Pickerington Schools to move forward with hybrid reopening – for now

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Despite a recent recommendation from Fairfield County Health Department that county school districts should not hold in-person classes and cancel all extracurricular activities this fall, Pickerington Schools’ leaders have confirmed the district intends to reopen buildings to students and staff under a hybrid system.

Superintendent Chris Briggs said during a July 27 Pickerington School Board meeting the district will continue to evaluate the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as take guidance from state and local health department officials, as well as Gov. Mike DeWine.

In the interim, he said, the district plans to proceed with a reopening plan the school board approved July 13. Classes in the district are scheduled to begin Aug. 24.

Under the reopening plan, the 2020-21 school year would begin under a "hybrid" model that would see teachers, staff and students wearing face masks and students attending in-building classes twice a week, and completing their lessons via online instruction the other three days.

Students also would have the option of enrolling in the district's Virtual Learning Academy, whereby they would take all of their classes for the year via online programs.

“We think we have a really good plan in place,” Briggs said. “At this point in time, what we are planning to do is move forward with our hybrid plan.

“We know things could change between now and Aug. 24.”

Briggs said the district could reevaluate its reopening plans following announcements that are expected this week from Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health as well as DeWine.

“Our No. 1 priority, as we said in the very beginning, is the health and safety of our staff and students,” he said.

Board members didn’t take additional action on the building reopening plans at the July 27 meeting, but noted they could amend plans pending further guidance or directives from DeWine or area health departments.

“It’s such an unknown,” board member Cathy Olshefski said. “We just take it one day at a time.”

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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