Dayton schools call emergency meeting to discuss DeWine school closure mandate

Gov. Mike DeWine announced an extended three-week spring break for Ohio K-12 schools, as part of the state’s plan to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The three-week break will begin at the close of school Monday and will be reviewed at the end of the break, April 3.

Mohamed Al-Hamdani, president of the Dayton Board of Education, has called for an emergency school board meeting at 1:30 p.m. Friday to discuss the district’s plans during the closure.

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The school district anticipated that schools might have to close and have been formulating plans to figure out ways to continue delivering other important services students receive, like multiple daily meals and physical and mental therapies, Al-Hamdani said.

“Many of our kids depend on a lot of different services that we provide in our buildings,” he said.

Al-Hamdani said he called for the emergency meeting this afternoon. He said he thought they might have slightly more time to make preparations.

“It seems it’s moving faster than they anticipated,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get it under control.”

He said they hope to use their “existing infrastructure” to continue to deliver meals and serve the district’s 12,000 students.

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He said the district has been working hard to try to keep students and the district’s more than 2,300 employees safe. He said this week they purchased $42,000 worth of hand sanitizer and recently did a hand-washing campaign in the schools.

Al-Hamdani said he’s worried about the hardship this will cause on families, who suddenly have to figure out child care arrangements.

“But the reality is we have to make sure they stay safe and avoid contact with this virus,” he said. “I think they’re taking the right measures.”

Al-Hamdani said making up three weeks will be very difficult – and the actual amount of time students will be out of schools could be longer.

This break comes during a key stage in testing preparation, which is unfortunate because Dayton Public Schools has been bouncing back academically, he said.

Hopefully measures to prevent large gatherings and limit social contact will work and will prevent the same kind of explosion in cases seen in some other parts of the world, he said.

“Academically speaking, it will be hard, and for a lot of families, it will be financially and mentally hard to go the next three weeks without school,” he said.

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