Bowling Green City Schools Board of Education are considering two options on how classes will look this fall.

Members of the district’s leadership team presented their ideas, concerns and mandates at a 2.5-hour online meeting Thursday.

Four options were analyzed, ranging from classes five days a week with students in class, to an entirely online format, like what was done the last two months of this past school year.

“We have spent a lot of time discussing, counter-pointing, looking at different kinds of things that we could do to educate our students,” said Superintendent Francis Scruci.

The board will meet again Thursday at 5 p.m. with the intent of further discussion and to possibly make a decision.

“This is not something we cannot take serious,” Scruci said. “This is not an easy process … there is no blueprint, this is unchartered times.”

The discussion among district administrators focused on the option that would have kids in school part of the time and having online lessons as well.

Of the four options originally analyzed, two were presented to the board.

Option 2 offers a blended model with pre-kindergarten-12 students in both an in-person classroom and online lessons. Groups of students would stay with the same teacher throughout the day and classrooms would have 6 feet separating the desks.

Option 3 would require a split schedule for elementary with face-to-face classroom lessons, and with grades 6-12 online. Classrooms and social distancing for elementary students would be the same as Option 2.

Not being considered are options for opening school with full-size classes taught face to face; and offering classes entirely online.

“There is no plan that exists that’s going to make every person, every parent, every community member happy,” Scruci said. “No one size fits all.”

He said he expects criticism with whatever plan is picked.

“But at the end of the day, we’re going to recommend what we think is best for students, staff and our families.”

Scruci also cautioned against making comparisons with what other districts are doing.

“No two districts are alike. I can’t recommend anything to the board based on what our neighbors are doing,” he said.

Coronavirus and restrictions change week to week, and parents, students and staff need to understand that.

Planning meetings have included union members and representatives from the Wood County Health Department. CDC, Restart Ohio and Ohio Department of Education guidelines also have been considered.

A survey was sent out to staff and parents, with 314 and 1,292 responding, respectively.

“We needed to hear from our parents, their comfort level, and we needed to hear from our staff,” Scruci said.

Fourteen percent of parents said their child was at-risk while 35% said they have someone living in the home who is high risk, said Zeb Kellough, Crim Elementary principal.

Twenty-five percent said they won’t send their students back to the classroom and 85% said their biggest concern was keeping their child interested in classwork.

“We thought childcare would be one of the bigger issues,” Kellough said.

The second largest concern, at 63%, was for the socio-emotional being of their child. Fifty-one percent were concerned about their ability to support their child at home.

The staff survey results showed 48% wanted face-to-face instruction, while 38% preferred the blended option and 22% thought online was best.

The two options under consideration take the safety of students and staff as well as parent wishes in mind.

Option 2 will be an A, B schedule where the same students are in the classroom two days a week and taking online lessons the other two days. Students will stay with the same teacher. This option puts the district in a good position to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak and quickly move to full-time online learning.

Benefits include every student who comes to school will have face time with a teacher; at-risk students will have the option to learn online; rigors and the consistency of instruction is higher; and it allows for a full day of cleaning for the buildings.

Challenges include a higher risk of student exposure to COVID-19; social distancing requires reduced class size; masks will be mandated for teacher PK-12 and students K-12; and with the mandate of no fans, the lack of air conditioning in three of the buildings could affect the health of students and teachers.

Option 3 would have grades K-5 face to face, with K, 1 and 2 at Crim and 3-5 at the middle school – the two air-conditioned buildings in the district. Grades 6-12 will be taught online by middle school and high school teachers.

Benefits include PK-5 will attend school four days per week; and elementary students will have healthy air quality.

Challenges would be providing services and support for at-risk students; student accountability; and the potential financial cost of moving the K-5 classrooms.

“Regardless of what option the board goes with, we are going to have an online component and an online curriculum that will be available for families,” Scruci said.

Non-negotiated mandates include wearing a mask on the bus and while in the school building.

Water bottle dispensers will be installed, replacing traditional water fountains, and upon entering their building, students will be required to go straight to their first-period classroom.

Other recommendations include:

• No visitors or volunteers will be allowed in the buildings.

• Students will not be permitted to use lockers but will be able to carry their bookbags into the classroom.

• Each building will develop its own dismissal plans.

• Students will be assigned specific seats on the bus and in the classroom, to allow tracking in case someone gets sick.

• No field trips will be allowed until further notice.

• Fans will not be allowed nor will exhaust fans in labs.

• There will be no fifth-grade camp for the 2020-21 school year.

“That is probably the hardest decision we had to make,” Scruci said. “That is something that is a tradition in this district … but we cannot take that chance.”

Parents will be responsible for taking their child’s temperature at home and assessing their health, and staff will need to take their own temperature at home.

“I am going to plead with our parents, not to do what typically some parents will do” and that is give Tylenol to a child with a temperature and send them off to school, Scruci said.

“We are not in those kind of times anymore,” he said.

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