Weekly Family Update

Weekly Family Update
Posted on 02/12/2021

2/26/2021 Update

As we end Black History Month, we are renewed by our students’ and staff’s efforts to lift up the voices and accomplishments of Black Americans. A special note of thanks to Mason High School’s Black Student Union for their dynamic and important programming throughout the month, Mason Middle School staff who delivered impactful Black History Month lessons to all students, Mason Intermediate staff and students who created and participated in a virtual Black History Bowl this year to much success, an incredible inaugural Black History Month float parade by Mason Elementary staff and students, and an intentional focus to read stories by Black authors and about Black figures at the Mason Early Childhood Center. 

Watch this video of Mason Intermediate School students and staff reciting National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb as part of this year’s Black History Bowl. 
 

Each month, we share the cumulative totals of COVID+ cases, and the numbers of quarantines. At the end of February, 97.02% of student positive cases were from community exposure, and 2.98% were from in-school or school-sponsored activity exposure. 45% of student quarantines were from in-school or school sponsored activity close contacts, and 41% were from household or community close contacts. 

 


 

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 14 students and 1 staff member with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of February 22-25, 2021, we had a total of 3 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 17 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 3 staff quarantines, and 40 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 
 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 
 

Why do you believe that Mason students and staff will still need to wear face masks next year? 

We are following the best known scientific guidance at this time. The CDC explains "Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19." Next year, we will continue to follow local public health face mask guidelines. If those would change, we would adjust as well. 
 

I’ve heard that some schools are going to school over the summer? Will Mason have to do that?

We are very glad that while school this year has not been exactly “normal,” we have not seen the type of dramatic learning losses from online or in-person learners that we are hearing about around the country. Consequently, we will not extend our school year. The last day of school remains May 27, 2021. We will begin the 2021-2022 school year with a staggered start once again on August 12 and August 13, 2021. All students will come to school on August 16, 2021. 
 

What does the district think about state testing this year?
The things that make Mason Schools special and strong do not come from Columbus or Washington D.C. In fact, since 2015 we have joined other school districts from around the state in releasing a Quality Profile which helps characterize the overall educational value of public education beyond standardized testing. View our 2020 Quality Profile, which was mailed to residents this month.

 

It is unfortunate that in a time when school districts around the state and nation are struggling to figure out how to open, elected officials continue to prioritize standardized tests that are often used to rank and sort schools, but don't deliver real-time opportunities to intervene with students. While we appreciate accountability and the opportunity to see data that allow us, for instance, to examine how Mason subgroups perform vs their state counterparts, we question if this year’s data will be as useful if wide swatches of families opt out, or if schools who are not offering in-person learning are unable to administer tests. 

 

I heard that kindergarten pre-registration has begun. How soon do I need to register my incoming kindergartner? 

We are so excited to welcome the Class of 2034 this fall! If you have an incoming kindergarten student, or know someone who will need to register, complete our Registration Interest Form.  Registration packets and additional information are available on our Kindergarten Registration Page. Mark your calendars for packet drop off on March 17th or March 23rd from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.
 

How can we support our commUNITY?
Donate to LLS in support of Team Maya the Magnificent: Mason High School senior Rilee Malloy is a candidate for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year campaign. Rilee aims to raise $50,000 by April 9th in honor of her best friend, fellow MHS Class of 2021 classmate Maya Collins who fought cancer for 6½ years, relapsed twice, endured extreme doses of chemo, and 3 bone marrow transplants. Maya succumbed to the effects of her treatments on October 3, 2017 after receiving her 3rd bone marrow transplant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donate today to fund important life-saving research in honor of Maya and Rilee! 

 

In case you missed it, here’s some recent news coverage of our staff, students and schools.

2/19/2021 Update

We are very grateful that 1157 Mason City Schools employees received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today. Many thanks to our partner, Premier Health, and to Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health for prioritizing K-12 school employees for the vaccine. 

Watch this video of Superintendent Jonathan Cooper sharing how the vaccinations went, and the impact this has on our planning for next school year. 
 

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 15 students and 2 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of February 14-19, 2021, we had a total of 2 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 25 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 1 staff quarantine, and 73 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 

When will MCS employees receive their second dose of the vaccine? 

