Superintendents from Wood County will meet with the health commissioner to get information on the potential full-time return of students to the classroom.

Bowling Green City Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci sent out a correspondence to the community Friday in which he said he is hopeful district students may soon return to face-to-face learning.

Bowling Green students have not been in classes in person since March when the coronavirus pandemic started.

Gov. Mike DeWine has announced that school personnel will be included in the 1B group eligible for vaccinations, along with anyone over the age of 65 and anyone with certain medical conditions.

Last week, Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Robison said he estimates there are 35,000 county residents who fall in that category.

Currently, the doses for those in the 1A group, which includes health workers, EMS and emergency responders, has not been sufficient to meet the demand.

DeWine has said it is his hope to start 1B vaccinations March 1 but supports the idea that if students wear masks, it is safe to return to in-person learning.

Scruci said in his emailed letter that he will share information from Monday’s superintendent meeting with members of the board of education at its special meeting Tuesday.

”I am hopeful that based on the information shared at this meeting we may be able to consider returning our students to school in the near future,” he said in the email.

The matrix established by the school board in the fall would keep students educated remotely as the county remains at level red.

Otsego, Lake and Elmwood all started the school year with students attending classes five days a week. North Baltimore started in a hybrid format but has since gone full time. Eastwood, Rossford and Perrysburg continue with a hybrid. Bowling Green is the only district in the county that started the school year online and continues doing so.

DeWine last week announced that Ohio is changing its guidance regarding quarantines following an in-classroom exposure in K-12 schools. Moving forward, students and teachers exposed to a COVID-positive person in school are no longer required to quarantine as long as the exposure occurred in a classroom setting and all students/teachers were wearing masks and following other appropriate protocols.

The change follows an evaluation of virus spread in Ohio schools conducted by researchers that shows no discernible difference in the risk of contracting the coronavirus between those in close contact with a COVID-positive person in the classroom and those who were farther away.

“This evaluation confirms for us that Ohio’s classrooms are a safe place for our students and that the commitment our schools have made to keeping kids safe in the classroom is working,” according to the governor’s website.

Jessica Swaisgood with BG VOICE, a grassroots organization that has pushed BGCS to return to in-person learning, is optimistic that the school board will decide Tuesday to return students to the classroom.

“Hybrid is a start,” she said. “We would take what we could get (but) I would still like to see our kids in school five days a week.”

Scruci said in October if the board decides to go with the hybrid model, students will be divided into A and B groups. Group A will attend in person Tuesdays and Wednesdays while Group B attends Thursdays and Fridays.

Mondays will continued to be used for deep cleaning the buildings, and allowing teachers to meet.

Face-to-face classes, five days a week would be a challenge as classrooms cannot accommodate the required 6-foot social distancing of desks, Scruci has previously said.

Swaisgood said that she does worry that district leaders will use the excuse of potential vaccines for school staff, which should be available March 1, to wait longer.

Her group will be unhappy if only elementary students return as established in the district’s coronavirus matrix.

“Parents are ready for their kids to be back in school.”

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