Canal Winchester schools progressing to full-time in-person learning

Jack McLaughlin
ThisWeek
Canal Winchester High School rotunda

The Canal Winchester school district is phasing in a return to in-person learning five days a week. 

Starting March 22, students enrolled in the hybrid learning model – who previously attended classes in person twice a week in two separate groups – were brought back into school four days per week, with the exception being Wednesdays. Starting May 3, students will return to in-person classes five days a week for the remainder of  the school year. 

Students who opted for the Canal Winchester Online Learning Academy (CWOLA) will continue in that remote model. 

“A few of the reasons for the decision, if you have been watching the numbers in Ohio, we have been going down, Franklin county has been going down,” Superintendent James Sotlar said. “We saw a peak back in November-December, especially during the week of remote learning (just prior to winter break), but since the week of Jan. 25, our cases have been going down and been going down drastically, which is great.”  

According to information from the district, no staff members test positive for COVID-19 as of early March; only one student tested positive, with an additional 26 in quarantine. 

Canal Winchester Board of Education President Michael Yonnott said another reason the district wants to return to increased in-person learning is because of the quality of education it offers.  

“From experience as a teacher, we know that students in class, face-to-face in seats, works better,” he said. 

District officials also gave parents and students the option of switching to CWOLA if they were not comfortable with the current plans to expand in-person learning. District officials said 33 students, including 25 at the high school, opted to make the switch from hybrid learning to the online academy. 

Sotlar also noted that the transition to more in-person learning likely will not be seamless. While all students will be required to wear masks, socially distancing poses a unique problem. 

“Social distancing will be an issue,” he acknowledged. “Schools were not designed for social distancing. Three to six feet is going to be very challenging in some of our classrooms.  

“We’re going to do our best to maintain three feet of social distancing, but we’re going to have some rooms with a larger number of kids and I can’t guarantee that every second, every minute of the day or every period we’re going to have that,” he said. 

Sotlar said the district officials have been in talks with the Canal Winchester Education Association (CWEA) about the process of returning to in-person learning.  

CWEA representatives did not respond to requests for comment. 

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