MCS employees will receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday, March 11th. This will be an asynchronous remote day of learning for in-person and online students. All students will stay home. You will receive information from your child’s teachers about learning responsibilities for March 11th. Remember, March 12th is a Professional Day of Learning for staff, and students will not report to school on that Friday.
 

I know you’ve been planning for next school year. What are the plans for the in-person learning environment and the online learning environment?

MCS staff, students, and families have learned a lot this year. As we look ahead to the 2021-2022 school year, we are excited to welcome students and families back to our buildings for in-person learning. Our experiences this year have shown us that school is a safe place to be, and we feel even more optimistic as staff receive their vaccines. Next year, we will continue to require face masks, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, and employ other safety practices from this school year such as frequent disinfecting, and access and reminders to wash hands. 

MCS will also offer an online learning option during the 2021-2022 school year for families and students whose personal context requires an online learning environment. Our preliminary surveys indicate that a much smaller percentage of our families will need an online option next year. Based on the feedback we have received this year from our families and staff and anticipated lower online student enrollment, we will have changes to our online option next year. Online courses will be taught by MCS teachers using MCS curriculum. Students in the online learning option will be required to log in for synchronous online classes at set times during each regular school day during normal school hours. In order to participate in the online learning program, students will need to meet and maintain certain criteria. Course offerings will be more limited than our in-person offerings and will be based on student enrollment and suitability for an online environment. We will not be able to identify which courses (secondary) or teachers (elementary) will or will not be available until after students and families make requests. The secondary course selection process begins March 5th for MHS and March 8th for MMS, and the elementary preferencing process begins April 6th. Additional information about the online option will be provided to families at that time.

I love my teacher! How can I help recognize them?
The Warren County Area Progress Council is seeking nominations for the 2021 Project Excellence Award. The APC seeks to recognize and honor excellent teachers within the public schools in Warren County. They need your assistance in identifying exceptional educators who demonstrate excellence in instruction or innovative teachers who have pioneered a teaching method. Click here for the nomination form. 

 

How can we support our commUNITY?
Comet Cupboard: On Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st Girl Scout Troop 44405 is hosting Drive Thru Cookie Booths and a Canned Good Food Donation at Mason Intermediate and Mason High School from 11AM-6PM to benefit the Comet Cupboard to help #ShineLikeSable and #LoveLikeJJ. Drop off your canned food donation and buy a few boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.  Troop 44405 will be donating some of their cookie money to the Comet Cupboard. 

2/12/2021 Update

We are so excited that Mason City Schools employees who signed up for the vaccine will get their first dose on Tuesday! Remember, students do not have school on February 15 (Presidents Day) or February 16 (MCS Employee Vaccination Day.) 

Watch this video of Superintendent Jonathan Cooper sharing the planning behind Vaccine Day.  

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 17 students and 2 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of February 8-12, 2021, we had a total of 4 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 28 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 3 staff quarantines, and 90 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 

Do you know when MCS employees will receive their second dose of the vaccine? 

MCS employees will receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, March 9th.

 

Will students’ experience on the 2nd Vaccine Day be the same as February 16th?

February 16th is like a snow day for students in that in-person and online learners do not report to learn. This is important for our staff because we simply cannot anticipate all the variables of the day. Because we will have been through this once, we now intend to have the second vaccination day be a day of asynchronous Remote Learning for in-person and online learners. More details will be shared as we get closer to the March 9th date.

We will also have an asynchronous day of learning on March 10th, the day following the second vaccination day to strategically build in time for staff who may experience mild side effects. We understand from our public health partners who have already vaccinated many of their front line workers with both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that there are some mild side effects associated with a small percentage of their staff, mostly with the second dose. 

We’ve had fewer student days this year with the staggered start, RLE Wednesdays, remote days, vaccine days, etc. Are students in jeopardy of having to go to school longer?
No. Thankfully, we are on track to finish the year on schedule with adequate learning hours that will meet the state requirements. 

