West Geauga High School Principal Ryan Patti gave a presentation at the regular school board meeting Monday on proposed changes to the high school’s bell schedule, including 15 new courses, switching to a plus or minus grading system, and a changed bell schedule.

Additions and updates to courses and course pathways would include a possible addition of ACT prep, American Sign Language, content area support, Medical Terminology and Anatomy I, Medical Terminology and Anatomy II, World Cultures, American Wars, Chinese III and IV, French IV, Drawing and Painting, and nine in-house College Credit Plus courses.

These courses would come at no additional cost to the school, Mr. Patti said.

A yearlong ACT course could help students who want to save money on private tutors or who do not have access to an ACT program. It could also help to market the district, as the ACT has historically been one of the school’s weakest areas.

“Our students could use a lot more assistance and support in the ACT,” Mr. Patti said. “This is stuff our students should have access to.”

Switching to a plus or minus grading system would help reflect student performance more accurately. Under the current system, a 3.8 GPA could be rendered as a 3.5 because of the difference between including an A+ or simply calling it an A.

Changes to the bell schedule would give students more flexibility during an hour-long lunch and advisory period, specifically students taking upper-level courses.

During the section of the meeting reserved for public comments, Phil Paradise, a Lindsey Elementary parent and head of his workplace’s COVID task force support team, addressed the board to express his dissatisfaction with the district’s extension of its mask mandate to March 18 without public discussion.

Mr. Paradise cited an opinion editorial by the Wall Street Journal stating the wearing of masks for elementary children does more harm than good, and noted neighboring Berkshire, Cardinal, and Chardon do not require masks for the “lowest-risk group during the pandemic, which is the kids,” and asked the board to do the same. The Chardon Board of Education voted to rescind its mask mandate, which is in fact still in place until Jan. 18.

“COVID will always be active in our community. Obviously, we know by now what doesn’t work, and that’s forcing a 10-year-old into a mask,” Mr. Paradise said, mentioning Superintendent Richard Markwardt’s earlier statement that the number of active COVID-19 cases reflects that the virus is still active in the community.

As of Jan. 10, there were eight active COVID cases among West Geauga students and one active case among staff, according to the district website.

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