(Posted Aug. 14, 2020)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
Jefferson Local Schools is moving forward with plans to re-open its schools, albeit under advisement from the Madison County Health Commissioner and not until Sept. 8.
Norwood Elementary students will still attend school five days a week or have the option to use an e-learning format due to smaller class numbers and larger room size.
However, middle and high school students will use a hybrid model with half of the students attending on Monday and Tuesday (Group A) and the other half attending on Thursday and Friday (Group B).
According to the district, the other three days when students are not in the building, they will participate in e-learning. Group assignment information will be released later this month and on Wednesdays the buildings will be cleaned thoroughly.
School board members approved Superintendent William Mullett’s re-opening plan during an Aug. 10 meeting.
“Whether it is the right thing or the wrong thing, with all of the political pressure and the health department issues that we had to work through, Mr. Mullett I commend you for those efforts of outstanding patience in working with the different entities,” said Board President David Harper.
The change affords students a better chance of maintaining a six-foot distance and less students having to be quarantined if there is a positive COVID-19 case.
Students can still participate in the 100 percent e-learning option if they do not want to choose the hybrid model. A newsletter recently mailed to the community was printed a month ago due to publishing requirements with an incorrect starting date.
Opening date for all students is Sept 8.
“We, as a board, appreciate that when school starts, that we see some of the results,” said Harper. “I hope, in the near future, we have the opportunity to review and evaluate this plan as to how it is affecting our students and affects our schools in the normal process.”
Mullett said the number of students at Norwood selecting the e-learning option reduced the in-school number of students by 75. That, coupled with an overall lower class size, allowed the district to go to full week in-building classes at the elementary school.
“The smaller numbers allowed us to keep the six-foot social distance,” said Mullett.
Students must also wear masks while riding school buses. Mullett said the district is making few changes in regard to school transportation, but to comply with the health commissioner advisements, windows must remain open on buses. Buses will be disinfected twice a day.
“There’s just no way on a 60-passenger bus to transport just 10 students. Nobody has extra buses or extra drivers to get it all done on time,” said Mullett. “Taking these measures will allow us to continue transporting students.”
However, he said the district currently has no idea about the status of sports or extracurricular activities.
More information can be found at: www.west-jefferson.k12.oh.us/reopen.aspx