Grandview Heights Schools students to return to class full time March 15

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

The Grandview Heights Schools board on Feb. 22 voted during a special meeting to return to full-day, in-person classes beginning March 15.

The board voted 4-1 on a resolution that also offered the option of waiting until March 29 to switch from the district's current hybrid model.

Grandview Heights High School

Board member Molly Wassmuth cast the only vote against the March 15 start date.

"We have a fantastic hybrid model for state testing. We don't have to change anything. We can do our state testing," she said.

The district's hybrid model is a morning-afternoon format, with students attending school every day either in the morning or afternoon and participating in learning activities at home for the remainder of the day.

Wassmuth said she is not against going "all-in" and returning students to all-day, everyday in-person learning, but she would prefer waiting until March 29.

Her "lines in the sand" include her continued concern about the inability for the district to maintain at least 3 feet of distance between all students in classrooms, she said.

Superintendent Andy Culp and the principals from each of Grandview's three school buildings told the board that in a majority of classrooms throughout the district, the square footage and prominent use of tables instead of individual desks would mean most students would be sitting closer than 3 feet from at least one classmate.

Other board members noted the steady decline in case rates and test-positive rates in the district that have occurred since the beginning of the school year.

The expectation is that the trend will continue and the numbers will be even better by March 15, board member Emily Gephart said.

It is a gamble, she said, but another important factor is that 90% of district staff will have received their second vaccine shot by Feb. 27.

The worst-case scenarios have not occurred in districts that have gone "all-in," board member Eric Bode said. 

"To me, just reading all the numbers and weighing all the risks, we are at the time (for returning students to school full time)," he said. "The best thing for kids is in-person (class), not just from an academic standpoint but (also) emotionally, socially and behaviorally."

Board president Jesse Truett asked if the district could ensure students will be able to maintain 6 feet of distance during lunch, when they will be taking off their masks to eat their food.

"That's 100% non-negotiable," Culp said.

Each building principal has a plan in place to guarantee 6-foot distance will be maintained during lunches, he said.

Schools will have multiple lunch periods and will use gyms and classrooms as needed during lunch periods to spread students out, Culp said.

Families who are not comfortable with sending their children to school full time will be able to sign up to participate in the Florida Virtual School program, he said.

The virtual school was made available to families as an alternative to the hybrid model.

Parents must sign up by March 4 to switch their children to the FVS program for the remainder of the school year, Culp said.

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