While Ohio's economy will begin the process of reopening on May 1, the same won't be happening for the state's schools.
On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the state's K-12 schools will remain closed through the remainder of the current school year. Ohio's schools have been closed since March 16 due to concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In making his announcement, DeWine cited a number of factors, including the continued presence of the virus and concerns about continuity from the state's administrators and teachers. DeWine also stressed that with schools closed, students will continue learning remotely.
DeWine said that while no decisions have been made on whether or not schools will reopen in the fall, they are already preparing for multiple scenarios. One scenario that has been discussed -- but not decided on -- is a "blended" system, in which some students would continue learning from home, while others would return to physical buildings.
With schools closed for the remainder of the academic year, DeWine expressed concern for the following groups of students:
- Children with special developmental needs
- Children with health challenges
- Kids with no or limited access to the internet
- Children who do not have supportive home lives.
Parma City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Charles Smialek says he's pleased with the decision Dewine made to continue remote learning to close the school year.
"We will open again but we need more time to learn about the virus hopefully have more testing, secure the supplies we need," he says.
According to Smialek, leadership teams are working to develop plans which would include a dramatic increase in the availability of hand sanitizing stations, wipes and thermometers.
They're also discussing what's considered essential and what they could eliminate to maximize social distancing.
"Do seniors who are close to graduating, can they take a couple of classes online, is that the type of model we might want to pursue these are all conversations we're going to have to have going forward," says Smialek.
Lorain City Schools Interim CEO Greg Ring also says nothing is set in stone but their plan could include a mix of virtual and in-person learning.
"I'm real concerned this will be a real challenge for all of us to figure out how to social distance if that's what we're still doing in August," he says.
As of Monday, Ohio has had 12,919 positive coronavirus cases, including 2,653 hospitalizations, 798 ICU admissions and 509 deaths. Dating back to the discovery of Ohio's first positive coronavirus case on March 9, DeWine has put a number of measures in place to encourage physical distancing, including a stay-at-home order since March 23. Last week, DeWine announced that the state is preparing to begin the process of reopening its economy when the current stay-at-home order expires on May 1.