Weekly Family Update

Weekly Family Update
Posted on 03/05/2021

3/5/2021 Update

This week we witnessed tragic events in neighboring communities, and in our own hometown. While it is impossible to understand why things like this happen, we are grateful for our mental wellness team and the support they provide to children and their families. If you or your child ever need help, please contact your child’s school counselor or mental wellness coordinator

Watch this video of Superintendent Jonathan Cooper as he shares his reflections on this week. 

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 4 students and 0 staff members with NEW positive cases of COVID-19. At the end of the week of March 1-5, 2021, we had a total of 0 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among staff, 7 confirmed, first-hand positive cases of COVID-19 among students, 1 staff quarantine, and 35 student quarantines. Click here to view the data. 

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

How do I connect my child for mental wellness support?
Our mental wellness department is a multidisciplinary team ready to support the needs of all students whether students are learning in person or learning from home.  Our team works to promote student, staff, and community wellness through resource and program development as well as continuing to build community wellness partnerships.  Supports and services provided by our counselors, mental wellness coordinators, and clinical team are available to all Mason City Schools students.  For more information, contact your child's school counselor or mental wellness coordinator.

  • If your child is at immediate risk for harm to self or others call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room.
    • Children's Hospital Liberty Campus (closest emergency room specializing in those 18 and younger) 7777 Yankee Road, Liberty Township, OH 45044, P: 513-803-9307
       
  • If your child is not at immediate risk, however you are unsure how to proceed contact:
    • Children's Hospital Psychiatric Intake Response Center at 513-636-4124
    • Warren County Crisis Hotline at 1-877-695-6333
       
  • If you are looking for non-emergency resources:
    • Your child's School Guidance Counselor
    • Cincinnati Children's Psychiatric Intake Response Center 513-636-4124
    • Lindner Center of Hope 513-536-4673
    • Talbert House 513-932-4337
    • Beech Acres Parenting Center 513-231-6630
       
  • If you are looking for student wellness opportunities and support:

I’ve heard that Governor DeWine gave the go-ahead for Proms, Graduations and other events that were cancelled last year, but still noted that they needed to follow safety protocols. What is Mason planning? 

We are glad to see that the state is also recognizing how important these milestones are for our students, and that we can do so safely. We are committed to creating memorable #MasonMoments for our students, and particularly for our seniors. On April 30th, we are excited to host a formal Prom Dinner at the Manor House for the Class of 2021 - a class who did not get a junior Prom last year and who has demonstrated incredible resilience, patience, and leadership throughout the pandemic. Using student and family feedback, we continue to plan a memorable graduation that prioritizes students’ most fervent wishes - an opportunity to experience beloved graduation traditions. We look forward to hosting a modified Parade of Graduates this year, a senior picnic and bike ride, and have reserved our date at the Cintas Center for the commencement ceremony. We will continue to work with our local public health partners every step of the way to ensure that all of our end-of-the-year celebrations and rites of passage are safe.

If we are traveling over Spring Break, do we need to quarantine when we return?
We recommend that families continue to follow the Ohio Department of Health guidelines. Currently, ODH advises that Ohioans traveling to states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher should self-quarantine. Click here to view the list of affected states. Additionally, please follow CDC recommendations if you are traveling internationally. 


How can we support our commUNITY?
Register to Be the Match: A couple of months ago, Comet Dad Rajesh Kumar was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a very rare disease in adults. He needs a bone marrow transplant to cure his disease. The family has been looking for a match but still has not found one. We need as many people as possible to register so that he may be able to find a match. Finding a match is very rare. South Asians (Indians) are most likely to be a better match, but even if you are not a match for Rajesh, you might be a potential match for someone else and save their life. 

2/26/21 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.