PERRYSBURG — A hybrid form of combined virtual and face-to-face education is expected for fall classes as the administration laid out details at the Monday school board meeting.
“What you are going to see is a brainstorm and a group effort, coming up with what are the best options we feel are for our district, given the resources that we have,” said Brook Price, interim assistant superintendent.
What was considered realistic was balanced with child development, she said.
“As required social distancing and safety procedures are relaxed, we will work to bring all students back for in-person learning. If this is not possible by the start of the ‘20-21 school year, we will begin the year with the following Hybrid Learning Model,” Price said.
All program options presented to the Perrysburg Board of Education include a Monday virtual school day.
They want to continue with at least one virtual day because they see the potential for the need to quarantine, possible mandated closures and students with health risks, which would require an online platform to deliver instruction.
“A four-day, in-person week provides the time for teachers to collaborate and plan to improve our remote instruction methods while also providing in-person instruction,” Price said.
She added that it also allows us to plan for better sanitation while addressing the financial impact of coronavirus.
Social distancing is the key factor. The district is waiting on requirements from the state, but has not discounted the potential for not having any state mandated restrictions. That would still result in added safety precautions, like hand sanitizing stations and Plexiglas barriers in the lunch line.
Gov. Mike DeWine said in his Tuesday press briefing that state guidelines on reopening schools in the fall will be released in the next 10 days. Schools have not been in session since March due to coronavirus.
The district has prepared plans for options for no restrictions, a 6-foot distancing rule and a four-foot distancing rule.
Price added that if anything less than the 6-foot social distancing is required the district would reevaluate, “to bring back the maximum number of students based on these conditions and the school district’s ability to transport students.”
Elementary schools will be open four days a week.
If there is a social distancing requirement, students above the elementary school level will attend face-to-face classes two days a week, with three days a week being virtual, including Monday.
Teachers would be in the schools four days a week and the students would have what they are calling “flipped schedules.” Half the students would be in the school Tuesday and Wednesday and then the other half would go face-to-face on Thursday and Friday.
The flipped schedule would be necessary if social distancing allows only half as many students in a classroom.
They started their decision making with survey research on families in the district.
“We do still have about 27% of people that need to know what our plan is to keep students safe, to keep families safe. Then we have a little over 4% of people that they are not comfortable sending their children regardless. There are health issues. There are other concerns,” Price said.
She pointed out that 4%, in a district with 5,500 students, is about 220 kids.
They found that about 45% of the people are comfortable with their students returning, if the district has a plan. There are about 20% of families that are somewhat comfortable.
“This tells us that we do need to plan to keep safety in mind, but also working to get students back in person,” Price said.
Social distancing issues start with transportation.
“No pun intended, but on many levels, transportation drives what we can and can’t do,” Price said.
Districts must transport students in grades kindergarten-eight, who do not live within 2 miles of their school building.
“If we can only transport one student per seat… we will need as many buses as possible to transport K-8 students. As a result, we may need to extend the walk area to 2 miles and eliminate 9-12 transportation for Perrysburg High School and private school students,” Price said.
Frank Elementary was used as an example for the 4-foot model. Last year the 280 students would ride four buses with 26 seats, or 78 passengers per bus. Assuming a single student per seat for social distancing, 10.8 buses would be needed to transport the same number of students.
Ultimately, Superintendent Tom Hosler said the final decision on the model they will go with is dependent on DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health, with the legislature possibly weighing in on the subject.