Stow school district expands on plan for reopening

Families must choose plan by July 31

LAURA FREEMAN
Reporter
Superintendent Tom Bratten revealed more information about the reopening of Stow Munroe Falls School District at the July 20 school board meeting.

STOW —Families in the Stow-Munroe Falls district are being offered two final plans to choose from for when schools reopen and begin the 2020-21 school year.

Superintendent Tom Bratten shared information about the reopening of schools at the school board meeting on Monday night. Families are being asked to make a decision on which of two learning plans their family will follow by completing a First Semester 2020 Intent Form by July 31. The form can be found on the district's website at www.smfschools.org. The choice will be for the semester term.

School staff will begin work on Aug. 17 and receive training for two weeks. Students in grades 1 through 5, 7 and 9 will begin Aug. 31. Those in grades 6, 8 and 10-12 will begin Sept. 1. The first day for preschool is Sept. 2 and the first day for kindergarten students is Sept. 8. The school board unanimously approved this new calendar on Monday night.

Kindergarten screening will be the week before Sept. 8. In the past, screening involved a lot of interaction, but this year it will depend on the health department guidelines.

The reopening plans, released last week by the district on its website, www.smfschools.org, indicates the Maroon Learning Plan has students attending in-person classes, based on the county's risk levels designated by the Ohio Department of Health. In the Gold Learning plan, students participate only in remote learning for the entire semester and do not participate in the in-person classes.

The Maroon Learning Plan has three color levels determined by the county. In the orange level, students are in school every day with all precautions and sanitation procedures recommended by Summit County Public Health.

In the red level, which is where Summit County is currently, students have hybrid learning. Group A, or students with the last names beginning with A-L, attend in person on Mondays and Tuesdays and learn remotely the rest of the week. Group B, or students with the last names beginning with M-Z, participate in remote learning Monday through Wednesday and have in person classes on Thursdays and Fridays.

In the purple level, all students are doing remote learning.

The Gold Learning Plan’s online course content would be aligned to the district’s curriculum and would be taught by district staff. Online-only students would still be able to participate in extracurricular activities.

Because the district is not using a virtual curriculum provider, students can transition to in-person learning at a semester break.

The staff will only be responsible for remote learning through Zoom or Google Meet for multiple hours per day. The staffing and number of students online in a group will depend on the number of students participating in the Gold Plan. Students in K-4 will be grouped by grade level and not by building. Students must commit to the Gold Plan for a semester. Maroon students can transition to the Gold Plan one time during the semester.

District families must notify the district by July 31 whether they will participate in the Maroon or Gold Plan.

Masks will be worn by staff when moving around, when physical distancing cannot be maintained and when working with students on a one-to-one basis. Students in grades K-12 will be required to wear a mask when riding the bus; entering, exiting and moving around the classroom, hallways, lockers and common areas; when working with staff on a one-to-one basis or with other students in small groups; and when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The Summit County Public Health Guidance requires students to be 6 feet apart if not wearing a mask but they can be 3 to 4 feet apart if wearing a mask. They recommend students sit in assigned seats in the classroom and during lunch and recess, which will be done in small groups to minimize contact with other classrooms.

Summit County Public Health Guidance is sending procedures to the district for when a staff member and/or a student has a positive COVID-19 case. The SCPH will complete the contact tracing and will notify anyone that needs to be quarantined.

“We realize that this is not an easy task for many of our families and certainly not a one-size-fits-all situation,” said Bratten in a letter to district families on Wednesday. “Please be reminded that school will certainly not look like the school we knew in the past ... but our Bulldogs are resilient and we can’t wait to see them persevere in August.”

Meals, busing, special needs students

School lunch choices will be limited to boxed lunches to limit contact and practice social distancing. Remote learning students can have box lunches as well. Times and places for pick up will be announced in the future.

The district will utilize a “subscription” busing procedure and only assign students to routes who have informed the district that they will be using transportation services. Students can be added on later in the year. Parents will be asked to conduct a student wellness check including temperature prior to sending a student to school. Students with a temperature of more than 100 degrees should stay home.

Students will be required to wear masks on the bus and will be assigned seats. Loading will be start at the back of the bus and unloading will start from the front. Students will be seated alone or two to a seat when needed.

The Ohio Department of Education is releasing additional guidance for educating students with disabilities.

A Special Service Restart Committee will convene to finalize guidance for IEP teams and to share information with families by Aug. 7 or earlier for K-12. The preschool program has different rules and will be separate with information out to families by July 31.

“The district has consulted extensively with our health care community partners, Summit County Public Health, and experts at the local and state levels in order to plan for the safest return to school for our students and staff,” Bratten said in releasing the plans. “We have sought input from our parents and SMFCSD certified and classified staff regarding their experiences in remote learning at the end of last school year, and we have considered that feedback in the development of the restart plan. The district recognizes that no plan will satisfy all stakeholders and families in our communities, but our committees worked diligently to address the concerns of everyone.”

Bratten noted the district is still working on plans for how it will handle the career and technology education programs as well as special classes such as physical education, music and art.

For more information, go to 2020 Fall Restart FAQ on the school website www.smfschools.org.

Additional questions can be emailed to restart2020@smfcsd.org

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