The Buckeye Valley Local School District announced Tuesday its plans to return to school for the 2020-21 academic year. Similar to what Olentangy Local Schools announced Monday, Buckeye Valley’s initial plans will have its students in classrooms for all five school days at the start of the year, with the option of a dedicated remote learning platform for parents electing not to send their children back to classrooms.
Under the “Barons are Back” model, students will either return in full to in-person instruction or start their online classes beginning Monday, Aug. 31. The first day of school had originally been scheduled for Aug. 19, but the additional time will allow for staff to adjust to the new protocol, the district states in a press release.
The week prior to the start of school, the district’s intent is to phase in the student body to allow students to get used to the new routines and protocol. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 25-26, half the student body will go to school, followed by the other half on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 27-28. Superintendent Andy Miller said the week won’t be academic so much as it will be a test run so that students aren’t showing up on the first day of school without any idea what to expect.
For students electing to return to physical classrooms, there will be several health guidelines implemented. According to the press release, those guidelines include the required use of face coverings and hand sanitizers, limited seating on district buses, daily parental health assessments, expanded lunchrooms, increased cleaning protocols, and designated traffic patterns in hallways.
“The ‘Barons Are Back’ model allows our students and staff to return to the classrooms where we know most students perform better,” Miller states in the press release. “We have worked hard to sanitize our buildings and implement procedures to meet the guidelines established by the state of Ohio to ensure a safe environment for our students and staff.”
Like Olentangy, Buckeye Valley’s plans for the school year are subject to change based on the “Risk Level” designations passed down by Gov. Mike DeWine. Currently, Delaware County falls under a level two designation, but should the county be increased to level three, the model would shift to a hybrid platform where students would alternate between in-class and online learning. Students will be preassigned days for which they will either go to a physical classroom or do their classwork at home.
In the event the county is moved to a level four designation, all students will shift to online learning until the level is decreased. Students who opt into the dedicated online structure can do so on a semester by semester basis. Each student will receive a district Chromebook and will still be eligible for extracurricular activities.
“We realize that some of our families may not feel comfortable sending their students back to the classroom five days a week, and we felt it was important to provide those families with an option to the in-class instruction,” Miller stated. “Online learning is a new opportunity, and we are very excited as a district to launch the dedicated online option for our students.”
Asked if teachers will be given the option to opt into teaching remotely, Miller told The Gazette that their expectation is for all staff to return to their classrooms. However, he added that much of that depends on how many students elect to opt into the dedicated online model. For teachers who have health complications or are at an increased risk of contracting the virus, Miller said the district will “work with them.”
Buckeye Valley Local Schools states in the release that a survey of district families in the summer revealed that approximately 80% of families who participated were interested in having their students return to the traditional in-person instruction. The remaining families expressed interest in providing their students with the opportunity to learn from home.
“We believe that the options we are providing to our families go a long way in addressing the needs of our families while keeping the safety of our students and staff at the forefront,” Miller states in the release.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.