Bay Village Schools brings in experts to ‘Respond to COVID-19’ in virtual town hall event
About 130 Bay Village residents attended a virtual town hall – “Responding to COVID-19” – on Oct. 15, to learn how Bay Village Schools is responding to the virus since implementing its Safe Reopening Plan. The webinar event was hosted by Bay Village City School District, with expert panelists from Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH), MetroHealth, Recovery Resources and the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio (ESCNEO).
The virtual town hall was broken down into three sections: health symptoms and processes, mental health symptoms and school district-specific questions. Town hall guests submitted questions when they registered, or asked them through a live chat session during the webinar.
First up was the environmental public health team from CCBH, with Debbie Busdiecker, supervisor of the board of health’s prevention and wellness program, answering audience questions. Topics ranged from testing children for the virus (more tests are now being offered to those 2 years of age and up), to the difference between flu and COVID-19 symptoms (a key difference is the loss of taste and smell in COVID-19, but getting tested is the only real way to know since symptoms are similar), to explaining quarantine vs. isolation (quarantine separates those who may have been exposed to the virus, while people in isolation are ill, whether they’re showing symptoms or are asymptomatic).
Bay Village Schools’ own Dr. Holly Schafer, director of human resources, and Dr. Michele Moore, the district’s COVID-19 coordinator, rounded out the health symptoms and processes section, sharing information on the district’s reporting protocol, student daily health check and rings of exposure video. The duo shared that a new daily health check app would be rolled out in the near future, and answered parent Jennifer Andrews’ question that, yes, all students should submit a health check whether they are in eLearning (7%) or In-building (93%) mode.
Questions then moved to the mental health panelists, with Mary Wise, student wellness coordinator at ESCNEO sharing that the virus may be causing students to experience school- and social-related anxiety. Wise said Bay Village Schools has partnered with many organizations to ensure students have mental and emotional support, and parents should reach out to school counselors and psychologists for more information. MetroHealth’s Dr. Lisa Ramirez, director of community and behavioral health for the hospital system, said middle school students are at extra risk for mental health concerns during COVID-19.
Ayme McCain, associate director of prevention services at Recovery Resources, offered tips on how to support children during the pandemic, including keeping routines in place to maintain a sense of normalcy. McCain also suggested trying a new family activity, limiting students’ consumption of news, staying in touch virtually (being separated doesn’t mean you have to be isolated, so try a virtual family movie night in separate homes), and check in with your children and ask how they’re feeling. Parents should manage their own anxiety and model the behavior they want their children to honor.
The town hall concluded with a section on district-specific information. Superintendent Jodie Hausmann shared the district’s revised data dashboard, which includes district, city and county information. Hausmann also answered parent Kristina Dreslinksi’s question if the district would be switching to eLearning now that Cuyahoga County has moved into red alert for the first time since the district has been In-building mode. Hausmann said she and her team are closely monitoring the data in case the district needs to pivot to eLearning, but for now will remain In-building.
Speaking of eLearning, the district’s Director of Teaching and Learning Char Shryock talked about the district’s streaming instruction model and the new equipment being used to assist students and teachers. Bay Teachers Association President and Bay Middle School teacher Lauren Stanislaw shared what a typical day is like for students and teachers. Bay Village Schools’ Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Marty Patton discussed the district’s mask policy and special education services, and said the district is planning future town hall events that will be made available to the community.
The town hall ended with Hausmann and other district panelists discussing the district’s multi-layered safety mitigation process that’s in place in all district buildings, including photos.