Nordonia students to return to hybrid instruction model

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Students in the Nordonia Hills School district will switch from taking classes at the buildings the entire school week to going twice a week.

NORTHFIELD CENTER -- Students opting to take classes in-person will go from five  days to two starting this Monday after Summit County was classified as Level 3 red by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System on Thursday.

Students had been taking full-time, in-person classes for the past two weeks, said Superintendent Joe Clark. However, he added that last week students had Friday off due to a professional development day, and this Friday all students are scheduled for remote learning "so we have not had a five day week yet."

Gov. Mike DeWine said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that positive cases of COVID-19 have gone up significantly. 

“Yesterday we reported 2,039 cases, our record," DeWine said. "Today, we reported 2,178 cases, another record. This is in stark contrast to not that long ago. We’ve gone up dramatically in a relatively short time.”

By contrast, on Sept. 20, DeWine said the state had 762 new positive cases, and "for some time, we were hovering around 1,000."

There are now 29 counties in Ohio that are Level 3, DeWine said, up by 13 counties from last week. This means that 65% of the state's population lives in a Level 3 county. In addition, 52 counties high incidence counties, which is defined as more than 100 cases per 100,000 cases in the past two weeks.

As of Oct. 15, the Nordonia Hills schools have had one student and three staff members test positive for COVID-19. One student and one staff member tested positive in September, and two staff members tested positive this month. 

Under the hybrid plan, students will take classes twice a week in the buildings on a staggered schedule, and take their classes the remaining three days online.

"Tonight, or early tomorrow you should expect teachers to provide work for Option 1 students to do at home tomorrow," Clark said in a message sent Thursday afternoon to district families. "To be clear, no students should attend school in-person tomorrow."

Clark added that "hybrid model part time kindergarten students are in school all day on the two days they attend."

The district will have in place a better system of determining when to use hybrid and when to go to five days a week, Clark said.

"We know that switching between two and five days a week is disruptive to families and the education process," Clark said. "For that reason, I am working with Summit County Public Health to develop a guide to help us make our decisions based on more localized data rather than the county as a whole."

Clarke added that he expected "to complete this work and make a recommendation to the Board of Education soon." 

The school board agreed to start the school year in hybrid mode. Under the current plan, if Summit County was in yellow, or Level 1, the least severe rating, the district would have classes in-person five days a week. 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. To date, no Ohio county has been ranked purple.

The district also offered families a fully online version, where students would take all their classes remotely.

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