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Schools delaying first day of classes to create training time

Social distancing — in hallways, on buses and in classrooms — will be a challenge if Ohio’s K-12 schools reopen in August. FILE PHOTO
Social distancing — in hallways, on buses and in classrooms — will be a challenge if Ohio’s K-12 schools reopen in August. FILE PHOTO

When to start school has become a big question of back-to-school season, and many communities are still making changes.

Numerous Dayton-area schools have delayed their first day of classes to allow time for staff training — health/safety training in places where students are returning in person, and technology training where districts are starting the school year with online learning.

ExploreBeavercreek pushes first day of classes back 11 days

Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day, has recently become a popular starting date in light of COVID-19 concerns, with Dayton, Miamisburg and Troy among the larger schools moving their start date back multiple weeks to that point. Troy Superintendent Chris Piper said training is not the only reason for the later start.

“It provides us some relief from the hottest weather,” Piper said. “Many of our buildings in Troy are not air conditioned, and wearing a face covering can be challenging when buildings are hot.”

Mad River, Valley View, Piqua, Milton-Union, Carlisle, Waynesville and Preble Shawnee are also scheduled to start Sept. 8. For Miamisburg, which is traditionally the first local district to return to classes (around Aug. 8), this school year will start a full month later than it did in 2019.

Dayton Public Schools first moved its start date back a week to Aug. 17, then this week pushed it back again to Sept. 8 when the district announced it would start the year fully online.

In a letter to staff, DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the district would offer paid training in August for teachers who need to improve their use of Zoom or Google Classroom software.

ExploreMiamisburg delays school year, asks parents about online learning

“Our staff who are a bit concerned about being virtual have an opportunity to do additional (training) with the curriculum team and others who are being brought in,” she said, referencing an Aug. 4-5 training with national speaker Anita Archer.

Beavercreek was on track to be the first large school district to start the 2020-21 academic year, but on Thursday, its school board pushed the first day of classes back 11 days, to Aug. 24.

“We’re not delaying because we think things are going to get better (by our start date), but delaying to give us more time in training,” Beavercreek Superintendent Paul Otten said Thursday.

The three NHA charter schools — Emerson, Pathway and North Dayton — appear to have the earliest “first day of classes” in the area, at Aug. 12, although their first day (and the whole first quarter) will be online.

ExploreDayton schools go online for at least the first quarter

Lebanon and Northmont schools are among the districts slated to start in-person classes the earliest, on Aug. 17-18. Kettering had planned to start then, too, but on Friday moved its start date back to Sept. 8.

Some Ohioans have advocated for years that school should start after Labor Day. But the one year it’s actually happening in many districts is year when many summer activities are limited by COVID-19 concerns.