Stow-Munroe Falls School District officials staying with hybrid plan for now

Laura Freeman
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Munroe Falls CIty School District Superintendent Tom Bratten waves to the seniors of the 2020 class in a parade at the high school in April. Bratten said the district will remain in a hybrid learning plan for the time being.

STOW – Even though the Ohio Public Health Advisory System has changed colors for risk levels of COVID-19 in Summit County a few times, the school district is remaining with a hybrid plan for the time being.

About 78% of the students in the Stow-Munroe Falls School District are attending in-person school in the Maroon plan. The district is operating on its hybrid learning model, where students attend in-person two days per week while attending remotely three days a week. About 22% of students are taking part in the Gold (online/remote) program.

The district is following a hybrid plan when the state's risk level for Summit County is red or orange. District officials decided to stick with that hybrid plan even after the Ohio Public Health Advisory System recently placed Summit County in the yellow, or lowest, risk level.

According to the guidance issued by Summit County Public Health in August, a majority of four conditions would need to be met before students attend school five days per week and include sustained declining cases in the county ideally for four to six weeks; a move to a yellow-risk status as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System; increased testing capacity for youth: and a decrease in hospitalizations, which is a marker for community spread.

"Summit County Public Health has not changed the guidance from Aug. 10, so the district will continue to operate in our current hybrid schedule," said District Superintendent Tom Bratten. "While we recognize that a hybrid schedule poses challenges for our families and staff, it is the safest in-person option for our students and staff." 

The district is continuing to monitor the status of COVID-19 in the community, including the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's coding of the county, he said. 

"If Summit County continues to be yellow over the next few weeks, we will consult with Summit County Public Health and reassess our restart plan including the possibility of students attending in-person for five days per week," Bratten said.

Bratten said Stow-Munroe Falls school facilities are older and lack larger classrooms and learning space to practice social distancing of 6 feet if all students attended five days a week.

"Social distancing of 6 feet decreases the possibility of COVID-19 transmission and decreases the likelihood that staff and/or students will be quarantined by Summit County Public Health in the event they come into contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19," Bratten said. "Districts in other counties who do not have 6 feet of social distancing have experienced an increase in transmission rates of COVID-19 along with mandatory quarantines for classrooms, building wings, or entire buildings."

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com