COLUMBUS — The Ohio Education Association is calling for state leaders and school districts across the state to immediately suspend all in-person instruction until Jan. 11.
The OEA asked districts to demonstrate their commitment to putting students first in their pandemic response by following a four-point plan that reflects the latest science and best practices for ensuring Ohio’s children receive a high-quality education in a safe environment. According to a news release, the OEA urged districts to stop in-person learning until a 14-day quarantine period after Christmas.
To restart after the reset period, schools should be required to obtain sign-off on the safety of their instructional model from their local health board. Schools that are unable to obtain sign-off must remain fully remote and shouldn’t hold extracurricular activities, according to the OEA proposal.
Local educators aren’t necessarily sold on the plan.
“We continue to assess our situation, and we continue to communicate weekly with Allen County Health Department and medical professionals that serve our community,” said James Kanable, Shawnee schools superintendent. “ … We have not seen indications in our students or staff that would lead to these type of actions. If we see changes that cause concern, we will consult with these same professionals and act accordingly with the information that presents itself at that time.”
Lima schools are doing what they can to keep their doors open.
“The Lima City Schools has worked very diligently to keep our students and staff safe during the COVID pandemic, and I can say that we have been successful,” said Jill Ackerman, superintendent of Lima schools. “ … Currently, .0014% of our combined student and staff population has the virus. Our efforts in social distancing and keeping seating charts in classrooms, cafeterias and buses have kept the numbers of students needing to be quarantined down as well. ”
The same is true at Bath schools, its superintendent said.
“Our students and staff have done a great job adhering to our guidelines in our opening plan,” said Rich Dackin, Bath schools superintendent. “We do not feel that there needs to be an ‘all or nothing’ policy with regards to moving all kids online. Each district, in cooperation with their county health department, should determine how and when to move to remote learning.”
Ottoville schools, at one point, had to go to virtual classes recently.
“I do not believe you can have a blanket policy for the entire state,” said Scott Mangas, Ottoville schools superintendent. “Different areas of the state have spiked at different times throughout this pandemic. We had 85 (65 in grades 6-12) students out either positive or quarantined on Nov. 12, 2020, so we went virtual with our grades 6-12 from Nov. 16th through to Dec. 4th. Today, Dec. 7, 2020, we are all back in the building, we have only four students out, all of which are contact traced to an adult outside of our building.”
Ottawa-Glandorf schools’ leader also said the district believes in local control.
“We are a reflection of our local communities, and each district needs to do what is best for their students, staff, schools and their community,” said Don Horstman, Ottawa-Glandorf schools superintendent. “One of the best things Gov. DeWine has done is to allow local schools to practice local control and work with local health departments to adapt our policies and procedures to what works best at our level. The last thing we need is a blanket reset/restart policy for all of the school districts in Ohio.”
Wapakoneta schools has been flexible during the pandemic, superintendent Aaron Rex said.
“During the course of this year, we have done our best to have students in school five days a week. However, if there has been a spike in the number of students sick or quarantined, we have adjusted our plan,” Rex said. “I don’t see January or the remainder of the school year being treated any differently. I understand the OEA wants what is best for everyone in the schools, and that is our main goal as well.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.