(WKBN) – With more than a hundred educators from around northeast Ohio listening in virtually Thursday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said he understands how important it is for students to get back to school this fall — whether that’s in the classroom or at home.
“We have to try to do this without leaving anybody behind and…it’s an enormous task that you face.”
Husted said Ohio went from a 4% unemployment rate in February to nearly 11% at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, creating an even greater reliance on technology skills.
“Here’s what we learned from COVID, is people have gone to telehealth, to remote work, to online education.”
While Husted told the audience the state is doing what it can to help educators get students ready for the workforce of tomorrow, he said the process of getting those kids back to class in the middle of a pandemic is going to involve local choices.
“We encourage you to do everything you can to try to create the best possible environment for those students to learn.”
With at least some of that education focusing on students keeping themselves and their families safe.
“The distancing, the wearing the masks, the washing of their hands, the keeping with the smallest groups that they can be around — all of those things are essential,” Husted said.
State Sen. Michael Rulli was among those speaking at Thursday’s educator’s conference. He said school districts are now going through many of the same issues businesses did last spring.
He reminded educators not to be afraid to change course if their initial plans don’t work out as expected.
“Just because you had a blueprint on July 1, that blueprint might look completely different by October 1,” Rulli said. “Believe me, from a guy over here who was on a school board for a decade, I know that the school boards want the superintendents and principals to be the leader.”
Ohio Auditor Keith Faber is looking for some guidance on how to ensure students are actually participating in their classes, especially those held online.
Faber talked to the group of educators, saying Ohio’s community and charter schools are required to account for student attendance for their state funding, which is not the case for public schools.
He admitted the department of education could eventually change its regulations as more and more districts switch to online learning.
“If it morphs to an all-online-type model for a district or an all-online for certain areas, we’re going to have to have that conversation to make sure that we don’t lose a year learning or longer from those environments,” Faber said.