Butler County’s first classes start today as districts continue coronavirus changes

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Posted at 7:03 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 10:47:06-04

The area’s return to classes begins today as Butler Tech becomes the first locally to open its schools in the shadow of the coronavirus, according to the Journal-News.

Thousands of high school students from the local school districts served by Butler Tech will be welcomed back to the in-person learning that was canceled in March during the initial spread of the global pandemic.

And across Butler and southern Warren county, public and private schools are preparing and learning numerous new health and safety protocols as they ready their teachers and staffers for the start of the 2020-2021 school year in the coming weeks.

Above it all is the mission to keep the coronavirus out of school buildings, starting locally with the four main campuses of Butler Tech, said officials from the career school system.

“We know that health and safety is the primary focus as we return to school this year,” said Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech. “We are doing everything possible to make sure our students, and our staff members, are safe when they return to Butler Tech.”

One precaution involves including fewer students. Under Butler Tech’s hybrid opening schedule, only half of its 1,700 students will attend in-person classes per school day with the remaining learning from home.

Graft, who has three children attending area public schools, said he knows the stakes are high for even a partial opening during a pandemic.

“The students and staff will be required to wear masks while inside all campus buildings and everyone will practice social distancing. Butler Tech has added additional cleaning staff to ensure that deep cleaning and sanitizing at a level and frequency that helps combat the spread of the virus,” he said.

“Additionally, the hybrid (scheduling) model reduces the number of students on all campuses by 50 percent each day, greatly increasing the ability to successfully social distance and minimizing exposure to students and staff.”

At Butler County’s Madison Schools, teachers are already busy in learning the safety requirements against coronavirus as well as their usual back-to-school professional development.

“Due to COVID-19, this fall may be particularly challenging and unusual for our students and staff,” said Lisa Tuttle-Huff, superintendent of Madison Schools. “We had to learn to plan for a year when there are so many unknowns.”

Madison will open with a staggered-start schedule on Monday.

“Madison is planning a schedule where students will learn online one day, and attend the next day to keep numbers low and keep distance between students for the first three weeks of school. This is to make sure that we have all safety measures in place before all students come together,” she said.