CLARION - Logistical issues surrounding remote learning have been a problem for schools around the area during the COVID-19 pandemic and Clarion Area School District is no exception.
Clarion Area Superintendent Dr. Joseph Carrico revised the district's COVID response plan to alleviate some of the strain associated with remote learning at the Clarion Area School Board work session held Nov. 4.
The district's high school will see the ninth period eliminated while the remaining periods will be shortened by two minutes each. The ninth period at the Clarion Area High School was an activity period.
The move is an effort to give teachers an additional hour in the day for remote learning planning purposes. Moreover, it will give the custodial staff an opportunity to do additional cleaning of high traffic areas in the facility.
As it stands, the district's high school staff only gets three hours of virtual preparation every seven or eight days depending on the rotation of teachers and substitutes.
"We knew when we started this whole process we didn't aspire to be great at offering two competing systems of learning; virtual and in-person," Carrico said. "But I think (our district) has done a tremendous job at it. We put a lot of weight on our staff's shoulders around that process."
One reason Carrico believed the change was needed was he believes with the cold and influenza season upon the area there will likely be more students taking part in remote learning due to a variety of factors in regard to health and quarantining.
The district will not be altering the bus schedules with this change in the high school schedule. Students who aren't able to leave the high school at the end of the instructional day until the bus arrives at its normal time will be permitted to stay at the high school and use work stations which will be monitored by staff.
According to Carrico, Clarion Elementary School Principal Roger Walter is in the process of finding more time during school hours for the elementary teachers work on virtual learning material.
The district put the new schedule into effect Nov. 9.
Also during the work session, Clarion Wrestling Booster representative David Smail made an appeal to the board to consider reinstating the assistant junior high wrestling coach position due to the growth of the junior high program.
According to Smail, last season the junior high team had 24 wrestlers on the squad and the season before there were 22 junior high wrestlers on the roster.
"We do not have enough staff to meet the guidelines of developing a solid wrestling program," Smail said.
Under rules imposed by the school, Junior High Wrestling Head Coach Lee Weber is solely responsible for the wrestlers during practice and at tournaments.
"If they have 22 to 24 kids in the wrestling room, they would work on fundamentals and instruction for a certain period of time then they would move to the weight room or condition in the hallways in the winter and those kids wouldn't be able to be supervised by that one person the entire time," Smail said.
Smail also said when the junior high team attends tournaments where matches are held in different parts of a facility makes it a logistical nightmare for Weber. Smail said there are volunteers who help Weber when available.
Currently, Clarion Area is the host of a wrestling cooperative between Clarion, Clarion-Limestone, North Clarion and Keystone. The Clarion School Board is also expected to approve including the Union School District into the cooperative later this month.
The number of participants signed up for the varsity and junior high programs has waned this year with five wrestlers signed up for the varsity program from Clarion, C-L, North Clarion and Keystone while those four schools have eight wrestlers registered at the junior high level.
Carrico believes the numbers are low due to the resignation of former head coach Brian Luton in September and the school not having hired his replacement at this time.
Also at the work session, Carrico inquired if the school board wanted to approach the Clarion Stormwater Authority about the fees the district would owe for its impervious surfaces (asphalt parking areas). Carrico estimates the district will owe the Stormwater Authority between $18,000 and $20,000.