Area school superintendents were not surprised Monday to hear Ohio schools will stay closed for the remainder of the school year.
Gov. Mike DeWine, who was the first governor in the nation to shutter schools statewide, said his latest decision stems from concern for the continued safety of students, teachers and communities. He said returning students to their classrooms could lead to new cases of COVID-19.
DeWine said teachers and administrators also worried that another disruption to a school year already interrupted by the coronavirus might negatively affect students, who need continuity.
“This is kind of where I projected we would be, and we finally arrived there,” said James Kanable, superintendent of Shawnee schools.
Lima Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said she was more sad than anything.
“To say that you kind of knew what was coming, but then to actually have it, brings a tremendous amount of sadness. For those seniors, it’s lost and everybody’s really struggling with it,” Ackerman said.
With the physical school buildings closed, many districts are still trying to figure out how to handle graduation.
“For us, it would be a large gathering just solely based on the number of kids that we have,” said Ackerman said. “My hope would be to delay it, not to cancel it. I’m still going to hold out hope for that — to be able to have something for them at some point in the summer.”
Shawnee sent an email last week to parents and seniors regarding graduation. “We outlined some specifics as far as what we were going to try to do,” he said.
With only weeks left in the school year, DeWine said remote learning should continue.
“Teachers have done an amazing job” with distance education, DeWine said. “Everybody’ stepped up … to bring he best education they can to our kids under unusual and difficult circumstances.”
The decision to extend virtual learning through the end of the school year was expected.
“I think we’re in a pretty good situation with the online tools that we have. Every one of our kids has a device at home that the school provided them so our online learning will continue like it has been,” said Scott Mangas, superintendent of Ottoville schools.
The state still must determine how to best protect special-needs and medically-fragile children before considering a classroom return, he said, expressing hopes internet availability can be expanded for pupils.
DeWine urged state and local education leaders to be considering plans to address the needs of students with disabilities, those with health risks, those lacking internet access and those who might not have a stable home life.
DeWine said no decision has been made about the fall.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.