Whitehall City Schools in 2021: Superintendent wants to move beyond COVID-19 in new year

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Whitehall-Yearling High School

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is expected to continue to cause disruptions with Whitehall City Schools in 2021, according to Superintendent Brian Hamler.

Yet, Hamler said, he is hopeful that with a promising vaccine being distributed locally and beyond, school functions will return to normal in the next 12 months.

“We know most students learn best when they receive in-person instruction,” he said. “The arrival of the vaccine is great news, and I believe it will be a game-changer in the fight against the pandemic.

“However, there will still be a need to take precautions and recover from the effects of this crisis before school can really be normal again.”

Brian Hamler

During the new year, Hamler said, he looks forward to implementing a three-year strategic plan that was rolled out in spring 2020 but was sidelined because of the pandemic.

“The profile of the learner calls for all students to be ready, resilient and resourceful,” he said. “A ready student has the foundational literacy skills and the content mastery to create success.

"A resilient student has the social-emotional competencies necessary for success long after graduation.

“A resourceful student has developed the soft skills of collaboration, communication and critical thinking that make them attractive to future employers. Whitehall is also committed to increasing equitable access to improve learning outcomes for all our students."

Hamler credited district staff members for their “amazing job of providing instruction remotely.”

“Our principals and curriculum department have supported them with materials and professional development,” he said. “The Reset/Restart plan was well thought out and provided guidance for both synchronous and asynchronous lessons. It is not as effective as having students in the buildings, but it is effective.”

School board President Mike Adkins said district leaders were trying to get students "back in school as soon as possible, but we will do it in as safe a manner as we know how."

"It’s not the most popular thing for 100% of our district, but these are tough choices we have to make," Adkins said. "We were getting low on staff and subs, so it was tough to keep full staff in the buildings.”

Meanwhile, finances remain an outstanding issue for the district, Hamler said.

“State funding for our district has been capped since 2014,” he said. “Legislators have a plan in front of them that would provide equitable funding for districts like Whitehall. We are extremely reliant on state funding, and every two years when the biennial budget begins a new cycle, it is important for our voice to be heard.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary