Jefferson Twp. schools first to move full semester online

Jefferson Twp. Superintendent Richard Gates announced Monday that the district will offer online-only classes for the entire first semester, and is canceling sports and extra-curricular activities for this fall.

Several local districts are starting the school year online, but most have only made that commitment for the first quarter, or in the case of Huber Heights, for a few weeks, depending on grade level.

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Jefferson is the first local district to move the full first semester online, as schools weigh the health risks of in-person school against the educational and social risks of remote learning in a more isolated approach.

“The decision was made with the aid of collaboration with other Montgomery County School districts and feedback from the parents, staff, and community to determine the safest and healthiest scenario for our district,” Gates said in Monday’s announcement.

Jefferson Twp. Local Schools, sitting just west and southwest of the city of Dayton, is the smallest school district in the Dayton area, with just over 300 students. In recent years, the district has struggled with teacher staffing levels and student departures for other schools and districts.

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Gates said the first day of online classes this fall will be Sept. 8, with the goal of a “rigorous and positive online learning experience.” Students will be taught by Jefferson Twp. teachers via the SchoolsPLP online platform that many local school districts are adopting.

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.

Jefferson followed on the heels of Dayton and Trotwood schools in canceling fall sports and extra-curricular activities — a move Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County recommended on Friday.

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“We are hopeful that the COVID- 19 case numbers in Montgomery County will decrease to the point that we can consider other options in the near future,” Gates said.

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