West Branch prepares 3 models for classes

BELOIT– West Branch school officials have prepared multiple plans for the restart of school this fall, but are awaiting more guidance from the governor and health officials.

School Superintendent Timothy Saxton reported to the school board this week he has three models set for the fall based on the COVID-19 pandemic. The models include all in-person instruction following health guidelines; a hybrid of in-person and online instruction that will have students attending school a couple days a week; and all online instruction with full closure of the classrooms.

Saxton said faculty, staff, administrative and school board members have been meeting via Zoom to talk through the initial stages of returning to school, but that the district has not received any guidance from the governor’s office yet on how to provide instruction in the fall. He said committees and subcommittees will continue to meet to further develop the restart plans.

Saxton said he believes the bulk of the decision making will be left to the individual districts to determine what is best for their students, such as transportation, cafeteria and recess issues where students will be in close contact. He said the district will likely have to form its own plan in the best interest of students with suggestions from local health departments, faculty, staff and parents.

Saxton said he received 574 responses to a parent survey posted to the district website regarding the restart and feelings about in-person and online instruction. Anyone with thoughts or suggestion on the upcoming school year should continue to contact Saxton at timothy.saxton@wbwarriors.org or 330-938-9324.

In other business, the board agreed to discuss how to handle the potential sale or donation of equipment and memorabilia from Knox Elementary, which the district closed beginning this fall. Saxton said the board needs to develop a consensus on how to handle requests and the eventual relinquishment of items, although he noted the board should not part get rid of anything for a while.

Board President Courtney Stryffeler said she believes it is important to ensure the history of the school is placed in the hands of people who will maintain the memory of the building where so many people in the community spent their formative years.

Boardmember Karen Rice suggested creating a display of historical items to honor the district’s history and install it in a location where the public can easily view it. She cited a display of photos of school buildings from the district’s past and prior to the district formation in the superintendent’s office, saying it is only accessible to visitors to the office.



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