Plans A, B and C: Local schools forced to be flexible with COVID-19 uncertainty, ever-changing guidelines

Coronavirus

While superintendents across the region focus on keeping their students and staff safe, health experts warn further changes are all but guaranteed

MAHONING CO., Ohio (WKBN) – With months already invested in trying to come up with strategies to begin the fall semester, school districts are being forced to change their plans because of COVID-19.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a new mandate, requiring students in kindergarten through 12th grade to wear masks in school. There are some exceptions for children with disabilities or deformities.

“The best laid plans, right? They’re just going to need to adjust and it’s a very stressful time,” said Traci Hostetler, superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

On Monday night, administrators in Poland canceled all school activities until further notice after learning one athlete may have been exposed to the virus.

In addition, at least four districts in the Shenango Valley, including Sharpsville, have had to make changes in their activities.

At South Range, parents and educators will gather online Tuesday evening to discuss reopening the district.

“I think, from a medical standpoint, the most important piece right now is planning,” said Dr. James Kravec, Mahoning County medical director.

He said local districts are being forced to come up with plans A, B and C to keep up.

“The COVID information, the health department information, the information from the state changes so frequently — sometimes a couple times a day, let alone a couple times a week.”

“This whole process, I would definitely say, has been frustrating,” Hostetler said. “We’re educators. We’re not trying to be doctors.”

While Hostetler and other superintendents across the region focus on keeping their students and staff safe, health experts warn further changes are all but guaranteed.

“It’s not so much if, it’s when it’ll happen for each school,” Kravec said.

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