Kettering schools return plan aims to ‘turn the tide’ with COVID-19

Kettering schools had initially planned to begin in-person instruction earlier this fall for the first time since March, when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shut down schools due to the coronavirus.  MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
Kettering schools had initially planned to begin in-person instruction earlier this fall for the first time since March, when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shut down schools due to the coronavirus. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

Credit: MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

Credit: MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

KETTERING – Survey results show two-thirds of parents of Kettering school district students want a return to in-person instruction, part of a plan approved this week.

The hybrid approach passed 4-0 by the Kettering board of education Tuesday night calls for options that include four-day, face-to-face learning phased in starting next month.

That method is favored by 69% of secondary students' parents responding to surveys, 67% of those with kids in K-5 and a “vast majority” of teachers, district officials said. Kettering is one of Montgomery County’s largest school districts.

Having in-person instruction most of the time was “supported by our teachers, (and) was affirmed … by the preference of our parents,” thousands of whom responded, said Dan VonHandorf, the district’s assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

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The survey responses will continue through Friday, but “we feel very confident that these will continue” to follow a similar trend, Superintendent Scott Inskeep said.

To be successful, Inskeep stressed that the plan to have students returning to classes for the first time since March must follow public health protocols.

“We have to be good leaders,” Inskeep told the school board. “We have to present ourselves that way and help us just turn the tide here and get our kids back in school and make sure it’s safe” for all involved.

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The plan includes three options that would have students resuming in-person learning amid the coronavirus on different schedules, starting Nov. 9 as the second quarter begins. They include:

•Option 1: In-person four days a week, one day of remote learning.

•Option 2: Hybrid two days a week in-person, three days a week remote.

•Option 3: Remote learning.

Survey results show 17% of parents of Kettering secondary students favored the hybrid option and 14% remote-only instruction, VonHandorf said.

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K-5 parents responding to the survey favored hybrid learning by 22% and 11% remote only, he added.

The in-person options would start with preschool students returning Nov. 9, according to the district.

Both the elementary and secondary schools will follow a hybrid regimen from Nov. 9-20 before returning for four days a week starting Nov. 30, according to the plan.

“A vast majority of our teachers want to come back to school,” VonHandorf said. “They want to see their kids. They miss the kids. And particularly, they want that to happen after Thanksgiving break.”

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The Kettering Education Association, the teachers' union, this summer opposed returning to in-person instruction when school resumed Sept. 8. But KEA President Karen Gouge' has said “teachers have always wanted to be in the classroom, now we see that it can be done safely.”

With the hybrid transition, elementary students with the last names A-K will be in buildings Mondays and Thursdays while learning from home on Tuesdays, and Fridays, the plan states.

Students with the last names L-Z will be in buildings Tuesdays and Fridays and learning from home on Mondays, and Thursdays.

Middle school students with the last names A-K and high school students in Central and East will be in buildings Mondays and Thursdays while learning from home on Tuesdays and Fridays, according to the plan.

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Middle school students with the last names L-Z and high school students in South and West will be in the buildings Tuesdays and Fridays and learning from home on Mondays and Thursdays.

All K-12 students will have remote learning days on Wednesdays, allowing more time to clean facilities, VonHandorf said.

The new plan will continue through the rest of the second quarter, Inskeep said. However, he said the holiday break in late December will allow officials “to assess and analyze” if instruction changes are needed.

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