Districts preparing for Ohio's decision on reopening schools

Posted at 9:20 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 23:18:36-04

Gov. Mike DeWine promised Friday to have clearer answers next week about reopening Ohio schools.

Now, local school superintendents are actively contemplating what the transition from remote learning back into classrooms could look like in case that happens soon.

“When you look at our lunch, for example, we have about 900 kids coming together for lunch three or four times a day at our high school,” said Jonathan Cooper, superintendent for Mason City Schools.

He said that would make maintaining distance difficult, just one of the potential challenges the district has been trying to plan around should schools reopen soon.

“The logistics of using our transportation system and get our kids safely here on the bus with some of those safe distance protocols" is another concern for Cooper.

Though school leaders have been tossing around ideas, direction from the state will be crucial to safely reintegrating the district's 10,500 students back into its four buildings.

“I’ve heard everything from maybe using split sessions. I guess that was something used 40 years ago to make sure there weren’t as many kids in one place at a time,” he said.

At this point, Norwood City Schools Superintendent Mary Ronan doesn’t expect school buildings to re-open before the end of this school year.

“We’re all thinking about August, what’s that going to look like, how are we going to handle it. We’ve heard social distancing that’s very hard with young children - are they talking split schedules, alternate days - we just don’t know,” Ronan said.

If the state does decide to keep schools closed, both district leaders plan to focus on improving remote learning programs, especially their accessibility. Ronan said Norwood currently sends home paper packets, with plans to send more soon for those who can’t get online every day.

Cooper also wants to focus on a more “robust” online learning experience.

“We’re trying to think of creative and innovative ways to build that for our families,” he said.