time, teachers and students will engage in new learning using our Remote Learning Experience model, with families offering support at home. This new learning is assessed and graded.

How can I help my child remain calm while stuck at home?
Try to keep a consistent schedule by designating work and break times throughout the day. Check out www.GoNoodle.com for elementary age students (a variety of short videos to calm and energize). Middle and high school students can access online resources that include deep breathing and guided relaxation exercises, mindfulness and meditation exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation exercises.

Listen to relaxing music and access MCS Mindful Music at: citysilence.org/learn, Password: mindfulmason

Have we heard any more about AP testing?

The College Board’s AP Program is finalizing streamlined AP Exam options that would allow students to test at home, depending on the situation in May. They are working to give every AP student the opportunity to claim the college credit they’ve earned. The AP Program will communicate the details of these additional solutions to educators and students by March 20. View more information about AP from the College Board.

I wanted to vote at the polls on March 17th. What should I do now?

All votes cast so far will be counted. You may still vote absentee. If you haven’t yet voted, request an absentee ballot, and mail it to 520 Justice Dr., Lebanon, OH 45036. 

How can we support our community?

  • Donate blood: Help save lives by giving blood. We are in the midst of a national blood shortage brought on by the outbreak of COVID19.  Hoxworth Blood Center needs all eligible blood donors to schedule a donation at your earliest convenience.  As a reminder, blood donation is a safe, sterile process and there is no risk of contracting the virus by donating blood.
  • Families in Need: If you would like to help support families in need, consider donating to Joshua’s Place or to Comet Cupboard. Mason parents can financially contribute at www.spsezpay.com/Mason/login.aspx. Look under Activities for Comet Cupboard ME/MI. If you do not have an EZPay account, you can mail contributions to Mason City Schools – Comet Cupboard, 211 N. East Street, Mason, Ohio 45040.


 3/19/2020 Update 

Happy First Day of Spring! 

Watch this encouraging video message from Superintendent Jonathan Cooper as he shares what our new COVID-19 reality looks like for the Cooper Family, and how we can all stay connected and support each other during this time. Cooper Family

As of yesterday at 2pm, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mason City Schools, and 88 confirmed cases in Ohio. Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 

Are students and staff working next week during the previously scheduled spring break?
Mason City Schools will continue with our scheduled spring break from Monday, March 23, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020. All buildings, including the Central Office, will be closed to staff and the public. Families and students may continue to use the Learning Momentum site to maintain learning momentum as we begin the transition to a more formal Remote Learning Experience. Here is the Ohio Department of Health’s recommendations and guidance for Spring Break and Student Travel. 

I borrowed a Chromebook from the district. How do I register it?
If you picked up a Chromebook from the district recently due to the COVID-19 event and have not yet registered your device, please fill out this form. This helps us with our inventory, and to support you if you have technology issues in the future.

My child wants to be with friends. Should we have play dates?
Public health officials are urging parents to avoid having anyone from outside the family in their own home. And although the government's recommendation allows for gatherings of fewer than 10 people, it's simply not a viable option for most children to conform to the CDC’s six-foot rule for social distancing. Consider other ways to connect by having virtual playdates. 

Do try to have your children go outside every day. They need to avoid getting too close to other people, but that doesn’t mean families can’t visit parks or take a walk in the neighborhood. Avoid playground equipment since the virus can remain on surfaces for many hours, but kicking around a ball or playing with their own toys outside is fine. 

My high school student is very concerned about potentially missing Prom or graduation. Will we try to come up with something creative?
Yes. We recognize how important these milestones are for our Mason High School students. While we don’t yet have the answers for how these events will take place, we are committed to doing our best to come up with creative solutions.

How can we support our community?
#CometCarryOut: This is a very crucial time for our local businesses, especially those in hospitality. Consider supporting our local businesses on this list.  
Participate in the Chamber’s MADE to Eat Takeout Blitz and see how many local restaurants you can support.

Families in Need: If you are able to support families in need, consider donating to Joshua’s Place or to the Comet Cupboard. Mason parents can financially contribute at www.spsezpay.com/Mason/login.aspx. Look under Activities for Comet Cupboard ME/MI. If you do not have an EZPay account, you can mail contributions to Mason City Schools – Comet Cupboard, 211 N. East Street, Mason, Ohio 45040.

