COVID cases forcing several school districts to remote learning

Stebbins high school students prepare to board buses after their first day back to school Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Mad River school district had been doing online learning since last Thursday. MARSHALL GORBY \STAFF

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Stebbins high school students prepare to board buses after their first day back to school Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Mad River school district had been doing online learning since last Thursday. MARSHALL GORBY \STAFF

Multiple school districts are remote learning this week due to a surge in the number of staff and students out, the districts said.

Fairborn, Tipp City, Huber Heights, Lebanon high school and the Miami Valley Career Tech Center are teaching students online this week. The high number of absences among both staff and students and the lack of substitute workers — from bus drivers to teachers — is sending kids back to remote learning.

At Vandalia-Butler, Smith Middle School and Helke Elementary School will be closed to students today and are expected to reopen Thursday, the district said.

“We have taken a building-by-building approach to ensure we have adequate staffing throughout the district, and we plan to have everyone back this Thursday,” said Vandalia-Butler spokeswoman Mary Stephens.

Fairborn schools went virtual last week but Fairborn chose to continue remote learning for students through Friday.

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Fairborn spokeswoman Pam Gayheart said for grades pre-K through third, teachers were setting up Chromebooks Tuesday morning. Parents will later pick up the devices, she said. Breakfast and lunch will also be provided for pickup on Thursday and was provided Tuesday.

Gayheart said Fairborn chose to go online for a week instead of shutting down as students are already behind from virtual schooling in 2020, so taking off the week could set kids even further behind.

She praised Fairborn schools staff who have been putting together lesson plans and meals, but said she understood the difficulty for parents that the change in plans caused.

“They’ve got to go to work, and then they’ve got to figure out what to do with their kids,” Gayheart said. “So we get it. We just have to do the best we can.”

Huber Heights chose to send students from Valley Forge Elementary School to remote learning last week. Huber Heights extended virtual learning to all buildings beginning on Friday due to short staffing.

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“At this time, we just do not have the staff or substitute coverage to maintain a safe and quality in-person learning environment for our students,” Huber Heights wrote in a notice to families on Thursday.

Trotwood-Madison began conducting remote learning on Friday. The district is expected to reopen for in-person learning today, said Yolena Michaud, a spokesman for the district.

Nick Weldy, superintendent of the Miami Valley Career Tech Center, said the school is closed this week due to many absences that include both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 illnesses. The district is expected to return on Monday, Jan. 24.

Some districts were able to return to in-person learning on Tuesday. Northridge, which was remote beginning on Jan. 5, had its first day back in-person on Tuesday. Superintendent Dave Jackson said there were enough healthy staff members to continue in-person learning.

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“Parents, students and staff worked collaboratively to teach/learn remotely so things went fairly smoothly over the last two weeks,” Jackson said.

At Mad River, all but the elementary schools closed last Thursday and Friday due to staffing issues. Superintendent Chad Wyen said Tuesday, Mad River’s first day back, went well.

“We were able to cover everything today and are hopeful about the remainder of the week with the understanding that if we need to be flexible, we will,” Wyen said. “Our staff has done an amazing job working together through this surge and I am very proud of them for their tireless dedication to our students and families in Mad River Local Schools.”

Staff Reporter Aimee Hancock contributed.

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