Tallmadge schools go remote, city operations largely unchanged

Krista S. Kano
Kent Weeklies

TALLMADGE — Summit County moved up to Level 4 Purple on Ohio's coronavirus advisory system Dec. 3, prompting big changes within Tallmadge City School District, but no significant adjustments for city facilities. 

What changed at the schools?

The district had been having kindergarteners through fifth-graders attend school daily while students in grades six to 12 attended every other day, but on Dec. 3 Superintendent Jeff Ferguson announced that all students would move to remote learning starting on Dec. 7.

More:Summit County school districts adjust now that county is purple on the COVID-19 risk map

Additionally, all athletics and extracurriculars will continue to be paused through Dec. 18.

The move to remote learning deviates from the district's original reopening plan that said that the district's fully remote plan would be implemented when "Schools are mandated to close and all students are distance learning."

The district's decision also goes above and beyond the recommendations of Summit County Public Health guidance issued Monday, Tallmadge's first all-remote day.

The guidance asked schools to consider "dropping your learning modality by one level for older students in order to minimize risk" and that all sports competitions stop with the exception of skills training and conditioning. 

Ferguson explained that his decision was heavily influenced by two factors: severe spread in the community and the staff shortage they had been seeing. 

Just last week, he said, seven classes across the district did not have teachers and could not find substitute teachers. Several teachers have been quarantined due to close contact with someone who has tested positive outside of the school setting. 

"That shortage of substitutes becomes a safety issue because we can't combine classes and maintain distance. We have a number of retirees who typically sub for us, but in a pandemic, quite a few opted out for obvious reasons," Ferguson said. 

In order to get coverage, other teachers gave up their planning periods and administrators stepped in. 

Regarding athletics, Ferguson said that all practices are on hold, including skills training, and that he hopes athletes and extracurriculars can resume safely when students return from winter break on Jan. 6. Skills training and conditioning would be the first pieces to return so that athletes do not injure themselves.  

Tallmadge High School counselors continue to be reachable at https://sites.google.com/tallmadgeschools.org/thsvirtualcounseling/home.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16. 

What changed in the city?

Tallmadge Mayor David Kline said that city has not significantly changed its operations in response to the county turning purple, but did send out reminders to employees about Centers for Disease Control rules and recommendations. 

City Hall remains open to visitors. 

"We're staying on pace of what we were doing prior to [the county going purple], but we're keeping an eye on it," Kline said. 

Due to the schools going remote, the Recreation Center offered all-day care to students who were already participating in before and after care programs. 

"We are very limited to how we handle that because of the space we have," Kline said.

The recreation center is otherwise open with the same available hours. 

Parks and Recreation also canceled its basketball league that had been postponed to the second week of December in order to mirror the schools' athletic policies. Kline said that they are reimbursing the teams that were signed up.

Kline also asked residents to refrain from bringing in food for the police and fire departments. 

"We're also reminding everyone to wear masks, social distance and wash your hands," he said. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.