Coronavirus: Miami Valley Schools plan for reopening

Coronavirus: Miami Valley Schools plan for reopening

MIAMI VALLEY — Memorial Day is traditionally a time for school districts to slow down and focus on finishing the current academic year. Now though there’s the added task of planning for the comeback from the closure forced by COVID-19.

All schools in Ohio have been shut down since mid-March. They may be coming back in August, but even that is not certain.

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Beavercreek City Schools Superintendent Paul Otten said they are still looking at their options. “We would love to have our kids back. We would love to have things go back to normal but obviously with what we are facing with that we are uncertain if that is a possibility at this point,” Otten said.

Gov. Mike DeWine, in general terms, has talked about students returning to the classroom. As late as last week he was hopeful that it could happen while keeping kids safe.

He said the final decisions on how that would take place are up to local boards of education.

"Based on their school, their buildings, their bus routes, how they can protect the kids,” DeWine said. His comment came as the state Department of Education issued a draft report on restarting classes in the fall. That report recommended students be kept apart by six feet where possible and that all staff and students wear a mask or face covering throughout the school day.

Otten and other educators say their problems extended beyond the buildings. Busing presents a list of other challenges. If a bus cannot carry a large number of students, then they may have to make multiple trips, which would add to district expenses.

Otten said he is asking parents in the district for patience and their opinions. “One thing that we as a district need to do and I wouldn’t be surprised if other districts are doing this is reaching out to our families seeing what their expectations are as we start planning for next school year to see where their comfort zone is to see what we would be able to institute to get our students back into the classroom,“ he said.

DeWine and the state education department are expected to issue additional guidance to local districts in the next few weeks.