3/18/2020 Update

Today, our child nutrition department and transportation department are delivering food to families in need. Our Learning Experience Team is continuing to add resources to the Learning Momentum Site, and teachers are learning and preparing for the next phase of our Remote Learning Plan. As of yesterday at 2pm, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mason City Schools, and 67 confirmed cases in Ohio. Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 

What happens if I wasn’t able to pick up a device for my child?
If your child still doesn’t have access to a device, we will have one more opportunity to pick up today at Mason Intermediate School from 1-2pm and 5-6pm. We are running low on devices, so please only pick up a Chromebook if your family doesn’t have access to a computer in your home. Please remember, all of our resources are cloud-based and can be accessed from a personally owned device.

My child left things in their locker/at school? Can I get them?
Not today. We are working on a plan that is safe and in alignment with state public health officials’ orders. 

Why are the school’s outdoor facilities now closed to the public?
We know how important it is for our kids to be outside. However, we had large groups of students congregating on the football and soccer fields, and not practicing recommended social distancing. Consequently, we have now closed Mason City Schools buildings and outdoor facilities to the public in alignment with state public health officials’ orders. 


What about registration for new students this school year, or next year’s kindergartners?
We are developing an online solution for those who have not yet participated in kindergarten registration. In addition, if you have neighbors who just moved into Mason, let them know that while we are not able to register at this time, we will have a plan in the coming weeks.


What about students receiving home instruction?
Mason has students who receive home instruction for various reasons. During this COVID-19 event, they will receive their instruction in the same remote learning environment as their classmates in order to protect their health and the health of others.


How can we support our community?

  • Restaurants: We have so many wonderful local restaurants and watering holes who are being impacted by the COVID-19 emergency order. Show them some love by considering take-out for your family, and buying gift cards. Let's help keep our businesses thriving! Visit this MADE Chamber Facebook page especially created to promote local establishments who have shifted their business model for take-out.
  • Senior Living Homes: Our neighbors living in senior citizen centers are now not allowed to have any visitors as part of the COVID-19 emergency order. We would love for some of our students and families to consider making encouraging signs and cards for these important members of our community. Here is an example!

We love

 3/17/2020 Update

Thank you so much for your grace and support as we all work through our new COVID-19 reality! As of yesterday at 2pm, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mason City Schools, and 50 confirmed cases in Ohio. Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 

What happens if I wasn’t able to pick up a device for my child?
If your child still doesn’t have access to a device, you may borrow a Chromebook from the district. Pick up a Chromebook at any of our schools from 4:00pm-6:00pm today. 

How are special education students’ needs being considered?
Individual intervention specialists are reaching out to our families to share opportunities for learning, and services to the greatest extent possible in this remote learning environment. We are also creating a bank of intervention resources on the MCS Learning Momentum site.

Will graduation be impacted?
We know what an important rite of passage this is for our seniors, and we empathize with our Class of 2020 students (who were born during 9/11) and their families as they navigate these uncertain times. 
Here is the guidance we have received from the Ohio Department of Education. 

"The Ohio Department of Education has shared that Ensuring that the Class of 2020 is on track to graduate is an important priority. Schools should take this opportunity to review the status of each senior to determine the extent to which the student has met graduation requirements for the Class of 2020. There is significant flexibility in the graduation requirements for the Class of 2020. It is important that schools understand the needs of each of their students and have, to the extent possible, a plan to help each student complete these requirements during the remainder of the school year, both during the closure period (as practicable) and at such time as school may resume. Should the current situation change, the Department of Education will provide additional information. Our commitment is to provide reasonable flexibility in the interest of doing what is right for students."

If you have specific questions about your student, please reach out to your child's counselor. 

What about AP testing?
The College Board is considering changing the AP exam schedule. As we learn more we will share what we know.


Is there a time to pick up my child’s medication if I need it?

If you need to pick up your children’s medication from school, please email your school nurse as soon as possible. All medication needs to be picked up by noon Friday, March 20, 2020.

What’s happening with the election?
The March 17 election was called off late Monday night due to the health emergency posed by the coronavirus. All votes cast so far will be counted. You may now vote absentee. Request an absentee ballot, and mail it to 520 Justice Dr., Lebanon, OH 45036. 


How can parents and the community support each other during this time?

  • Health. Take care of yourself! Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Child careChild care and coverage for working parents will be a challenge. If you are able, offer to watch other people’s children (while practicing good social distancing).