Entering 2021, Goodrich schools focus on safety, improvements

GOODRICH — The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic remain the central focus for the Goodrich Area Schools as the nation embarks on the new year.

“This is a different type of year,” said Superintendent Wayne Wright. “This is a whole lot different of a year than we’ve ever had in the past.”

The prime objective is getting students back to face-to-face learning, Wright said.

“With COVID, we’re making sure everything is safe, making sure we’re following the protocols,” he said. “We have a lot of meetings. We’re checking all the metrics. We’re doing what we can at this point. We have to look at it from a 10,000-foot level, rather than a boots-on-the-ground level on a daily basis. We would normally have some goals. But this year, our goal is to keep students and staff as safe as possible.”

While health and safety in the age of COVID is an overwhelming concern, it is not the only issue before the Board of Education.

In 2020, voters approved a zero-increase bond request. That means there is a lot of work to do.

A new telephone system is bringing the district it into compliance with new Enhanced 911 rules.

“Normally, when you dial 911, it goes to the main office and they don’t know what room its coming from,” Wright explained. “With the new, E911, it will say exactly where the call is coming from. We had to have that in place by Dec. 31.”

District officials have been doing a lot of planning, meeting biweekly and preparing to break ground on the new gym at Oaktree Elementary School.

“We are getting all the plans and designs together for that,” Wright said.

Currently, the school has a multipurpose room that serves as a cafeteria and gym. The tile floor does not lend itself well to gym activities. Scheduling also is problematic.

“We have to have lunches much later because of it,” said Wright.

The new gym will feature a full-size floor and a couple rows of bleachers.

Maker spaces, complete with new technology, also will be built this year, which will open up a host of opportunities and enhance an already robust robotics program.

The summer construction season will include roof replacement on three of the four buildings. Later projects, looking to 2022, will include parking lots, more maker spaces, a reconstructed media center and cafeteria, and more security features including locks and cameras.

“We’ve ordered some technology – Chromebooks – for this year,” said Wright. “It’s unknown when they will come in, maybe not until the end of the year. It’s impossible to get computers right now.”

Normally, Wright said, he would be “going gung-ho” on the bond projects, but COVID is overshadowing some of the enthusiasm.

“The main thing right now is doing whatever we can to keep the students and staff safe and provide the best education possible,” he said.