OPINION

Superintendent's Corner: Back to school again in a most unusual year

Joe Clark
Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Joe Clark

School has started! I hope everyone had a great summer creating wonderful memories with your families.

The Nordonia schools are committed to giving your children the best education possible. Every day, nearly 3,600 kids walk through our doors or log on at home. We are excited they are here and pledge to provide great instruction, to treat the kids as our own, and to maintain excellent communication with families.

I generally encourage parents to become involved with the schools as much as possible by being active with PTA and attending school events such as open house, parent-teacher conferences, athletic contests, concerts, and many other activities the schools offer. Of course, this year is different because of COVID-19. The opportunities may be limited, but please take advantage of the few opportunities that present themselves.

The class of 2033 is in kindergarten this year. The year 2033 seems like a lifetime away, but it will be here in the blink of an eye. Parents should take advantage of every opportunity the schools provide to spend time with their kids, because before you know it they will be grown and gone.

Summer Projects: The summer of 2020 was unlike any other in terms of preparing for the upcoming school year. In a normal year we would be looking for ways to make our learning spaces more collaborative and flexible, but due to COVID-19, we have had to go for a more clinical educational environment.

With that in mind, our focus was more on accessibility and safety, cleaning, reinventing our spaces, and developing sustainable sanitizing programs to help keep our staff and students safe.

In terms of bigger projects, we invested more than $500,000 in our roofs, and $250,000 in asphalt and concrete repairs. We invested more $200,000 in replacing and repairing internal components of many faulty boiler and rooftop air conditioning units, and thoroughly cleaned our vents and replaced all air filters. This was all made possible by your support of the operating levy in 2019.

For inside our buildings and classrooms, many rooms and common areas received fresh paint and resurfaced floors. We did an audit of all of our classroom and staff furniture, and either stored or modified it to meet Ohio Responsible Restart standards. This included investing in plexiglass partitions for cafeteria tables and other learning surfaces, and for our higher-traffic areas of the building.

We have also purchased literally thousands of masks and face shields, gloves, soaps and sanitizers, and other PPE and cleaning materials for our staff. With so much uncertainty facing the school year to come, we feel we have put our best foot forward and are ready to serve the Nordonia community.

Board Open Forum: The Nordonia Hills City Schools Board of Education will host a Special Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This will most likely be a virtual meeting, but I will confirm as we get closer.

The evening will feature State of the Schools presentations by me and the building principals, with time allotted for the public to ask questions and give ideas to the board and administration. We hope to see you there or online, as the circumstances warrant.

SaferOH Tip Line: The Nordonia Schools use a free safety resource available to Ohio Schools that could prevent and alert local law enforcement to a school safety crisis. This resource – an anonymous tip line – is available free of charge to every school district and public and private school in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Public Safety provide the SaferOH tip line that accepts both calls and texts 24 hours a day. This tip line allows students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety — whether that involves a threatened mass incident or harm to a single student.

Every tip can remain anonymous. School safety analysts may ask for additional information, but the caller can remain secret or leave his or her contact information for later follow-up.

Calls or texts to 844-SaferOH (844-723-3764) are answered by analysts in the Ohio Homeland Security’s Threat Assessment and Prevention (TAP) Unit.  When action is needed, the TAP Unit immediately forwards information to local school officials, local law enforcement agencies and others, if necessary.

TAP Unit analysts always follow up quickly with the affected school and law enforcement agencies to make sure that the incident is investigated, action is taken and the outcome is tracked. 

The assurance that their calls or texts cannot be traced and that serious, proper action will be taken to end the threat is helping to persuade young people to take a stand against school violence. If you hear of any possible threats to our schools, please dial 844-723-3764.

As always, thanks for supporting the Nordonia Schools, have a great month, and remember to follow me on Twitter @DrJoeClark