Officials at Dayton Christian School say they plan to return all students to their Miami Twp. campus full-time on Aug. 19 for the 2020-21 school year.
In a statement Tuesday, Head of School John Gredy said DC must be ready for a hybrid model of both in-school and at-home education in case there are unforeseen circumstances surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, but for now, the school is moving ahead.
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“We wouldn’t be wise leaders if we didn’t prepare for every scenario,” Gredy said. “However, we are confident in our plan and committed to giving our students a fall return as close to normal as possible.”
Dayton Christian serves 850 students in preschool through high school, including a homeschool group.
School spokeswoman Julie Thompson said the school’s Return to Community Plan is still a work in progress, but added that it’s “pretty robust in terms of detail.”
Thompson said based on guidelines available this week, DC will not require students to wear masks, but the school will allow students and parents to make their own choice based on what makes them most comfortable.
“We understand there may be times throughout the day in which students will benefit from wearing a mask while in small group instruction or activities that place them in close proximity with one another,” Thompson said.
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Both the federal Centers for Disease Control and Ohio’s own Reset & Restart plan for schools recommend having students and staff wear masks when feasible. The CDC says masks are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected.
Thompson said faculty and students could have different mask policies, and the school is looking at the possibility of clear face shields for teachers if face coverings are required.
In Ohio, no one under the age of 20 has died of COVID-19, according to Ohio Department of Health data. One concern for schools is the possibility that a full return could spread the virus to older teachers and staff, or to students’ older relatives at home, who may be at higher risk.
DC says it will spend up to $200 per student on “disinfectant systems” and other efforts to create a safe school environment. Students will start the year having lunch in their classrooms to avoid larger gatherings of students in the cafeteria.
Thompson said social distancing given the limits of classroom size should not be a problem.
“We have tested and determined that with the number of students we normally place in our classrooms, which is 20 or fewer, we will be able to maintain social-distance guidelines,” she said.
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Several states have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases after “reopening”various businesses and activities. Ohio’s case numbers declined in late May and early June, and have held fairly steady for the past week.
Thompson said Dayton Christian will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and local health agencies and make changes as necessary. But the school is also focused on the “community” aspect of the plan’s name.
“A student’s absence from daily in-person instruction and community cannot be discounted,” Gredy said. “Our students’ ongoing educational needs are of the utmost priority, but we cannot overlook the impact the recent crisis has had on each child’s emotional and social well-being. Our students need a full-time return to the community they love now more than ever before.”
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