Weatherford ISD Board Secretary Greg Shaw presented COVID-19 information to the Rotary Club this week, saying the district is following strict protocols and is in a very good financial position.
“Rotary has six areas they focus on at every level from local clubs to the international level. One of those categories is for our youth,” Rotary Club President Peggy Hutton said. “Having someone from the school districts come speak to our club about the current happenings at the district is important to us. We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of our youth in the community.”
Shaw, with help from WISD board member Wally Wallace, discussed some of the strict protocols that Weatherford ISD has been following during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over 80% of our students decided to do in-person learning, so we were excited about that. Yes, we have had some positive cases, we expected that and we have a protocol in place. If there’s a positive case, we do contact tracing and there’s quarantine in place just like everywhere else,” Shaw said. “We knew there would be instances, we’re just trying to keep it under control. With the students there have been very few, maybe two students and maybe two or three teachers, and then what we do is we quarantine. So if that teacher exposed her class or his class, then we’re required to notify every parent of a child that was in that class.”
Shaw said things like Kanga Care Clinics and disinfecting practices have helped the district stay ahead of the curve.
“We’re in the second year of our Kanga Care Clinics where at every one of our campuses our nurses are trained with the Parker County Hospital District and we have telemedicine at every one of our campuses. We’re in our third year of our security program, so we have a security guard or police officer at every campus and have controlled access entry,” Shaw said. “We’ve been ahead of the curve on some of this and Alicia Hernandez (executive director of support services) we consider a rock star with what she’s able to do.”
Shaw said the district is in a very good financial position and highlighted some improvements that have been done in WISD.
“Over the last several years we’ve done quite a few additions to our campuses without any kind of outside bond money. We’ve done some improvements at the high school stadium and for our team sports — we built our indoor facility and new baseball and softball facility — as well as a lot of improvements on the interior of our campuses for a friendly environment for the students and teachers,” Shaw said. “We’ve been trying to do that in-house and financially, Weatherford ISD is in a very good position. Most districts talk about their general fund balance and everybody tries to keep at least two months, but we have a four-month operating fund balance.”
Even with the pandemic, WISD was able to lower its tax rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year from $1.34 per $100 valuation to $1.32 per $100 valuation.
But Shaw said the district knew the coronavirus wasn’t just going to disappear.
“We said from the beginning we’re not going to hide anything, there’s no benefit in that, so we’re going to be upfront and we’re going to follow strict protocols and put them in place. It’s a virus and we knew that it wasn’t going to disappear,” Shaw said. “We just have to do the best we can. We still feel like having kids in school, in a great environment — a clean, nurturing environment — is better than the alternative.”
Hutton said the Rotary Club is looking at ways to help the school district.
“Change is hard for all of us and sometimes we just have to do the best we can,” Hutton said. “Every year the Rotary Club of Weatherford has been delivering dictionaries to all fourth graders in WISD. This year we will be changing that to other books. The pandemic has really changed how we all work but in the school system, it has drastically changed the day for every student and teacher. The Rotary Club wants to help out with making the changes easier so we need to know how that can be accomplished. I believe children are resilient and they will overcome. I pray for our teachers that they may reach those children entrusted to their care. Our youth are the future.”