AURORA – Aurora school officials are working on the final back-to-school plans, which they say will include both in-building and remote options.
Board of Education President Gerald Kohanski said families will receive details in the mail July 20, along with a survey asking whether they would choose to send their children to attend class in person, or if they would prefer an online option. He said parents would have to commit to one of the two options for the entire first semester.
Survey responses will be due July 27.
Kohanski said that a spring survey showed that 85% of parents planned to send their children back to school.
"Obviously safety is our primary concern and the district's actions will be governed by guidelines from such experts as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, the Portage County Health Department, and research from The Cleveland Clinic," Kohanski said. "Differences from pre-COVID school years will involve measures like greater desk spacing, plastic safety shields in classrooms, students and teachers wearing masks in common areas like hallways, and possible one-way hallways and stairwells."
Unlike some area school districts, Kohanski said that the Aurora schools are not planning a hybrid model for students. The hybrid model would have students attending school in-person for part of the week, and taking classes online for the remainder of the week.
"We do not believe it will be necessary," he said.
Because of the pandemic, school will start for students a week and a half later than previously planned. The first day for students is Aug. 26, in a calendar approved in May by the school board. The previous start date had been Aug. 17. School will still end the same day, on May 27, but Feb. 12, which had been slated as a professional day, will now be a school day.
In the neighboring Twinsburg school district, plans to date call for its preschool to sixth-graders to attend classes in-person five days a week. Students in seventh grade and up will attend class in-person two days a week and take classes remotely the other three days. The Twinsburg City Schools also is offering an online option for families who are more comfortable with remote learning.
Officials with the Nordonia Hills City Schools are still finalizing plans, but the district also will provide an online option for their families.
Like Aurora schools, both Twinsburg and Nordonia have decided to delay the start of school.
Gov. Mike DeWine released the regulations on reopening schools July 2, with an emphasis that many decisions will be left to the individual districts.
"We know that each school system, and perhaps each school building, will likely look different in the fall. We also know that Ohio has a long history of local control and that school administrators and teachers know their schools best," said DeWine. "Working together and consulting with educators and other health officials, we have developed a set of guidelines, backed by science, that each school should follow when developing their reopening plans."
The guidelines require all staff and volunteers to wear a face covering, unless doing so would be a violation of industry standards, are not advisable for health reasons, or there is a practical reason for not wearing a facial covering.
In addition, it "is strongly recommended that students in third grade and higher wear a face mask unless they are unable to do so for a health or developmental reason," according to information from the state
"The majority opinion among experts appears to be that children kindergarten through fifth grade can wear masks as long as consideration is given for the age and developmental level of the child and the physical situation the child is in at that moment," according to the state regulations. Students also are strongly encouraged to wear masks while they are on school buses.
More details on the new school guidelines are available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org