By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Schools students will return to their classrooms on March 22.
On March 9, the Groveport Madison Board of Education approved a school re-opening plan, by a vote of 4-1, to return students to the schools for regular in-person instruction. Most students had been in a blended learning model that consisted of students being split into two separate groups attending school two days per week and receiving online instruction three days per week.
“We will support our children in every aspect,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden regarding the planned re-opening of the schools.
Under the plan:
•Students will return to in-person classroom instruction for four days a week from March 22 to April 30. Wednesdays are reserved for state testing during this period.
•Students will return to in-person classroom instruction five days a week from May 3 to June 3.
•Students in the Cruiser Digital Academy will continue in fully remote learning for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
•Masks are required and safety and health protocols will be in place.
Ogden said the district conducted a survey of high school students, staff, and parents, before recommending the re-opening plan to the board. In the survey, 1,524 parents, 605 staff members, and 254 high school students responded.
Survey results indicated 60 percent of parents, 49 percent of students, and 38 percent of staff felt the students were not receiving a quality education under the blended learning model. All three groups felt it better to return to school five days a week with 81 percent of parents believing so, 65 percent of students, and 57 percent of staff. Regarding whether students’ social and emotional well being was negatively impacted by remote learning, 83 percent of parents, 89 percent of staff, and 72 percent of students said yes. When asked if knowing that the staff was vaccinated and safety procedures were in place, would they be comfortable returning to school, 83 percent of parents, 73 percent of staff, and 78 percent of students said yes.
Board member Kathy Walsh voted against the re-opening plan. She felt the board needed more time to review the plan and asked for the vote to be held at a later date, but the other board members did not agree and voted to approve the plan.
“This is a pretty important issue,” said Walsh, questioning whether the board was adequately informed to vote on the resolution without further review.
Walsh also questioned wording in the resolution regarding the plan that gives Ogden the ability to amend the plan as she determines to be necessary to address any changing circumstances, such as another big outbreak of COVID-19. Walsh wanted the wording removed, but the other board members decided to keep it in the resolution.
Board President Libby Gray noted the board had given the superintendent the authority to handle pandemic related issues at a previous meeting.