How has the pandemic impacted the district’s finances?
The pandemic impacted all aspects of the district’s operations: a new online virtual school option, increased cleaning supplies and PPE, increased staffing costs for subs and contact tracing, and revenue losses. As the state dealt with the crisis, they made choices to cut public education - cutting over $3 million in funding to Mason City Schools over the next two years. Despite a total negative financial impact of over $4.5 million from COVID-19, Mason City Schools remains committed to making the 2020 operating levy last at least five years. 

How can we support our commUNITY?
Spread Some Love: Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and we just can’t say enough about what an impact it makes when members of our commUNITY show up for each other! This week, Amy Droege and Mary Beth Koening organized with our wonderful and generous community partners a week-long "Loving on Our Bus Drivers" event. Our drivers were treated to bagels, sweets, 107 scoops of chicken salad!, and a gift card raffle. Do you know someone who could use some extra care and appreciation? Take a minute to have your family send them a note, and let them know why they matter!

To all of our Comet friends and family celebrating Lunar New Year, we wish you a happy new year and lots of red envelopes!

2/5/2021 Update

Black History Month is an important month-long opportunity for us to honor and celebrate Black people’s achievements and leadership. Yet, Black history doesn’t end after February 28th. The American story is the story of Black Americans. It is a story of Black authors, artists and inventors. It is a story of liberation movements, civic engagement and activism. It is a story of resilience and joy. It is a story of Black families. It is a story that is happening now. This year’s Black History Month theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States. We invite our Black Comet Families to Share Your Family’s Story, and we will publish your stories throughout the month. 
 


 

Recently MHS senior Jiahao Guo received the UC Health/UC College of Medicine 2021 MLK Humanitarian Award for founding a nonprofit organization to provide masks and other personal protective equipment for some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors, including community organizations, nonprofits and homeless individuals. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate Dr. King’s spirit and legacy through their dedication and contributions to our community. Watch this video about Jiahao’s efforts. 

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 37 students and 6 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of February 1-5, 2021, we had a total of 12 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 48 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 12 staff quarantines, and 117 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 
 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 
 

Do you know when MCS employees will receive their second dose of the vaccine? 

We have not yet been given the date for the administration of Mason City Schools employees’ second dose. We believe we will have that information next week. Across the country, millions of people have now been vaccinated for COVID-19. Some people have reported feeling more side effects after the second dose. Medical experts assure us this is normal, and actually means the vaccine is working. Because of this, we have asked our partners if Mason employees can receive their second dose on a Friday. If that is not possible, we will have asynchronous remote learning for all learners for up to two days. 
 

While it looks like the vaccine supply chain has improved, do you have a contingency plan in case we don’t have our vaccines on Tuesday, February 16th? 

We have 1158 employees (almost 90% of staff) who signed up to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as part of Ohio’s Phase 1B. We have been working very closely with our partner Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center, and are looking forward to having our staff who chose to get vaccinated receive their first dose on February 16th. If for some reason our vaccines are not available on February 16th, we will send families and staff a call, text, and post on our website and social media sites with directions for February 16th and the rescheduled vaccine day. 
 

Are you taking precautions to ensure that no vaccines go to waste?
We are so grateful that Ohio prioritized K-12 school employees in the vaccine rollout. We understand how precious these shots are, and have developed a plan to ensure that no vaccine goes to waste. 

 

What Black History Month activities or events will my child or family be able to participate in this month?

Our schools are honoring Black History Month with these virtual and in-person events, activities and lessons throughout February. In preparation for the Friday, February 12th Personal Learning Day, consider registering for this engaging virtual event from the National Museum of African American History & Culture: “Joyful Fridays: Black Music & Imagination”. A list of supplies will be sent to all registered guests, and registered guests will receive Zoom information, a list of supplies, and a list of recommended books, online resources and links to related Learning Lab collections on the Monday before the program.

 

How can we support our commUNITY?
Go Red for Women: Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year? Today is National Wear Red Day - a campaign from the American Heart Association to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and save lives. Consider donating to protect the women you love from heart disease and stroke.

 

This week was National School Counseling Week. Our school counselors are always "All In" for our Comets, and during a pandemic it seems even more important that we recognize all the ways they serve our kids. Please take a moment to thank your school counselor for their hard work and dedication to the Comet CommUNITY! 


