Delaware City Schools: Return to hybrid model brought 'tons of excitement'
It was a good morning when students returned to Delaware City Schools buildings Jan. 11 after a long absence, said district public-information officer Jennifer Ruhe.
"I have to tell you both students and staff seemed super elated this morning. They were very excited to see each other. I think a lot of energy in the building. Tons of energy, tons of excitement and tons of smiles," Ruhe said.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the district began the school year with a hybrid curriculum schedule for the families who had selected it.
Participating students rotated between classes in school buildings and remote learning at home. Families also could select an all-remote learning plan.
As the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in November around Ohio and the nation, the Delaware school board decided the district would go to all-remote learning effective Nov. 30.
Students didn't return to classes in the buildings until Jan. 11.
On Dec. 14, the school board voted to resume classes after the holiday break Jan. 4 with all-remote learning and resume the hybrid and all-remote options Jan. 11.
Superintendent Heidi Kegley revisited the plan at the board's Jan. 4 meeting, recommending the district follow through with the hybrid model's return.
“We know that our health and safety protocols that we’ve had in place are working. We know that our families are supportive of following those protocols," Kegley said in her update to the board.
She also said families were following COVID-19 precautions during recent sporting events.
“We know that everyone is committed to our students being in school, safe and participating in the extracurricular activities,” she said. “It will be extremely important that when we return from this extended break that we not be lax in any of those protocols that we have established or need to follow.”
In December, she told the school board the planned return to the hybrid model was based in part on the improved ability to monitor the local spread of COVID-19 cases because the Ohio Department of Health had started listing the cases by ZIP code.
On Jan. 4, she said updated data would continue to be provided to board members each week.
"We will begin looking at our staff attendance and student attendance and seeing what the rest of this week brings. And if we need to make an adjustment, we will need to make that adjustment." she told the board.
Board member Jayna McDaniel-Browning agreed the hybrid model should return.
"I've been following the data, too, and even as numbers have gone up in Delaware County, within our Delaware City Schools community, our numbers have stayed level or even gone down a little bit. I think we should thank all of our Delaware City Schools families for doing the right thing" and taking precautions against the virus, she said.
Anticipating the vaccination of the school staff against the virus, Kegley said, she expects the Delaware Public Health District will be able to administer the vaccine in the school buildings, as it has done routinely with flu shots.
Health commissioner Shelia Hiddleson said Delaware Public Health District, by the way, is the new name being adopted in phases by what has been called the Delaware General Health District.
Hiddleson on Jan. 4 said the district was working to complete the initial phase of the vaccinations, which includes health-care workers and those living and working in congregate-living settings.
The health district is prepared to conduct future vaccinations, including mass clinics, as future vaccination phases are rolled out, Hiddleson said.
A Dec. 23 Ohio Department of Health news release quoted Gov. Mike DeWine as saying an upcoming vaccination phase will include school workers, with the goal of having schools fully open by March 1.
Also during the school board's Jan. 4 meeting, Francis O’Flaherty was elected board president and Michael Wiener vice president, both for 2021.