Woodridge local schools doing all-remote learning until after winter break

Superintendent says he will 'wait and see' before deciding whether virtual plan continues beyond Jan. 4.

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Woodridge Local Schools Superintendent Walter Davis speaks to the Board of Education during a special meeting in late 2020. The board in May 2021 approved the traditional and new summer programs for students.

CUYAHOGA FALLS — The Woodridge schools leader said he wants to "wait and see" before deciding whether the district's recently implemented all-virtual approach will continue when winter break ends Jan. 4.

Superintendent Walter Davis made the comment during the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1. At that same meeting, the board voted to authorize Davis to implement remote instruction for all students in K-12 from Dec. 1 through 18. All classes were canceled on Dec. 1 due to inclement weather, so the first day of all-remote instruction occurred Wednesday, Dec. 2. Students will be on winter break from Dec. 21 until Jan. 4.

The board's action also gave Davis the authority to extend the remote learning period "if conditions warrant."

Davis said the district's COVID-19 plan already mandates a fully virtual approach if Summit County is in the purple designation in the state's four-tier, color coded Public Health Advisory System. Purple is the most serious designation in the four-tier system.

At the time of the board meeting on Dec. 1, Summit County was in the red designation.

Noting that "a number of" neighboring districts were continuing remote instruction into mid-January, Davis said, "I don't want to do that now…Let's see what happens."

Only the parents of home team athletes will be allowed to attend winter sporting events, according to Davis, who noted the seasons are continuing at this time.

Woodridge started the school year with students in K-5 attending in-person classes five days a week and students in grades 6-12 attending on a hybrid model. Davis announced on Nov. 19 that the district would switch to an all-remote learning model for all students starting Dec. 1.

As of Nov. 30, the district had seven active cases of COVID-19 among students and six active cases among staff members.

Since Sept. 11, the district has had a total of 24 student cases and 17 staff member cases.

Board approves second semester plan

The board also adopted the district's second semester instructional plan.

Davis said the district is looking to add another third-grade section and another fifth-grade section to "to accommodate the additional kids coming in from Woodridge Virtual Academy to the in-school model" for the second semester.

Doing this will allow the district to keep students properly distanced and maintain small class sizes, according to Davis.

"There are also several grade levels where we're moving a teacher from the virtual academy back into the [in-school] program to accommodate students that are coming back," he said.

Davis added he expected the district will be able to accommodate the middle and high school students in the second semester without making any staff changes.

Buildings will be cleaned while students are doing remote learning

The board also approved allowing Davis to assign some classified employees to different responsibilities during remote learning. These assignments are outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding that the district has with OAPSE Local 544, the union representing support staff employees.

Davis said the district's transportation department has been divided into four teams, each with five to six employees, that will be assigned to perform cleanings of a district building. Teams will be assigned to clean the high school, middle school, and elementary school buildings, as well as the new warehouse/transportation facility. 

"We're going to scrub everything," said Davis. "We're going to sanitize everything."

The team assigned to the warehouse/transportation facility is "going to wash every bus inside and out," said Davis.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.