Eastwood High School

File photo. Eastwood High School.

PEMBERVILLE – Eastwood Local Schools has evaluated its school schedule and has decided to remain on the hybrid model.

Superintendent Brent Welker alerted the community to that decision in an email Friday.

The evaluation was planned at the end of the first three weeks of the school year; the current hybrid plan will continue until the end of the nine-week period on Oct. 23.

The hope at that time is to put middle and high school students on the same schedule as the elementary: in the buildings Tuesday-Friday with Monday remaining a remote day.

“There are significant issues that would have to be resolved if we want to bring those students back for more face-to-face instruction,” Welker said.

“If the data supports moving back to fives a week, we need time to transition,” he added Tuesday.

There are currently no active coronavirus cases in the district and the quarantine numbers are manageable. The ability to maintain social distancing has helped with contact tracing and Welker said that is another good reason to keep the current plan in place.

He said the district is not ready to welcome middle school and high school students back quite yet, adding that several challenges will need to be addressed before that happens, including:

• Bringing all students back to the middle school and high school will limit social distancing on buses, in classrooms and in the cafeteria.

• Lunch schedules for grades 6-12 will need to be altered to provide for three full lunch periods to allow adequate distance between students.

• Physically moving desks, chairs and tables back into rooms will take time. In addition, each classroom will need to be evaluated to try and space kids out to the greatest extent possible.

So far, the hybrid schedule has worked and both students and staff have become more familiar with online learning, Welker said.

“We are seeing more and more opportunities for students to access real time instruction on their hybrid days. We are getting better, and the students seem to be getting the hang of it,” he said.

Grades 6-12 are split into two groups, one attending Tuesday and Thursday, the other Wednesday and Friday.

He said the importance of remote days can’t be overstated. If the district has to go to 100% online, the practice that staff and students have had in the last three weeks will be critical, Welker said.

However, he said does not want the district to swing between hybrid, to face-to-face learning and back.

“Extending the hybrid does not guarantee that we will not see an outbreak at some point, but it still gives us a great chance to work with our kids and get to know them better,” Welker said.

Waiting until the end of the first nine weeks will give the district time to plan additional face-to-face instruction and allow students in the online academy to opt back in to in-person learning if they so choose.

“The Oct. 23 date gives us time to continue to evaluate the experiences not only in our own district, but in those who are meeting face-to-face more frequently with their kids,” Welker said.

He said at that point district leaders will look at the data and see what the virus is doing in neighboring school districts. He will update the community the week of Oct. 12.