Delaware City Schools announced its tentative plans to reopen next month and unveiled a hybrid model of in-person and online classes for the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Heidi Kegley discussed the “Healthy Restart Plan” with the Delaware City Schools Board of Education Monday evening during its regular meeting.
Kegley said the district would return on Aug. 14 for professional development for staff in the areas of anti-racism, diversity, inclusiveness, online learning platforms and online lesson development.
Students would begin classes Aug. 31. They would attend school in-person for two days each week and work online the other three — or vice versa, and attend in-person three days a week and work online the other two. Kegley said these models ensures that there are only about 50% of students in each building at a time to allow for rigorous cleaning and social distancing.
Kegley said the district would require face masks for all staff and students. She said there would be mask breaks for the “youngest learners” at the district. She also said the district will be following CDC guidelines throughout the district to keep everything as safe as possible.
There will also be an online-only academy offered to any student who does not feel comfortable attending in-person classes. Kegley said the online academy will be “more robust” than the remote learning that took place in spring.
She added the plan is tentative and dependent on how the outbreak is being handled in Delaware County.
“While we recognize that the conditions surrounding the pandemic can change at any moment, we believe it is important for our families to plan for the 2020-2021 school year,” Kegley said.
Director of Communications Jennifer Ruhe said Tuesday the plan was formulated by administration after seeking feedback and suggestions from more than 100 staff members. Ruhe said staff will be given an online presentation over the summer and will begin to work with their building principals to develop plans that are specific to each building.
Ruhe clarified that students who opt-into the virtual academy instead of in-person classes are “still part of Delaware City Schools” and remain students in their buildings.
“Our families are encouraged to make the decision that is best for their family and their child(ren),” Ruhe said. “We will be working with families to answer their questions and provide guidance and support.”
Ruhe added that the special education department will be working with families to address the specific needs of students with disabilities.
PJ Terry, co-president of the Delaware City Schools Teacher Association, one of the teachers unions in the district, submitted a statement during the meeting and said teachers want to be with students when school starts, but know they are putting themselves at risk by returning to school.
“I know the board will consider the health and safety of the whole staff and students upon our return to school,” Terry said. “Masks are a must, air circulation is a must, rigorous cleaning is a must and strict social distancing is a must. DCTA wants what is best for our whole community … I believe the plan being delivered to the board tonight represents the best possible start with the information and guidance we currently possess.”
The district will host an online presentation to discuss the plan with families Wednesday at 6 p.m. A link will be on the district’s website at www.dcs.k12.oh.us/.
Ruhe and the board also stressed that the plan is based on current information and is subject to change based on the current status of the pandemic.
“We will continue to monitor the ever-changing and evolving pandemic and adjust our learning models accordingly,” Ruhe said. “We will continue to work with our local health officials. We do not know what our conditions may be in six weeks, but we are working to plan for the start of the school year based on what we know today.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.