LIMA — Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, education has had to change, going to remote learning in the spring. Now, schools are planning to start the year with in-person classes.
Six Allen County superintendents outlined the process that’s been developed to open schools safely during Monday’s Lima Rotary Club meeting at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center. They started the process over the summer and met in person for the first time on June 22. A final countywide plan was released July 13 after getting guidance from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office and Allen County Public Health.
When schools had to pivot to remote learning, decisions had to be made quickly. Now everyone has had time to talk about how education will look this fall despite higher levels of COVID-19 in the community.
“It’s our belief this won’t last until eternity,” said James Kanable, superintendent of Shawnee schools. “What happened last year isn’t this year. Different year, different tune.”
The facemask policy varies from district to district and may change depending on Allen County’s alert levels.
”We can not have kids 6 feet apart. We are a masking district,” Kanable said.
Lima schools were expected to pass a mandatory mask policy at their meeting Monday night, and that would change if the governor’s orders changed, Lima schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said.
Many parents are concerned about their kids heading back to class in person, and that’s affecting how many of those are not going to send their kids for in-person learning.
“Remote learning is definitely a challenge,” said Bath schools Superintendent Rich Dackin. “We’re supposed to have parents register (for online learning) by this Wednesday. We may push that back. More and more kids are opting out. We’re currently at 20%. We have about 1,800 kids in the district, so that’s a pretty significant number for us.”
Elida schools indicated they are at 15% opting to have their child educated online, said Joel Mengerink, superintendent of Elida schools.
Lima’s rate is “somewhere between 15 and 20%,” Ackerman said.
At Apollo Career Center, the need for in-person lessons is imperative due to their many labs, said Keith Horner, the superintendent.
”You can’t teach career tech remotely,” Horner said.
Craig Kupferberg, of the Allen County Educational Service Center also participated in the roundtable of superintendents.
One developing problem is some people who were substitute teachers last school year are not coming back in the fall due to concerns about being exposed to a student or other staff member who might have COVID-19.
“Many of the subs that we rely upon are retired teachers. Without subs, we’ll be struggling,” Kanable said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.