The January 11 Charter School Association of Willits board meeting was held in person and broadcast over Zoom, with some technical difficulties that made it difficult for the Zoom audience to hear much of what was was discussed.
Willits Elementary Charter School (WECS) and Willits Charter School (WCS) provided updates on COVID protocols regarding masking, quarantine and testing. WECS Director Charlene Bredder, PhD, said WECS will delay on-site parent permission (which was due to happen this week) due to the Omicron surge. Bredder said, “We’ll get back to it in February.”
Additionally, the school will continue to test students twice a week (with parental consent) and will require positive Covid cases to test negative before returning to campus. Students and staff are required to wear masks at all times on campus. Bredder said 15% of the student population is vaccinated at WECS.
With the new variant, temperature is an indicator of infection, so both charter schools checked students’ temperatures before they came to campus.
WCS Director Jennifer Lockwood reported that WCS did not have a huge increase in Covid cases, but did see a large increase in the number of students in Modified Quarantine and Modified Independent Study. She also said the school has seen an increase in Covid cases among basketball players, who are allowed to remove their masks while playing. Lockwood reported that the women’s basketball team picked up their first victory of the year against Lucerne.
WCS did not have an outdoor masking requirement this year. Lockwood said: ‘We haven’t really had any issues with that, or seen a slight increase (in cases). It’s been pretty good all year, because we’re doing all these tests. I think if we weren’t doing the tests a few times a week, I wouldn’t really feel comfortable with them not having masks outside. But so far it’s working, so we’ll keep going and it’s good for them to have this break.
The council approved the addition of an optional driving school course to WCS which includes instruction on the wheel. The school will cover the costs for students in grades 11 and 12. Lockwood said the cost is about $550 per student and the school partners with Lake County’s Sweet Driving School. The school will bring cool cars for the students to drive. Lockwood said, “We thought it would be fun for students and a great way to help them progress into adulthood.” She explained that many students stop pursuing their driving license after the online driving course due to the prohibitive cost of driving lessons.
The new WCS building is expected to be completed this spring. Lockwood said: “It looks good and it gives the kids hope to see progress happening.”
The council discussed adding a transitional kindergarten and decided to consider the idea further before making a decision at the next council meeting on February 8.