YOUNGSTOWN – Two of the three Ohio school districts that were taken over by the state for having consecutive failed grades on the state report have already reopened their doors to students.
The Youngstown City School District is the one stop shop and is expected to announce a personal opening schedule later this week.
Schools in East Cleveland opened buildings four days a week in January, and schools in Lorain City also opened for face-to-face teaching and learning in a hybrid model in mid-January.
These three districts are under the supervision of the State Academic Emergency Commission because they have not had state diploma grades for at least four years.
Governor Mike DeWine criticized the Ohio school districts last week for agreeing with the state to open a personal school by March 1 so their employees can get the coronavirus vaccine – but have not yet opened. He specifically mentioned Youngstown.
Mahoning County’s school districts, including Youngstown, were among the first in the state to receive the vaccines.
However, according to the Ohio Department of Education, Youngstown is one of nine school districts in the state that are still completely remote. The majority of the state’s school districts, 411, work in person five days a week, and 189 work in a hybrid model, where students work in person several days a week and remotely on the other school days.
Youngstown Schools spokeswoman Denise Dick said the district will not release any information about its reopening plan for the school until it makes an official announcement this week.
“We want to communicate information internally first,” said Dick.
Ronald Shadd, president of the Youngstown Board of Education, and his former president Brenda Kimble have each said that the school’s CEO, Justin Jennings, has not communicated with the board about the district’s reopening plans.
“The CEO said the district would reopen when it is safe for scientists,” Shadd said.
Shadd agreed that ensuring the safety of students, their families, and district workers should be paramount when deciding whether to open buildings.
“We had a meeting where some parents asked why DeWine was pushing to force schools to open,” Shadd said. “From what I’ve gathered, some parents feel that their children are thriving under a remote system.”
Shadd suggests that parents should be able to allow their children to stay at home and continue to receive remote education.
“Some parents question the benefit of getting children back to school for 16 weeks,” he said.
Based on the first vaccine launch, Shadd said most teachers won’t have received their second vaccine dose by the first week of March.
Kimble said the many parents she spoke to will not send their children back to the regular classrooms.
“You don’t feel safe,” said Kimble.
EAST CLEVELAND, LORAIN
Henry Pettigrew II, CEO / superintendent of East Cleveland Schools since 2019, said the district returned to face-to-face classes four days a week on Jan. 19. Pettigrew said it was decided shortly after schools closed last March not to allow students to return to face-to-face classes until January.
“We knew then that it would take time to reopen as East Cleveland is the state’s least connected district,” said Pettigrew. “We had to rebuild our digital footprint and strengthen broadband capabilities.”
Pettigrew said the district could address these shortcomings with donations from organizations such as a Cleveland Browns player and receipt of two federal government grants from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Fund. The school district should receive a total of $ 10,609,115 in ESSER I and ESSER II funding.
“These funds were very important so we could buy the PPE, electrostatic cleaning machines, and other equipment needed to reopen our schools,” said Pettigrew.
The CEO / Superintendent stated that reopening schools for personal tuition is important as concerns grow over the loss of learning for some students.
The district also fought chronic absenteeism among students taking correspondence courses.
Part of the funding donated to the district by Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns was used to create ZOOM rooms where teachers can collaborate with students in classrooms and distance learners using video technology.
The district currently has students taking personal classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and distance learning on Wednesdays.
Lorain County, meanwhile, began offering in-person tuition to elementary and middle school students, with one cohort taking classes on Mondays and Tuesdays and a second group taking classes on Thursdays and Fridays.
Students have the option to stay away. Personal and remote classes are taught simultaneously.
Lorain has an estimated 5,000 students. The participants in the courses in the buildings were allocated seats in the cafeteria and on buses. Siblings and family units are kept in the same cohort and sit together on buses, according to the district website.
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