Centerville, Dayton, Northmont plan return to schools; health guidelines may change



Centerville, Northmont and Dayton Public Schools have joined a growing list of area school districts planning to return to in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic as one local leader said health recommendations may soon get more encouraging.

Other districts, meanwhile, are getting residents’ feedback on face-to-face learning for the first time since March, when Ohio Gov Mike DeWine shutdown schools due to the coronavirus.

Recent indicators may signal a change to return to classes, Centerville Superintendent Tom Henderson said.

The “recommendation is changing now,” Henderson said Monday night in outlining Centerville’s plan.

“And the recommendation is to get students back in school in person. The written guidelines have not come out just yet,” he added.

Many Montgomery County superintendents recently talked with Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County Commissioner Jeff Cooper about a recommendation change, Henderson said. Another meeting is set for Thursday “and hopefully we’ll get those at that time,” he said.

Public health hasn’t changed its recommendation from remote learning yet, but “that’s not to say they won’t change in the future,” its Public Information Supervisor, Dan Suffoletto, said Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ll be using the best available data to evaluate what steps need to be taken in the future…’s a fluid situation,” he added.

Thursday is when a limited number of Dayton students will be back in school. Some Northmont students are set to return on Oct. 12 and Centerville students are due to report later that week, district officials said.

Centerville, Dayton and Northmont also plan to continue a remote learning option and stagger return plans, officials said.

Eleven local school districts started this fall fully online, and one - Huber Heights - has already started its staggered return to in-person school.

Of the other 10, five districts - Centerville, Dayton, Northmont, Northridge and Tecumseh - have announced they’ll return soon. Two others - Trotwood and Yellow Springs - are waiting on family survey results while Jefferson Twp. is staying online through the first semester.

Two – Kettering and West Carrollton - have not commented publicly on their next step.

If Dayton’s start goes well this week, a second group ― including English as a second language and special education students in self-contained classrooms ― would return Oct. 15, officials said.

Then starting Nov. 9, the vast majority of students would be on a hybrid plan in which they attend school in-person two days per week and continue working remotely the other days. Students who chose the remote option, but those families would have to commit to that model for the rest of the semester by Oct. 23.

Oct. 12 is when Northmont City Schools plans to begin its return, Superintendent Tony Thomas said Monday night.

Students at the Kleptz Early Learning Center will report to the building on that day. Students with last names that begin with A through K will attend in-person lessons on Monday and Tuesday, and remaining students with last names beginning with L through Z will report for in-person instruction on Thursday and Friday.

Thomas said all students will have Wednesday as a remote learning day.

Parents were asked to fill out a survey on Sept. 18 to choose their children’s learning preferences for the second quarter. Thomas said about 80% of their students chose to return to in-person learning.

The district has plans to execute proper COVID-19 protocol while the students are in the building.

Distancing and face covering requirements will be enforced, and some classes will likely be taught outside when feasible, said Jenny Wood, the districts public information officer. Students will also be served lunch at the schools.

A staggered schedule will be part of Centerville’s return before the second quarter starts Oct. 19, Henderson said. Should a coronavirus outbreak occur “because we have been in remote model….we’re prepared to pivot quickly,” he said.

Those choosing in-person instruction will begin transitioning Oct. 15-16, he said. K through 12 students with last names beginning with A-K will start Oct. 15 while those with last names L through Z will return Oct. 16, Henderson added.

Face coverings will be required for students and staff, and a premium will be put on maintaining protocols to help ensure public health and safety, Henderson said.

Students choosing face-to-face classroom time will do so on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday, while learning remotely on Wednesdays as the district is “working hard to a smooth transition,” Henderson said.

More information on issues such as lunches, transportation, class changes, dismissals will be forthcoming, he added.

Other district’s status includes:

•Northridge will conduct face-to-face classes two days a week starting on Oct. 19, then go full-time in-person Nov. 4.

•Tecumseh schools will have a hybrid model the week of Oct. 19, then in-person five days a week starting Oct. 26.

•The Dayton Leadership Academies charter school will have kindergarten through second-graders start a half in-person, half-remote model Oct. 19, with grades 3-8 staying remote for now.

•The Yellow Springs and Trotwood school districts said they will gauge the results of family surveys due this week before announcing plans for the second quarter.

•Kettering and West Carrollton schools have not announced their return to in-person plans yet, while Jefferson Twp. schools said this summer they’ll remain online through the first semester.

•The Dayton Regional STEM School will share its plan for the second quarter next week. The school, which has been doing online learning this fall, surveyed families and is having final discussions with staff and the school’s board this week. Spokeswoman Stephanie Adams Taylor said if the school does any type of in-person return, they’ll retain a fully online option for families who want it in the second quarter.

•The three Horizon Science Academy charter schools in the Dayton area continue to hold classes online, but a school spokesman said Tuesday that an update may come mid-next week after a school board meeting.