Delaware City Schools to resume hybrid model Jan. 11

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek

The Delaware City Schools board has approved a plan to resume in-classroom instruction Jan. 11 for students participating the district's hybrid instruction schedule.

The district uses a hybrid schedule for families that selected it; students rotate between classes in school buildings and remote learning at home. Families also could select an all-remote learning plan. Both are designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Delaware City Schools administrative offices, 74 W. William St.

For families choosing the hybrid model, students were divided into two cohorts. One would alternate between attending school three days and learning at home two days for one week, and the following week, they would attend school two days and learn remotely three days.

More:Delaware schools returning to online-only classes Nov. 30 to Dec. 18

As the pandemic grew in Ohio and the United States, the school board on Nov. 17 agreed students would be on an all-remote schedule when classes resume Jan. 4, which remains the plan for the first week after the holiday break.

Superintendent Heidi Kegley said the recommendation is based on increased ability to monitor COVID-19 cases locally and the ability to find substitute teachers.

A new component in the Ohio Department of Health's COVID-19 statistics identifies the number of new cases by ZIP code, Kegley said.

After the board’s Dec. 14 meeting, Delaware General Health District Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson said those numbers are online at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

"So using all of that, we will be able to update the board and our staff on a regular basis to see how we are progressing," Kegley said.

Instead of reacting to a one-day change in COVID-19 cases, the district now can gauge changes in local cases a week or two at a time "to make sure that what we're seeing is consistent," she said.

On Nov. 17, the board said the virus' spread in the general population ultimately could affect teachers and staff, keeping them at home and causing a classroom shortage.

On Dec. 14, Kegley referred to the proposed Senate Bill 388, which is designed to increase availability of substitute teachers by giving school districts increased discretion regarding substitutes' educational requirements. 

At least one recent graduate who has been student-teaching in the district will be available as a substitute in January, Kegley said.

"I say all of this the same way I said this summer. We're making a recommendation and decision possibly tonight based on what we know right now," she said before the school board's vote. “We do not know what the next few weeks hold. We do know it is important (to be safe), which we know we can do with the health and safety protocols we have in place to return to hybrid learning on Jan. 11."

In terms of the pandemic, the hybrid and remote options used since the school year started have proven effective, Kegley said.

"The health and safety protocols that we have in place that staff were enforcing and that students were following was working," she said. 

On Nov. 17, Hiddleson told the school board, "When the children are here, they're probably the safest they can be because you all are doing an amazing job" with social distancing and other safety precautions. 

 "We know that all of our staff and our teachers have done a remarkable job in hybrid (learning), the online learning academy and moving to all remote for all,” Kegley said Dec. 14. “We also know that our families and students have done a remarkable job, as they have needed to adjust as we have moved through those models. 

"We know that these are hard decisions. We also know that they affect our families in our staff in very different ways. But it's our job to make sure that we are making the best decisions for all," she added.

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