Nordonia students in fifth grade and up to go hybrid after Thanksgiving

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia HIlls students in kindergarten through fourth grade will continue to take classes five days a week when they return from Thanksgiving break. The students at Lee Eaton, the middle school and the high school will be under the hybrid model.

NORTHFIELD CENTER -- After  students return Dec. 1 from Thanksgiving break, Ledgeview, Northfield and Rushwood students will continue to attend classes in the buildings five days per week, and students at Lee Eaton, Nordonia Middle School and Nordonia High School will be on the hybrid plan.

Superintendent Joe Clark said there were no immediate plans for all of the schools to switch to all-online classes.

"We are not yet at the point where remote learning makes the most sense for us," Clark said. "Currently, less than 2% of our student body at Nordonia High School has tested positive, around 1% at the middle school, and the positive rate at our other buildings is a fraction of a percent. With the help of Summit County Public Health, we trace the contacts of every positive case, and we have consistently found that students and staff are not catching the virus at school. Rather, they are contracting it through community spread, either at a large group gathering or from their families, who may have contracted it from work, church, or other gatherings."

Clark said that the Summit County Public Health has said the district should "continue to stay the course." 

"School is the safest place for kids to be because when they are here we know they are socially distancing, wearing masks, washing their hands and avoiding large gatherings," Clark said. He added that the district will consider switching to all-online "if we begin to see the spread of COVID-19 within school; if staff absence rates are such that we can’t responsibly operate a building; student absence rates are so high that opening school would not make sense; or state or local health officials either mandate or recommend moving into a remote learning model."

The Nordonia HIlls City Schools started the school year in hybrid mode, where students whose families opted for in-person education attended classes at the buildings two days a week in a staggered schedule, and remote the remaining three days. On Oct. 5, students went to five days per week. Since then, both Lee Eaton and the middle school have had to switch temporarily to all-online for a limited time, and all of the schools have been at hybrid since then at some point. One main issue has been finding substitutes to cover for absent teachers.

According to the dashboard on the district's website, as of Friday, there have been 42 students and 15 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since September. Most of the student cases have been at either the middle school or high school. Since September, there have been 27 students at the high school who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and eight students at the middle school. There have been four positive student cases since September at Lee Eaton, two at Northfield Elementary, one at Ledgeview elementary, and no cases at Rushwood Elementary. 

Clark also said that because SCPH has issued a Stay at Home Health Advisory "recommending people only leave their homes to go to work, school, or for essential needs such as food and medicine," the public will not be allowed to use the school buildings or attend sports games.

"Effective immediately we are not allowing spectators to school athletic events or community use of our facilities during this time period," Clark said. 

County and state

On Thursday, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro and Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda issued a Stay At Home Health Advisory in response to a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The advisory urges all residents to stay at home to the greatest extent possible due to the rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county. Residents should only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food, or receiving deliveries.

Residents are strongly advised to avoid traveling in and out of the state, forgo having guests in their homes during the upcoming holiday season and utilize online communications wherever possible. The advisory encourages employers to move as many employees as possible to working from home. Businesses and local governments are advised to move as many transactions and functions as possible to online, and schools are directed to monitor cases within their district and community.

This advisory will remain in place through Dec. 16, unless an additional advisory is issued.

Also on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine stated that Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud signed a health order encouraging people to stay at home during specified hours unless they are working or engaged in an essential activity.

Under this order, people should stay at a place of residence between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for obtaining necessary food, medical care, or social services or providing care for others. The order will be in place for 21 days.

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