Four schools will move to hybrid schedules as COVID surges

Bellbrook High School's Eagle mascot is decorated with a mask during classes earlier this fall. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Bellbrook High School's Eagle mascot is decorated with a mask during classes earlier this fall. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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The Bellbrook, Miami East and West Carrollton school districts, plus Carroll High School, all announced they will move to hybrid schedules, but the start dates and details differ.

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek

Bellbrook will switch to a hybrid system Tuesday, with students attending school two days a week and working remotely the other three days. That model will stay in place through Dec. 18, the last day before Christmas break. Students had been attending classes in-person five days a week.

Superintendent Doug Cozad said in a letter to families late Thursday that the district’s number of COVID-19 positive students and staff members has doubled. That has resulted in the quarantine of more than 250 students and 14 school staff in “the past week or so.”

ExploreWhich schools are online? In-person? Check our list

“By only having half of our students at school each day, we can properly social distance, thus the number of students and staff that have to quarantine will drop dramatically,” Cozad said.

Echoing what Gov. Mike DeWine and several health officials have said, Cozad said that Bellbrook is not seeing noticeable COVID spread inside the schools.

Many students and staff get infected outside school, then have contact with people at school before they realize they are positive. That leads to significant quarantine requirements, which Cozad called “the biggest negative impact on both students and staff.”

Bellbrook High School was closed Friday, and all Bellbrook school buildings will be closed Monday for a staff training day before the new model begins Tuesday. Like all of the affected schools, Bellbrook apologized to families for the impact on their schedules and child-care needs, and asked people for patience amid a changing pandemic.

“We believe going hybrid and having a few days of (teacher-student) interaction a week is better than going remote. We believe if we didn’t act now, we would be forced to go remote very soon,” Cozad said.

West Carrollton

West Carrollton schools have seen the most changes of any local district this fall. They started fully online, then brought students back in-person starting on Oct. 19. This week, the district moved back online, citing a rapid increase of students and staff in quarantine.

ExploreMAP: How does your zip code's COVID infection rate compare?

Now the district has announced that it will begin a hybrid model — two days a week in-person, three days remote learning — starting Nov. 30, with the intention to stay with that plan through the end of the third quarter March 12.

A news release from the district said officials considered COVID infection rates, high quarantine numbers, social distancing, limited substitute staff, and “continuity of instruction” for students in making the decision.

Starting Nov. 30, students with A-K last names will attend Monday and Wednesday, while L-Z last names will attend Tuesday and Thursday. All students will learn remotely on Fridays. Some special education or English learner students will get notice of exceptions affecting them.

Miami East

Miami East schools will operate on a hybrid plan for the week of Nov. 16, with students in-person 2-3 days a week, due to Miami County moving to the more serious “red” health alert level.

Miami East students with last names beginning with A-J will attend in-person Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with other students in-person Tuesday and Thursday.

The district said its plan for Nov. 23-24 (the two days before Thanksgiving break) will be determined by the county alert level that is updated next Thursday.

ExploreOCTOBER: Carroll goes online for two weeks due to COVID quarantines

Carroll High School

Carroll High School will move to a hybrid model for the two weeks after Thanksgiving, as well as for exams the week of Dec. 14, citing the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Keeping our community healthy and safe is always our number one priority, but we are balancing that with the need to reach our curriculum goals and take final exams,” Carroll Principal Matt Sableski said.

For the weeks of Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, half of students will be in-person Monday and Thursday (the Baltimore, Charity and Gonzaga “houses,” with the other half going Tuesday and Friday. All students will be required to log in to classes online the other days.

For exam week, students will be separated into morning and afternoon groups by the school’s “house” system.

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