BY D’ARCY EGAN
The Port Clinton School District will begin a “hybrid” schedule of classes when school opens on Monday, Aug. 31, said Supt. Patrick Adkins, who agreed a combination of in-person and remote learning was the best format for starting the new school year.
On March 12, Gov. Mike DeWine made an unprecedented announcement ordering all of Ohio’s public, community and private K-12 school buildings to be closed to students due to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. Remote learning took its place, and Adkins praised the Port Clinton schools and teachers for adapting to the new normal, while working with students and their families.
The hybrid format being put in place on Aug. 31 in order to return to in-school classes will have about 50% of students in school two days a week and will offer at-home Remote Learning 2.0 three days a week.
The hybrid plan will call for smaller classes than with a full return of students, limit student movement and promote social distancing of six to eight feet.
Adkins presented Plans A, B and C to the PCSD during a Monday morning school board meeting. Plan A is a typical five-day school week with a lot of protections. Plan B is the hybrid plan, with even smaller class sizes in school, limited student movement and social distancing of at least 6 feet.
Plan C would be homeschooling with defined expectations and accountability, instruction plans and assignments, greater engagement and connection, and greater access to teachers for students and parents.
“The school district will also provide online learning options for students and parents not ready for the kids to return in school in person,” said Adkins.
“It was good to get out there and get input from teachers, parents, students and businesses. I think Plan B, the hybrid schedule, is the best way to start. We can get 6- to 8-foot social distance everywhere, and have smaller groups. Once we’re comfortable with the numbers in our area, we can adjust to Plan A.”
Adkins wants to build the confidence of teachers and families, and combine a lot of different things into a safe model for in-school classes. The Aug. 31 opening day is traditional, and was not adjusted for the pandemic.
“We’ll have a safety committee meeting every week, made up of board members, parents, teachers and school people. Plan B will help us attack that, with protection equipment like desk shields,” he said. “Kids in the beginning will wear masks, and practice sanitation while managing requirements and distancing.”
The system will be much like a substitute teacher coming to a class for the first time, said Adkins. The first time you’re in a new classroom, you’re really strict in order to get the kids’ attention, then ease up as you go. The safe models will be strictly enforced, and then loosened up as everyone becomes aware of what is needed to be safe.
“Plan B will be a whole lot easier to implement with only half of the kids in school,” said Adkins. “We won’t have to second guess anyone, and each of us will look at things a little differently to achieve our goals of safety and well being.
“We are well aware that teachers can’t teach and students can’t learn if they are scared. And all three plans can be used at different times of year. They’ve got to be fluid so we can roll in and out all three plans pretty seamlessly.”