Popularity of Kettering schools in-person choice a factor in move for remote classes

A Kettering City Schools survey showed More than two-thirds of parents responding to a Kettering schools survey favored students returning in-person to classes. FILE
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A Kettering City Schools survey showed More than two-thirds of parents responding to a Kettering schools survey favored students returning in-person to classes. FILE

Credit: TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF

KETTERING – More than two-thirds of parents responding to a Kettering schools survey favored students returning in-person to classes.

That survey was taken before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s designated Montgomery County a red alert level 3 public health emergency and local public health officials recommended virtual learning, according to the school district.

DeWine’s designation for the county and Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County’s advice were factors in the board of education’s unanimous decision Friday to start the first nine weeks of the school year with remote classes beginning Sept. 8 for the estimated 7,900 students, officials said.

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Kettering Superintendent Scott Inskeep said a doctor who was part of a DeWine presentation last week listed four items - masking, social distancing, assuring good hand hygiene and cleaning surfaces – in order of importance for districts to return to in-person classes safely.

“There just would be no way to assure social distancing – the second most important strategy….in the majority of our buildings,” Inskeep stated on the district’s website.

Survey results showed 74.28% of parents of high students wanted face-to-face instruction, while ratios for those of middle school students (71.85%) and elementary students (67.56%) were slightly smaller, according to the district.

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The district received 6,919 survey responses, but some completed the survey more than once, said Kari Basson, community relations coordinator.

For instance, the district has 3,230 elementary students, but received 3,446 elementary responses, she said.

After DeWine’s designation change for the county and PHDMC’s recommendation, some parents switched their preference to remote learning, but those figures are not available, according to the district.

Yet Inskeep said Friday the “volume” parents favoring a return to in-person factored into his thought that the school district could not meet social distancing guidelines

“So you might say is that going to be any different in nine weeks?” he said.

“What I think that we hope we can continue to do is to see this trend – or this spike – in our county goes to a different color and therefore it doesn’t stop our rationale behind wearing a mask, being careful, washing hands,” Inskeep said. “But it does give us a better idea about protocols and how successful we can be.”

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In a separate Kettering Education Association survey, about 66% of teachers in the district said they favored remotely learning due to safety reasons, said Karen Gouge, president of the KEA, the teachers’ union.

Kettering schools initially offered both an in-person and an online option to students. Officials said small groups of students who require face-to-face time - special needs, career technology center students and those needing counseling, among them - will be among those permitted in buildings on a limited basis.

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