As schools reopen medical professionals providing guidance to Dublin

SARAH SOLE
ssole@thisweeknews.com
Fifth-grade teachers Michelle Cooper (right) and Molly Love go through team planning exercises with fellow teachers Aug. 20 at Hopewell Elementary School in preparation for the 2020-21 school year.

Dublin City Schools officials are looking to the medical community to help them make informed decisions about student activities as the school year unfolds.

Classes for the district's 2020-21 school year began Aug. 24 with instruction via a remote-learning format initially. District officials have said they hope to be able to transition to a hybrid format of in-classroom and remote learning.

The district's school board Aug. 10 set parameters for five committees related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Each committee will include four to six members in medical professions, said Superintendent Todd Hoad-ley. Most are Dublin residents, he said.

"It would be foolish not to leverage their expertise," Hoadley said.

According to the district website, the committees will oversee:

* Data and metrics to identify and track performance indicators to be used by the school board to determine how to transition students from a 25% in-classroom model (orientation mode) to a 50% in-classroom mode (hybrid mode)

* Protocols to establish and refine, like temperature checks and symptom screening

* Extracurricular activities

* Wellness and mental health

* Community education to help inform the district's families about medical information from the county.

Hoadley said a district staff member likely would be chairman of each committee and provide a report at school board meetings.

Dublin resident Naveen Singri said he would help Hoadley oversee the committees.

Singri is a nephrologist who works for a private practice affiliated with OhioHealth. He has four children in the district: Roshan, 17, is a senior at Dublin Coffman High school; Kiran, 14, is a freshman at Coffman; Chethan, 12, is a seventh-grader at Sells Middle School; and Anya, 7, is a second-grader at Bailey Elementary School.

With data and science surrounding the pandemic changing on a weekly basis, keeping up with the changing expertise is challenging for health-care professionals, Singri said.

"This virus is something we've never encountered before," he said.

Having health-care pro-viders invested in Dublin offering their expertise and experience will be helpful, Singri said, especially because they've been developing and executing safety protocols for five months during the pandemic.

That experience, Singri said, will be helpful as the district begins reopening school.

Medical professionals could include pediatricians, primary-care physicians, ER doctors, and specialists, he said, and all would have seen a different side of the pandemic. Committees and their volunteers could change over time, Singri said.

"I think it's going to be a situation in flux," he said.

One such group volunteer is Concord Township resident Matt Kunar. He is a family physician with OhioHealth and serves on the district's business advisory council.

Kunar will serve on the data and metrics committee, analyzing information to help decide what learning model is best for students as the year progresses and statistics change.

Kunar, who also serves as the director of medical education at Dublin Methodist Hospital, has two students in the district: Maxwell, 8, is a third-grader at Eli Pinney Elementary School. Sophie, 11, is a sixth-grader at Grizzell Middle School.

Kunar said he would look at data from the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County Public Health, OhioHealth and John Hopkins University.

He said he plans to examine trends in the number of cases, hospitalizations, emergency-room visits, ICU ventilator use and deaths.

If there's an increase in cases, Kunar said, he will help board members identify key drivers of the increase -- if they are associated with such educational institutions as K-12 schools or the Ohio State University, for example.

"Every move we make, I think we have to be mindful of the changes that can occur in the numbers and be humbled by the fact that we don't know everything," Kunar said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah

Hopewell Elementary School educational paraprofessionals Mariana Wittich (left) and Valerie Bomar stock the school library's shelves with books Aug. 20 in preparation for 2020-21 school year. Classes in Dublin began with an online, remote-learing instruction format Aug. 24. District officials have said they hope to be able to transition to a hybrid format of in-classroom and remote learning.