Coronavirus: Area schools return from holiday break in multiple forms

Some are in-person this week and others online; some are splitting their plans by grade level



Most area K-12 schools are returning to classes this week after winter break, but many have tweaked their schedules to allow for staff training time, or to delay in-person exposure after families got together for the holidays.

Tipp City, Carlisle and Dayton Christian are among a handful of schools where in-person students went straight back to face-to-face classes five days a week on Monday. But a majority of local districts are starting classes online, or delaying their restart slightly. And nearly all schools continue to offer a fully online second-semester option to families who want it.

In Brookville, the district gave students two extra days off Monday and Tuesday off so staff could clean, and so teachers could plan for both in-person classes and remote lessons for those quarantining. In-person students will return to the school buildings Wednesday.

“We know that individuals who have contracted COVID-19 most typically show symptoms in the first 3-5 days. Coming off New Year’s Eve festivities, this allows for the five-day window of concern,” Brookville Superintendent Tim Hopkins said of the two-day delay. “We want to emphasize that if your child has any symptoms during this time, you keep them at home.”

Several districts started classes Monday, but in online-only fashion for the next week or more.

Miamisburg, Northmont, Springboro and Milton-Union are fully online this week and hope to bring some or all students back in-person Jan. 11. Centerville, Huber Heights and Oakwood are fully online the next two weeks and hope to return in-person on Jan. 19, after the Martin Luther King holiday.

Xenia schools plan to stay online until Feb. 1, and Dayton Public Schools will keep the majority of their students online through Feb. 19.

Vandalia-Butler schools made a big adjustment, cancelling classes for this entire week, to give teachers five preparation and planning days. The district was in-person all fall, and Superintendent Rob O’Leary said school staff “had to reach and stretch in so many different ways.”

About 45% of the district’s first-semester online students are returning to in-person classes in January, and O’Leary said this week will give teachers time to connect with them, to make the transition easier. Some high school students will use these days to take makeup exams that they missed due to quarantine in December.

Vandalia-Butler will go back to in-person school five days a week Jan. 11 for those students who want it.

“We have done our very best to offer options and choices that best fit our families’ needs,” O’Leary said.

Other districts have complex, multi-step processes for returning to school. In Beavercreek, grades K-5 are hybrid this week (2 days in-person, 3 days remote), then they go back to fully in-person Jan. 11. Grades 6-12 are fully online this week, then would go hybrid the week of Jan. 11 and then fully in-person Jan. 19.

Not all local Catholic schools are following the same playbook. Alter High School went back fully in-person Monday, while Carroll is on a hybrid plan this week, and Chaminade Julienne is fully remote this week, but will return to regular in-person mode Jan. 11.

The largest local charter schools are online this week, with DECA returning to a hybrid model Jan. 11, and Imagine Klepinger and Dayton Leadership Academies doing the same Jan. 19. The three NHA charter schools (Emerson, Pathway and North Dayton) are online this week, with grades K-5 going back five days a week Jan. 11, and grades 6-8 going to a hybrid model that day.

And in all cases, if schools learned one thing from the fall, it’s that plans are subject to change if the situation with the COVID-19 virus gets notably better or worse.

After spending all fall in a remote-learning mode, Yellow Springs schools is planning to start in-person classes two days a week Jan. 19. But Superintendent Terri Holden kept caution in mind.

“Everything is dependent upon our meeting our identified (COVID) metrics in our plan,” she said.

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