Four more schools change fall restart plans

Some schools commit to fully online start, others delay first day for now

Four more Dayton-area school districts changed the details of their school restart plans amid coronavirus concerns — two moving school online and two delaying their start dates.

Northmont and Jefferson Twp. schools announced students will start classes online this fall — Northmont on Sept. 1, and Jefferson on Sept. 8. Northmont’s commitment to online classes so far is through the first quarter, while Jefferson will stay online for the entire first semester.

“The decision was made with … feedback from the parents, staff, and community to determine the safest and healthiest scenario for our district,” Jefferson Twp. Superintendent Richard Gates said.

In Northmont’s statement, they referenced a second school employee testing positive for COVID-19, saying the number of cases continues to rise and “impact our own employees who are essential to the reopening of school.”

Meanwhile the Springboro and Fairborn school districts both announced they are delaying their first day of classes until Sept. 8, but are not moving to a fully online model at this point.

Springboro will make updates to its “previously announced learning model options” this week and will extend its deadline to sign up for the virtual school option to Aug. 14. Those changes will be finalized at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

New Springboro Superintendent Larry Hook said his new mantra is “adapt and change.” More changes could be coming in local schools, as Kettering’s school board discussed restart options Tuesday night, and the Centerville, Springboro, Miamisburg and Fairborn school boards meet Wednesday or Thursday.

Those meetings will come on the heels of Gov. Mike DeWine’s statewide order that all K-12 students wear masks in school, with very few exceptions. Mask-wearing has been a divisive issue according to school districts that have surveyed parent opinion.

Fairborn schools’ announcement to families Tuesday said their school board will formally vote Thursday to push the first day for teachers back to Aug. 27, and the first in-person day for students to Sept. 8.

“We will now begin the work of reworking master schedules, re-distributing students who will be attending in-person across classrooms, maximizing safety protocols in our buildings and on our buses, and determining what teacher support we can provide for students who have chosen the virtual option,” Fairborn’s statement said.

Gates said Jefferson Twp.‘s goal is a “rigorous and positive online learning experience.” Students will be taught by local teachers via the SchoolsPLP online platform that many local school districts are adopting.

Technology issues are a concern, but Gates said internet connectivity “hot spots” will be given to families who need them, and each student will get a Chromebook computer to ensure there’s no need for sharing of devices. Pickup of those materials is being scheduled for Sept. 1-4.

In Fairborn, school officials will continue to monitor both family responses to an online learning survey, as well as ongoing changes in the COVID-19 situation, citing “numerous factors that we simply can’t control.”

“If a decision needs to be made to change to an alternative restart plan, we will communicate it to everyone as soon as possible,” Fairborn school officials said.

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