1/29/2021 Update

Mason City Schools staff will have the opportunity to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, February 16th. All Mason City Schools In-Person learners and Online learners will have the day off - think of it as a Snow Day after the long President's Day Weekend.

We are so grateful for our remarkable employees. They have worked tirelessly since August to honor families’ choices to have their children learn in school, or virtually. We appreciate that the state has recognized how critical school employees are, and we are hopeful that vaccines will help more of Ohio's children have the options that our Comets have had.

Watch this video of Superintendent Jonathan Cooper sharing information about the MCS staff vaccine roll out, and reminders that in-person and online families should complete this COVID Reporting Form if their child is positive for COVID-19, or needs to quarantine after being in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
 

Each month, we share the cumulative totals of COVID+ cases, and the numbers of quarantines. At the end of January, 96.98% of student positive cases were from community exposure, and 3.02% were from in-school or school-sponsored activity exposure. 47.7% of student quarantines were from in-school or school sponsored activity close contacts, and 38.8% were from household or community close contacts. 

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 34 students and 9 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of January 25-29, 2021, we had a total of 16 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 44 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 18 staff quarantines, and 124 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 

How many MCS staff members signed up for the vaccine? 
Mason City Schools notified the state that over 1100 employees (over 80% of staff) would like to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as part of Ohio’s Phase 1B. We developed a plan with Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center, and are looking forward to having our staff who chose to get vaccinated receive their first dose on February 16th. 

Are you able to share how many kids are being spared from quarantine thanks to new guidelines about classroom exposure? 

Last semester, each time a student tested positive for COVID-19, it typically resulted in about 8-15 peers needing to quarantine. During 1st semester, 57.4% of quarantines were from in-school close contact. This month, of our 586 quarantines for January, only 3.75% were from in-school close contact. The new guidelines have kept many more healthy students in school.
 

Do we have information about how many staff positive cases are caused by in-school exposure?

Since August, we have had 131 staff members test positive for COVID-19. We have confirmed that 5 of our staff cases were from in-school exposure.   
 

When I look at the weekly COVID update, I’m confused by the discrepancy in new positive cases vs total positive cases. Why is there often a difference?

The total student/staff COVID positive cases are typically higher than the weekly new cases because the totals are showing where we are at the end of the week. Since isolation is for at least 10 days, the weekly case totals often include cases that were “new” positive cases the week before.
 

How do I report concerns about bullying or acts of bias?

An important tool for reporting incidents of bullying or acts of bias is our Safe Schools Tipline. If you submit a tip via the web, you can ensure that our administrative team understands that you have classified the tip as “Bullying” or an “Act of Bias.” You are able to submit tips anonymously and can enter the access code you receive after submitting a tip to see our team’s response. If you or your child are the victim of bullying or an act of bias, we encourage you to share your identity in the tip so that we can offer your family support and additional follow up. 

 

How can we support our commUNITY?
Warren County Imagination LibraryDo you know a family with a child aged 0-5? Their child qualifies to receive a FREE book each month, no matter the family’s income, through a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This county-wide effort has the goal that Every Child Reads Every Day! The books are selected each year by the Blue Ribbon Book Selection Committee, a panel of early childhood literacy experts, to ensure children are receiving high quality, age appropriate books. Warren County families simply register here through the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library.

 

January is School Board Appreciation Month. We are very fortunate that over many years the Mason City Schools Board of Education's vision and leadership has defined #MasonQuality: high-quality staff, high-quality facilities, high-quality opportunities for kids. During this pandemic, our board remained committed to ensuring that each and every learner is physically and emotionally safe, supported and empowered. At this week’s school board meeting, teacher Kristen Lazuta, parent Casey Moran, online 3rd grader Joshika Jeyaprakash and in-person senior Zach Langbein each shared their gratitude for our School Board members: Charles Galvin, Connie Yingling, Desiree Batsche, Matt Steele and Kevin Wise. Check out this video of what they shared. 
 

1/22/2021 Update

We have revamped the process for families to report if their child has tested positive for COVID-19, or to share if their child needs to quarantine after being a close contact for longer than 15 minutes with someone who has tested positive from their household or in the community.

