Nordonia Hills City Schools scale back start plans in face of COVID-19 threat

Classes will be blend of in person, online for first two weeks

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
The Nordonia Hills City School District's students will start the school year on a hybrid model regardless of the county's coronavirus threat level. The decision is a change from the district's previous plan to return to full, in-class instruction if the threat level drops.

NORTHFIELD CENTER – Students in the Nordonia Hills City School District will take their classes in person for part of the week, and online for the other half, for the first two weeks, regardless of Summit County’s ranking determined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school board voted 4-1 Monday on the plan change, with Board President Tammy Strong casting the dissenting vote. The initial plan would have had students who choose to return to in-person instruction on Sept. 8 going to school five days a week if the county is at yellow status.

The advisory system ranks the state’s 88 counties on the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The colors, from least to most severe, are yellow, orange, red and purple. As of Wednesday, Summit County was orange.

If the county is in orange or red, the district will maintain its hybrid schedule. If the county is in purple, the district will switch to all-remote learning. The district is also offering a fully remote option, which about 22 percent of students have elected to take part in.

Strong said that the school board had agreed July 23 to have students attend classes five days a week if the coronavirus threat level goes down, and said the district should have stuck to that plan.

"The reopening plan was published and communicated to everyone in the district stating schools would open five days a week if Summit County was in yellow," Strong said. "I did not feel I could vote to change that plan when so many families have been hoping and praying Summit County would be in yellow. I want students back in school five days a week, like so many others.  I do agree allowing a week to adjust from two days to five days of instruction anytime the Summit County level changes."

Strong added that she did "respect the opinions of the administrators and the decision of the board."

With the school board’s most recent vote, even if the county is in yellow, students will go to the school buildings twice a week on a staggered schedule and take their classes online for the other three days, said Superintendent Joe Clark.

“We will be on the hybrid plan for at least the first two weeks of school, through Sept. 18,” Clark said. “Assuming we remain in yellow that entire time, we would begin the five-day-per-week plan on Sept. 21. Again, this is only in the event that the code turns yellow before school opens on Sept. 8 and stays yellow through Sept. 18.”

The district is posting further details and updates at its website, www.nordoniaschools.org.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com