Kettering schools hopes to keep plans for in-person classes after Thanksgiving

Students returned this month to in-person classes at Orchard Park Elementary School in Kettering as the school district resumed face-to-face instruction for the first time since March.  MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Students returned this month to in-person classes at Orchard Park Elementary School in Kettering as the school district resumed face-to-face instruction for the first time since March. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

KETTERING – The largest Montgomery County school district yet to announce a change to in-person instruction plans amid rising COVID-19 cases hopes to maintain its schedule after Thanksgiving.

Kettering City Schools Superintendent Scott Inskeep said in an email the district – for now – is sticking to a timetable that includes an option for in-person instruction four days a week starting Nov. 30.

“We are still committed to returning to in-person learning for our students after Thanksgiving,” Inskeep said, noting the intent to keep the four-day a week option.

A district official said late Thursday afternoon no other changes are planned at this time. Since Nov. 9, Kettering has given students an option for in-person classes two days a week.

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Inskeep’s email to those connected with Kettering schools went out late Wednesday afternoon. It came hours after a stay-at-home advisory issued by Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County due a coronavirus case surge.

Inskeep also stated “the health and safety of our students, staff and families will continue to be a top priority, and we will continue to evaluate our plan for returning to in-person learning against county and state guidelines and advisories, as well as our ability to properly staff our classrooms.”

Kettering’s teachers’ union backed the plan the board of education approved last month. But Thursday afternoon it did not commit the same support.

While Kettering Education Association has been in “constant and continuing communications with school administration,” union President Karen Gouge’ said “as this information was just shared, it would be too early to comment on these new recommendations” by public health officials.

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The county’s two largest districts ahead of Kettering – Dayton and Centerville – have both said they plan to switch to remote-only classes after this week. Many other area districts have also altered plans.

Both Dayton and Centerville officials cited a spike in student and staff absences in ending all in-person classes beginning Monday.

Dayton will not have any instruction for six weeks while Centerville will have remote-only instruction until the district’s December holiday break, officials said.

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For nearly two weeks, Kettering has been offering two-day a week in-person instruction for the first time since March, when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered a school shutdown due to the coronavirus.

From Nov. 7-13, Kettering reported 27 confirmed coronavirus cases among students and staff. The district did not respond to an inquiry on the number of cases reported through Wednesday.

The district has also witnessed a shortage in bus drivers, an issue which predates the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

Kettering’s Thanksgiving break starts Monday. The plan calls for four-day in-person instruction to start Nov. 30 with a remote-only day for all students on Wednesdays.

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