MCE preparing for new school year; children’s health clinic to open at school. 

August 24, 2020

MCE preparing for new school year; children’s health clinic to open at school. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

CUSTER — As Mason County Eastern School officials prepare for a new school year, there will be some adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other area schools, MCE has adopted new procedures following CDC guidelines, such as replacing drinking fountains with bottle-filling stations, placing hand sanitizer dispensers around the school and posting social distancing reminders. One big change at the school this year, however, will be the addition of a children’s health clinic. 

The health clinic is being developed in cooperation with District Health Department No. 10. It’s creation is unrelated to COVID-19, but the timing of that creation couldn’t have been better, according to Superintendent Paul Shoup.

“The health clinic is being developed through a grant the health department received to provide health care to children in rural areas,” Shoup said. “MCE is the fiduciary and host of the clinic and it will be operated by the health department.” 

Shoup said the clinic, which will be located in the middle school, will provide free services to any child, not just MCE students. It will be staffed three days a week by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. The clinic will also provide mental health services as well. 

“It can be very challenging for parents of children in the eastern side of the county to get their child to a doctor,” Shoup said. “It’s our hope that this clinic can now provide services that will ease that burden. We are very excited about this relationship.” 

The clinic is expected to be open in October. 

In the meantime, the school’s staff is preparing for the 2020-2021 school year. Shoup said currently 70 to 75% of parents and students are choosing face-to-face instruction. 

Principal Mark Forner said he believes MCE will have an advantage adjusting to social distancing practices because it’s a smaller school. 

“We already have a smaller teacher to student ratio, which allows us to spread the students apart more,” Forner said.

Both Shoup and Forner agree that face-to-face learning is the best option for students. But, MCE is prepared for remote learning. 

“We understand that some families are not ready to return to the physical school building,” Forner said. “We have prepared some great options for those who prefer to study remotely.” 

Shoup said the school is avoiding the term “online” learning because many families in MCE’s district have limited or no access to the Internet. 

Students in grades kindergarten through second will use a tablet with loaded software that does not require the Internet for math and English. Students in grades three through five will use Google Classroom and will include iXL software for math, English, social studies and science. 

Secondary students (grades six through 12) will utilize the e2020 software. 

(Check out www.mceschools.com for more information and details). 

Certain teachers will be assigned to oversee remote learning. 

“Those teachers will not only oversee the educational well-being of the students but will also be responsible for making sure other needs of the child are met, just like if that child were in a face-to-face setting,” Forner said. “There will be a lot of contact between the teachers and the families.” 

As is the policy with other area schools, families must commit to face-to-face or remote learning for an entire 12-week trimester. Those students that do not make contact with the school will automatically be enrolled in face-to-face instruction. 

“It’s really important that families that have concerns contact us and discuss the options,” Forner said. 

The first day of school will be Sept. 8. 

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