Youngstown schools CEO lays out re-opening plan, busing is concern

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Remote instruction will continue for students on the days when in-person instruction is not occurring

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The CEO of Youngstown City Schools has decided to go with the recommendations of the CDC instead of a deal made with the state of Ohio when it comes to returning students to the classroom.

Youngstown Schools will miss the March 1 deadline set in place by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to get students back in class, even after the state agreed to have 60 percent of its teachers and staff vaccinated against COVID-19.

CEO Justin Jennings unveiled the plan Monday at the Academic Distress Commission. Starting March 23, Pre-K and first graders only will return to the classrooms on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a hybrid situation. Also on March 23, students with multiple disabilities and autism will also return to the classrooms.

On April 13, grades 2 through 5 will return on Mondays and Fridays.

Remote instruction will continue for students on the days when in-person instruction is not occurring. On those days, classrooms will be deep cleaned.

Students and staff will have to wear masks and seating will be spaced out for social distancing.

Jennings said the CDC will be monitored to decide if grades 6 through 12 should return but that struggling high school seniors will return on an individual basis.

Also, families will have the choice not to send their children, so virtual classes will continue. Jennings said the decision was based on CDC recommendations.

“The recommendation is for the elementaries to be in hybrid and more middle and high schools to remain virtual,” Jennings said.

In a statement after the meeting, Jennings said the decision is about safety.

“I’ve said since the beginning safety is the most important thing we have always based our decisions on. Information from health and science professionals. We will continue to do so,” Jennings said.

Jennings pointed out that Mahoning County remains in the red in terms of transmission risk

“The CDC recommends schools in areas with higher transmission risk remain virtual for older scholars. I think this is the best option,” he said.

Parents will be given a survey to indicate whether they prefer in-person hybrid or totally remote classes.

Jennings also said that the district transports 1,300 students who attend other schools. He said with social distancing, there are not enough buses to transport all students so the district is going to use School Emergency Relief Fund money to buy new buses but said it is “not a quick process.”

The new buses are expected to arrive in October.

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