Decision time for schools, parents amid tough choices

Betty Clark, a custodian for Beavercreek Schools, disenfects a pre-school classroom with a chlorination gun. Beavercreek schools have used the guns for over a year. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Betty Clark, a custodian for Beavercreek Schools, disenfects a pre-school classroom with a chlorination gun. Beavercreek schools have used the guns for over a year. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit:

Credit:

School reopening plans are changing rapidly

If the 2020-21 school year had a theme song, it would probably be The Clash’s old punk rocker, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Education leaders have faced indecision this summer on whether school should be online or in-person as the COVID-19 pandemic continues this fall.

ExploreNorthmont school employee tests positive for COVID-19
  • State health and education officials had multiple delays and eventually released guidance rather than firm rules on masks and distancing, leaving most decisions up to local schools.
  • Medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics first stated that the goal should be “having students physically present in school.” But they had to clarify after some trumpeted that goal while downplaying schools’ need for time and resources to open safely.
  • Local schools — big and small, urban and rural — revealed in-person return-to-school models early this summer. But as infection rates climbed, plans that one day seemed fine, were suddenly turned back, as Dayton, Huber Heights, Yellow Springs and others switched to online school.
ExploreDayton Public Schools to go fully online for first quarter

“Every communication we’ve had with our families, we’ve said this is a fluid situation,” said Brookville schools Superintendent Tim Hopkins, whose district still expects to open schools Aug. 19. “It could still change at any moment and we have to be prepared to change.”

In short, schools haven’t dealt with restarting school during an active pandemic before, and with medical guidance still evolving, it’s hard to make decisions. But one way or another, schools and parents now have to decide.

Parents face deadlines and have to let schools know whether their children will return to school. But a host of logistical questions remain. When should schools start? Can students ride the bus safely? How will they navigate a full classroom, a crowded cafeteria or an end-of-day hallway?

For a detailed look at schools’ approaches, see Page AXX, and our online guide to start dates and COVID-19 plans at DaytonDailyNews.com/back-to-school.

Back To School

Let the Dayton Daily News be your guide to the new school year and all of the challenges districts face in this coronavirus pandemic. All this month and throughout the school year, count on us to be a one-stop source at daytondailynews.com/back-to-school.

— We will feature educators at area schools, staring with today’s first profile. See Page B1

— This week we investigate the mental health issues facing students and teachers returning during the pandemic.

— Next Sunday, we dig into how schools will monitor student and staff health.

In Other News