NEW BLOOMFIELD — The New Bloomfield R-3 School District Board of Education met Thursday for its first school board meeting since school began.
So far, attendance has been high, school officials said.
Middle school and high school Principal Paul Cloudwright gave a report on the alternative school program on behalf of alternative school educator Brett Craighead.
“The bottom line is we have an alt-school program that works,” Cloudwright said. “We get kids that need help or are in at-risk situations, and we get them across that graduation finish line.”
Students can enter the program if their educational goals have been sidetracked for reasons such as as not earning enough credits at the traditional high school, returning to school after dropping out, extended absences, financial difficulties, parenthood, homelessness or other challenges.
The curriculum is computer-based and allows students to work at their own pace.
“Mr. Craighead — I’ll sing his praises — does a great job of getting them from point A to B all the way to Z,” Cloudwright said. “That’s not always easy.”
Last year, 13 students participated in the program. Many returned this year, and seven graduated. Since 2006, 54 students have graduated from alternative school and others have graduated traditional school after spending time in the program.
“Most likely, in a lot of those cases, there would have been dropouts,” Cloudwright said.
Some of the at-risk students this year have opted for virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cloudwright said.
The district does keep an eye on virtual students as well as in-person students to make sure academic goals are being met and no one falls behind.
Several New Bloomfield students have opted to take virtual classes through Launch, a Springfield Public Schools program. The board approved a one-time fee of $1,000 and an agreement with the Springfield district to help establish a relationship and communication with the district.
In other business Thursday, the board unanimously approved the Board Manual and a contract with an orientation and mobility specialist.
In a recent survey, the district examined what technology needs exist in New Bloomfield. Of the 279 who responded, 44.8 percent said that had at least one device for each child in the household.
More than 70 percent had access to fiber high-speed internet. Others reported access to cable modem, satellite provided, DSL and dial-up internet, as well as access to wireless internet through a cellphone.
Should the district move to distance learning, it has a supply of hotspots that can be distributed.
Using federal CARES Act funds, the district has invested in technology, purchasing iPads and Chromebooks.
So far, two cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the New Bloomfield district since the fall semester began. Wisdom said contact tracing has gone smoothly so far.
Currently, the district is informing students and staff of case counts. If a student has been exposed, families will hear from either the school district or the Callaway County Health Department.
The county Health Department reaches out and asks individuals to quarantine if they were within 6 feet of a known positive case for at least 15 minutes.
If the contact was farther away or exposed for a shorter period of time, there is no expectation of quarantine, but the district has been keeping parents updated by sending letters home with anyone who might have shared a class or a bus with a person who tested positive.
“The letter does say that your kid was in a class or on the bus with a positive case,” Wisdom said. “You would get a call from the Health Department or a school official if it was quarantine appropriate.”