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School Districts Want Flexibility From Ohio Lawmakers to Deal With Unexpected COVID Issues

 Will Schwartz,  Ohio School Boards Association
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Will Schwartz with the Ohio School Boards Association says school districts in Ohio that didn't submit a plan that included the flexibility to move school online again this school year are now asking for the flexibility to do so amid this current wave of rising COVID-19 cases.

Schools throughout Ohio are dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19. Some have temporarily shut down. Others have gone to remote learning until the situation gets under control.

How a school district can react is based on the plans they set forth this summer when COVID cases didn't pose much of a threat to in-school learning.

About half of the state's more than 600 public school districts have submitted paperwork with the state to provide a blended learning model, according to Will Schwartz with the Ohio School Boards Association. That means they intended and planned from the onset of this school year to be remote for part of it.

Schwartz says 323 public school districts, 26 career centers, and four educational service centers have submitted a blended learning declaration for the current school year. In total, that's about one-half of the 711 statewide districts, career centers, and ESCs.

But now that COVID poses a threat, Schwartz says schools that intended to be in-person all year are seeking options.

“What school districts are asking for is a similar remote learning flexibility from last school year where they can pivot on a day to address a staffing shortage by bus drivers or educators or illnesses in the classrooms or through quarantine," Schwartz said.

Schwartz is hoping lawmakers prioritize giving this authority to districts when they return to the Statehouse later this month.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.