Students go back to remote learning

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The South-Western City Schools District will not have in-person instruction for the remainder of the year.

On Nov. 19, Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise announced that the district would transition back to a 100 percent remote learning model and stay in that model through winter break. He cited recommendations from state and county public health officials for making that determination.

“When we were reviewing the most recent (COVID-19) data, we looked at the community conditions and could see that they were worsening,” Wise said. “In just a matter of weeks, we have seen a dramatic increase in case counts and positivity rates and we believed that it would soon become increasingly more difficult to operate our schools safely.”

When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the state and county public health officials announced the most recent stay-at-home recommendations through Dec. 20, it did not mandate that schools cease in-person instruction as it did in March when the novel coronavirus was first introduced in the state. Instead, the officials advised the transition take place as they have projected another surge after the Thanksgiving holiday. Wise said following their advice was just another factor that played into the district’s decision to transition back to the remote learning model.

“We have followed all state, county and federal recommendations to slow the spread and we have seen little community spread in our schools while in the blended learning model,” he said. “However, all of our students and all of our staff are members of the greater community and now we have begun to see more absences in our student body and our personnel. It is becoming increasingly harder to staff our schools due to these conditions.”

According to the most recent data posted on the district’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there are 38 students and 20 staff members who tested positive for the virus. There are 306 students and 58 staff members who were considered “close contact exposures” and are in isolation or quarantine. Those numbers also include the students and educators who are participating in the Virtual Learning Academy.

Wise said student and staff absenteeism was expected during this pandemic and the district did take measures to mitigate extended absences from educators. He added that the issue the district is currently facing is finding substitute teachers to fill in for those absences.

“That is another reason why we have decided to transition back to the remote learning model,” he said. “It is getting harder to find substitutes who are as willing to fill in as we had in the past.”

With the transition back to remote learning for the remainder of the year, Wise said he is hopeful that the beginning of 2021 will see more favorable conditions and a return to the blended learning model. However, he did not commit to having the students and staff back in the classroom come the week of Jan. 4.

“We have to take a wait and see approach and follow the recommendations of the public health officials,” he said.

He added that the district will provide an update on Dec. 17 regarding future scheduling plans.

In related news, all extra-curricular and co-curricular performances, contests, and scrimmages are canceled until Dec.17. District officials said they will reevaluate this decision at that time.












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