Stow-Munroe Falls plans to return students to in-person classes, enhance hybrid learning

Laura Freeman
Kent Weeklies
The Stow-Munroe Falls School Board unanimously decided to have classes for K-6 grades five days a week.

STOW – Plans are being made to return students to five-day in-person classes while making changes to the online and hybrid versions some students have chosen.

Presently, students are in either the Maroon Plan, which is a hybrid learning plan with students attending in-person two days a week and working remotely the other three days; or the Gold Plan, which has students working remotely for the fall semester.

The school board, at a Nov. 6 special meeting, voted unanimously to approve a fall restart plan for Maroon Plan students in kindergarten through sixth grade to return to school five days a week beginning no sooner than Nov. 30. if "it is deemed safe to do so," according to Superintendent Tom Bratten.  Parents would be notified no later than Friday, Nov. 27 of the return date.

Maroon Plan students in grades seven through 12 would see the return to five-day in-person classes at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, which would be no sooner than Jan. 4, 2021, again if it is deemed safe enough.

“We want students and staff to return to full-time learning but do it safely when the time is right for our district,” Bratten said.

The metrics for the decisions on when to return would be based on the community and not just Summit County’s color for COVID-19 cases, he said. The metrics will be "holistic in nature" and will range from confirmed positive cases of students and staff; number of quarantined students and staff; availability of substitute staff for certified and classified staff members; confirmed positive cases of students and staff in the Six District Educational Compact districts and programs; case rates for Stow and Munroe Falls; and the Ohio Health Advisory System color for Summit County.

Parents/guardians who want to switch their student from the Maroon Pan to the Gold Plan for the remainder of the fall semester should contact their building principal. Families who are interested in switching from the Gold Plan to the Maroon Plan will not be able to make that change until the beginning of the spring 2021 semester

In addition, parents need to make a decision about what plan they will choose for the spring semester by Nov. 13. This can be done through the FinalForms portal on the district's website.

The Gold plan will remain optional through the 2020-21 school year, Bratten said.

Based on feedback from students, staff and parents, Kimpton and high school staff are working on creating a more "synchronous learning" environment for those students, according to Kimpton principal Mike Love and the high school principal, Dr. Jeffrey Hartmann. 

School board president Jason Whitacre said younger kids in school have less interaction by going to assigned seats and staying in smaller groups so they can return to class safely.

“It doesn’t make sense to continue the hybrid model for younger children,” Whitacre said. “Parents have to work and children need to interact. The product we are delivering on remote days is not what we want to deliver.”

Although board member Nancy Brown suggested waiting until January for K-6 students to return to five-days in-person learning, other board members said students would benefit from returning as soon as possible. Teachers could try it and make adjustments over the holiday break.

“Our teachers are struggling and working harder than they have ever worked,” said board member Lisa Johnson-Bowers. “They try to keep up and can’t take time for themselves. The sooner we get back, the better. The staff will keep students safe.  The health department will shut us down if someone gets sick.”

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