In-Person and Online families will now complete this COVID Reporting Form, and their information will be shared with school staff, including school nurses and attendance personnel. The new COVID Support Specialist will follow up with families to confirm isolation or quarantine dates based on the Warren County Isolation & Quarantine Calculator. Please note: the calculator uses 14 days for quarantine calculations. We follow ODH guidelines and also accept 10 days (our default) or 7 days with proof of a negative test on Day 5, 6, or 7.

Watch this video to review how to complete the form. 

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 27 students and 10 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of January 18-22, 2021, we had 13 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 34 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 9 staff quarantines, and 119 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 
 

Any updates on vaccinations for MCS staff members? 

Mason City Schools has notified the state that 80% of our staff would like to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as part of Ohio’s Phase 1B. We have developed a plan with Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center, and as soon as we are notified that the county has vaccines available for our MCS staff, our district will be ready. To date, the state’s vaccine roll-out has been slower than was originally announced. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer,  “Ohio isn't expected to see a ramp-up in vaccine doses until March when Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine could be approved for widespread use. Until then, Ohio will continue to roll out vaccines to the 2.2 million Ohioans in group 1B, which includes adults over 65, those with severe medical disorders that make them vulnerable and K-12 teachers and staff.”
 

Will MECC accept applications for typically developing preschool-age children for next school year? 

In response to the pandemic and revised operating guidelines for preschool programs, our MECC preschool adjusted and adapted by serving students with disabilities first, then quickly adapting to bring back peer learners in October. In preparation for the 21-22 school year, we are confident in our ability to serve and adapt our programming to meet all learners’ needs.  
 

Here is the application for typically developing learners. Applications need to be returned to the MECC preschool office no later than February 8, 2021 in order to be included in the lottery. Admittance to the preschool is not a “first come, first served” process. A lottery is conducted with applications received by February 8th for available openings for the 2021-2022 school year. Families will receive notification of the status of their application by US mail no later than March 19, 2021. In lieu of an Open House due to the Pandemic, enjoy this video taking you on a tour of our MECC 5 Star-Rated preschool program. 
 

Are free meals still available for all students?

All students, whether they are In-Person Comets or Online Comets, may continue to enjoy free breakfast and lunch. Learn which 5 components qualify as a reimbursable free meal under USDA guidelines. 

Online families may pick up meals behind Mason Elementary at the “red” concession building located at the car rider Pick Up/Drop Off lane. After turning into the MI/ME campus, turn right and follow the signs that read Student Pick-Up/Drop Off Before and After School.  Families pick up meal packs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM. Meal packs on Tuesday include 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches (fruits, vegetables, entrees) and 4 half-pint cartons of milk.  Meal packs on Thursday include 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches (fruits, vegetables, and entrees) and 6 half-pint cartons of milk. Online families no longer have to pre-order meals. 

How can we support our commUNITY?
Caring with CrochetTwo MHS Freshman, Srinidhi & Shriya, started an organization called Caring with Crochet that sells handmade crochet products to raise money for local causes. Right now, all profits are going to the DragonFly Foundation and Project Night Night. “Even though it's hard to go out into the world and help people during this COVID-19 outbreak, we believe we can make just as much of a difference staying indoors! We have taken utmost care in reflecting on the past 6 months (that's right, CWC has been open for 6 months already!) to build upon our mission. We aim to follow Dr. King's words this year ‘If [we] cannot do great things, [we] can do small things in a great way.’”

1/15/2021 Update
The Day Family expresses their sincere appreciation for your love and support this week. A celebration of JJ Day’s life will be held on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 11:30 AM at Crossroads Church Mason. Face masks are required, and seating will be socially distanced and limited. You are also invited to attend virtually through a livestream

Watch Superintendent Jonathan Cooper express gratitude to our community about how we come together during times of grief, and invite people to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and join Tuesday's CommUNITY Conversation on the National Day of Racial Healing.

Each week, we share the number of first-hand, confirmed positive staff and student cases of COVID-19, and the number of quarantines in Mason City Schools. This week we had 38 students and 4 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of January 11-15, 2021, we had 11 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 51 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 9 staff quarantines, and 172 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 


 

Below are common questions from our families and the public, and our responses. 
 

My child doesn’t quite seem themself, but I’m not sure if this is just normal considering all that is happening. When do we need to ask for help?