TWINSBURG – Students will be starting their summer break two weeks earlier than anticipated this year.

The school board unanimously approved moving the last day of the school year from June 2 to May 22 at meeting Wednesday. The last day for this year’s graduating class will be Friday.

Superintendent Kathryn Powers said that the district’s students will have met its required minimum hours mandated by the state at that point. In addition, the district made the change "due to the current school closure and the complexities of the remote teaching and learning model currently in place."

June 3 will still be the last day for teachers, Powers added.

"Teachers will use the days between May 26 and June 3 to calculate students’ grades, to finalize records, and to engage in professional development regarding the Google classroom and online instructional tools," Powers said. "It has been a very long fourth quarter of the year." She added that "given the circumstances that our families have worked under since March 17 and since we have met the requirements and far exceeded our requirements established in statute and by the Ohio Department of Education," she recommended the school year end early.

Board member Adrienne Gordon said she agreed.

"There's a lot of families really struggling trying to make it all work right now," Gordon said. "I think the families that are champing for school to stay open are the ones that have full Wi-Fi, there's somebody home to help, but there's a lot of families that don't have those benefits right now."

Board President Mark Curtis said that ending the students’ year early will allow the district’s teachers and staff "to to prepare accordingly for what may or may not happen for next school year."

"Given everything that everyone has gone through, students, families and staff for that matter, I think that we've done a really, really good job all around in adapting very quickly to providing education as seamlessly as possible," Curtis said. "I think it's a prudent move."

Ohio law requires schools to have a minimum of 455 instructional hours for half-day kindergarten, 910 hours for all-day kindergarten and first through sixth grade, and 1,001 hours for grades seventh through 12th grade between July 1 and June 30 of each school year, according to information from the district.

School buildings were closed by state order starting March 16 due to concerns surrounding the pandemic. Gov. Mike DeWine also stated that districts should work to provide education through alternative means while the school buildings were closed, and that this would count towards the hours needed to meet the state education requirements.

In addition, the school board unanimously approved legislation that, because of the pandemic, teacher and staff evaluations not done before March 14 will not be done for the 2019-2020 school year. This is allowed under a provision in HB 197, which was signed by DeWine on March 27. This provision in HB 197 "permits a board of education to elect not to conduct evaluations of district employees, including teachers, administrators, or a superintendent for the 2019-20 school year, if the board determines that it would be impossible or impracticable to do so." If an employee is not evaluated, "the employee may not be penalized for the purpose of reemployment for lack of an evaluation," however, the house bill "does not preclude a board of education from using an evaluation completed" before the school buildings were ordered closed.

Senior parade

Powers said that there will be a Senior Parade May 31 starting at noon at the high school to honor this year’s graduating class. The parade will go through the city, the township and Reminderville village.

"The parade is scheduled to kick off from Twinsburg High School, travel to Reminderville, then onto Twinsburg Township, eventually returning to the high school," Powers said. "A parade route will be published closer to the date. Twinsburg High School Principal Laura Hebert will provide specific information to our seniors and their parents about their participation in the parade, however, I hope our entire Tiger family plans to cheer on our Class of 2020 as they parade throughout our community."

Powers said the district is asking parents to drive in the parade, and that the graduating seniors wear their caps and gowns, "or at least their caps."

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC