PERRYSBURG — Bus transportation for high school students has been eliminated as part of the back-to-school plan approved by the Perrysburg school board.
Bus transportation will be eliminated for grades 9-12 for and private school students as per the plan approved Monday.
“Unfortunately, in grades 9-12, the Ohio Revised Code does not require students to be bused. For us to be able to bring students K-8, two to a seat, again, significantly reduces our ability to transport students. We have to repurpose all of those high school buses. They are now going to be bringing in elementary, junior high and Hull Prairie students,” said Superintendent Tom Hosler.
Social distancing on the bus will limit each seat to a maximum of two students. Those buses will be needed to transport elementary, Hull Prairie Intermediate and Perrysburg Junior High School students. The walk radius will also increase up to two miles for some students. Exceptions are being made for students that have to cross large and busy streets.
Focused on flexibility, the new hybrid learning model mixes virtual and face-to-face education.
“So the plan that we are laying out here again is asking for your support, but it’s also asking for your understanding, your patience and allowing us to be flexible, to make those decisions. Because we want to make them for the best, to give students that experience to want them to come back to school,” Hosler said.
The board approved the plan with a vote of 4-1, with board member Kelly Ewbank voting no.
The flexibility of the system is built based on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System and the county risk level alerts.
All levels would have remote learning on Mondays.
If Wood County is at Level 1, all K-12 students attend face-to-face classes four days a week.
Levels 2 and 3 means K-6 students attend face-to-face classes four days a week; grade 7-12 students attend face-to-face classes two days per week.
Level 4 will require all remote learning K-12.
“There will be a full remote option available under all emergency levels for students who are medically fragile or unable to return to the classroom for any reason,” Hosler said.
“As the school district moves between these levels, we would make adjustments as soon as possible while allowing families and teachers time to transition accordingly.”
There was a long list of safety precautions, including staggered schedules for daily use of lockers and class transitions, no assemblies and virtual meetings between staff and parents.
“I firmly believe we go back to school four or five days a week, or not at all,” Ewbank said. “Schools need to weigh risks.”
She also had extensive questions about the use of masks and was not in favor of the variability of the system being based off the Ohio health advisory system.
One of the big debates of the evening hinged around masks. It began before the presentation by Hosler, with guest speaker Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, an infectious disease specialist from the University of Toledo Medical Center.
“I would try to use mask as much as possible,” Hanrahan said. “I think for very young children it may be very difficult to do that.”
For students K-2, face shields will be required in the classroom and will remain at the school.
Part of the program would require masks throughout the day for all employees and students in grades 3-12 with cloth masks for common areas with high student traffic, on the bus, when in hallways.
Later this week a detailed parent manual will be released.
“This disease is real and it is close,” said board member Gretchen Downs as part of her closing statements. “Take the recommendations of all the experts.”
She then related the story of an acquaintance who has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for 15 days and the numerous health issues resulting from it, as well as the stresses on the woman’s family.
That was followed by board member Eric Benington, who is an accountant.
“I rely on the experts,” said Benington. “My vote here is in full support of this hybrid plan.”