YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The decision to hold in-person classes this fall at schools across Ohio and the U.S. is weighing heavily on administrators.
According to Education Week, nine of the nation’s largest school districts are planning for a remote-learning-only education plan for this fall.
Education Week has been tracking and sharing many reopening plans for school districts across the nation, offering a snapshot of how districts will begin the new school year.
Locally, Youngstown City Schools, Reynolds Schools and Freedom Area schools in Beaver County have all announced they will be online for the start of the school year. Akron schools also announced they will do the same.
Some school administrators who have chosen to start all online say that mask wearing for students and staff would be difficult. They also worry about the disruption of beginning classes in person only to be forced to close later and transitioning to an online scenario.
School plans are evolving, even as districts move closer to the start of class in August and September.
The challenges of the new school year are unprecedented. Districts that are ready to bring students back to class have to simultaneously plan for a closure that could put students in a remote-learning environment.
Educators want to be more prepared than they were in March, and many agree that some education was lost during that time. According to Education Week, teachers were frustrated about students not logging in, and some students appeared to have trouble focusing on schoolwork at home.
The biggest factor in how schools will manage this fall with be the local surge in COVID-19 cases. New guidance released last week from the CDC gave administrators more things to consider when deciding to bring students back to class.
Key considerations for administrators include the COVID-19 transmission rate, cohorting opportunities, contact tracing, communication and sanitation guidelines.
The unique and critical role that schools play makes them a priority for opening and remaining open, enabling students to receive both academic instruction and support as well as critical services. In order to prioritize opening schools safely and helping them to remain open, communities should consider adopting actions to mitigate community transmission.Centers for Disease Control
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said the state’s mask mandate will play a critical role in reducing community spread of COVID-19. The mandate called for only people 10 years and older to be required to wear masks when out in public, but schools can adjust their own policies.
President Donald Trump is pushing for schools to reopen 100%. He is calling for legislation that will help with funding and incentives to “safely reopen this fall and to empower families with school choice.”
Trump is requesting $105 billion in education funding as part of the next coronavirus relief bill, with $70 billion paid directly to support K-12 education.
The GOP $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill was released Monday, and negotiations are underway between both parties to come up with a deal before school starts and other stipulations in the first relief package come to an end, some as soon as the end of the week.