Details are being finalized regarding how instruction will be delivered in the Westerville City School District for the 2020-21 school year, with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in mind.
Superintendent John Kellogg said the decision involves many layers.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on July 2 announced new guidance for resuming school in August.
The newly issued guidance report advises schools to vigilantly assess virus symptoms, wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread, thoroughly clean and sanitize the school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces, practice 6-foot distancing and implement a face-coverings policy.
“We have to make sure the plans we put into place help remove barriers to learning and not create new obstacles for students and families,” Kellogg said.
“Plus we also want to make sure we have flexibility built into our plans because if conditions change – which they very well may – we would likely need to transition to a different model during the year.”
He said that transition could be at the district level or even down to the individual classroom level depending upon the situation at hand.
“I want to thank our parents and guardians, as well as our staff, for their continued patience and thoughtful feedback as we work through the final details of our plan,” Kellogg said.
As one might imagine, he said, the opinions he has heard run the range of “open up school as normal” to “continue distance learning until there’s a vaccine.”
“Somewhere between those two extremes is the answer, and we know the answer isn’t going to be perfect for everyone,” he said.
“However, I want to assure everyone that the safety of our children and staff remains a top priority, as does ensuring a quality education for our students regardless of how their instruction is delivered over the coming school year.”
Greg Viebranz, executive director of communications and technology, said district teams continue their work on what the opening of school will look like, and they’re close to putting the finishing touches on those details.
He said face coverings for staff members is a state requirement, so the district will be complying with that new regulation. The order was issued by the Ohio Department of Health, requiring people to wear face coverings in public places effective July 8 for counties designated a Red Alert (Level 3) on the coronavirus severity scale.
Franklin County has been at Alert 3. The edict does not apply to children under age 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering. Before the July 8 mandate, Viebranz said, the state did strongly recommend children should wear face coverings while on the bus and while in school.
“We’re still having some discussions about that aspect of the plan and working out a few final details,” he said.
“There’s a lot of focus on the safety of students, but we also can’t lose sight of the safety of our staff. That’s also a key consideration in all of our planning.”