Nordonia students will resume five days in-person learning

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Nordonia Hills City Schools Board of Education offices, in Northfield Elementary School

NORTHFIELD CENTER -- By the start of the second semester, all Nordonia Hills students whose families opted for in-person instruction will return to the classroom five days a week.

Starting Jan. 26, the first day of the second semester, students in all grades not in the district's virtual schooling option will go to the buildings five days a week, said Superintendent Joe Clark on Thursday. He added that Jan. 25 is Records Day, and students should not attend that day.

All grades went fully remote shortly before winter break. When school started again Jan. 4, students in kindergarten through fourth grade started attending classes in hybrid mode, while students in fifth grade and older remained fully remote.

In the weeks of Jan. 11 and 18, students in kindergarten through fourth grade will start classes five days a week, and students in fifth grade and older will switch to hybrid. Clark added that schools will not be open Jan. 18 due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"Our hope is to remain open five days per week for the rest of the school year," Clark said. "To do that, we must remain diligent in doing all we can to prevent community spread. This means avoiding large gatherings, staying home as much as possible, wearing masks, and washing hands often."

If families see symptoms of illness, even minor ones, in their children, they should stay home, Clark said.

"I have heard dozens of stories from people who tested positive after thinking they initially had a sinus infection or a migraine," Clark said. "If we see spread within the buildings, or if we are unable to staff our buildings, we will be forced to return to either a hybrid or remote model."

The decision comes from new guidance coming from the Ohio Department of Health, Clark said. The guidance comes from a study by The Ohio State University regarding quarantining students and school employees who are exposed to those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Before, a person is considered a close contact if they were closer than 6 feet to an infected person for at least 15 minutes during the period beginning 48 hours before the infected person developed symptoms through the time the infected person began quarantine.

"Until now, these close contacts had been required to stay home from school for 10 days," Clark said. "However, under new guidance, those wearing masks who were 3 feet or further away from a person at school who tests positive are no longer required to stay home from school for 10 days. In practical terms, that means if a student or staff member contracts COVID-19, the number of those required to stay home will be reduced to almost none, except for the infected person himself. This is because, as the Ohio State study affirmed, the likelihood of in-school spread is minuscule. Take Nordonia as an example: of the 133 students and employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the school year began - we have evidence of only two of those cases being spread at school. The rest of the cases were contracted through community spread."

These guidelines are only in place for students and staff who are contacts of those who tested positive in a school setting, which includes classrooms, recess, gym, band, choir and buses, Clark said.

"These contacts should still follow regular quarantine protocols when not at school," Clark said. "That means these contacts may not participate in any extracurricular activities. These contacts should continue to self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if they have any."

Those who had contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 outside of school are still required to quarantine for 10 days, Clark said. This includes family gatherings and other events outside of school.

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