October 26, 2021

Back to the business of school

Baxter welcoming families, community back to the school

Everyone was invited for the first day of school at Baxter Monday and the community showed up. For the first time, Back to School Night was planned for the evening of the first day of school bringing together students, families and community members to see where the district is heading.

“We’re really focused on building a positive school year. Positive culture, positive relationship with the community, positive relationship with each other. Really focused on, OK we survived, now we let’s start to thrive,” superintendent Mickolyn Clapper said.

After a year of having the community on the outside looking in, even with the grand opening of the newly constructed school building, district leaders are excited to have everyone come check out what is happening in the classrooms and the hopes and goals for the upcoming year. With the community being such a large part of what makes the schools great, Clapper wants them to be a part of the future, too.

“It really is a community school with the library and fitness center inside the building. The center of this community is the school and we need to refocus that and get people in here and see what we have going on,” Clapper said. “Also work on rebuilding the relationship, not that we’re mad at each other, we just couldn’t do anything together. We want to open the doors.”

Kids with their families filled the halls, showing where their lockers are, who they sit by and what is special about their classroom. Community groups also set up offering education on their services and how they can provide for the district and city throughout the year.

While COVID isn’t a distant memory yet and precautions are still taking place including continued cleaning and sanitizing in the school, how the district can handle the virus has changed from the previous school year. COVID is now treated like any illness such as the flu, strep throat, etc. and caregivers are asked to watch their own children and keep them home if they are sick.

“If your kid is sick, keep them home. If they have exposed the rest of the class, you’re supposed to just watch your own kid,” Clapper said. “There is no contact tracing anymore. As of right now, that is how it is but it could change at the drop of a hat.”

As a district, it was decided it is up to the caregivers of the child on whether to wear a mask or not. Baxter is also continuing to offer an online option for students if they don’t feel comfortable coming back to the classroom.

“We’re just really focused this year on getting back to business as usual. Last year was really just kind of a survival year. We did the best we could to grow kids but we were just really worried about their social/emotional health and just trying to get them in here and keep them safe,” Clapper said. “Now, we’re looking at how to move forward. We are really focused on how to grow kids and figure out what gaps we have and move forward. It is really almost like a reset. Now we are here for the business of school again.”

With the school year now started, the rebuilding process is underway and there is so much to look forward to for the Baxter Bolts. With the communities support and participation, the students and staff are sure to have one of the best years, yet.

“We’re super excited about the fall and building the positive momentum,” Clapper said.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com