COLUMBUS — Ohio’s K-12 schools will continue remote learning for the rest of the current academic year and there is no guarantee that won’t continue in the fall.
Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement this week during his daily media briefing, saying that despite a positive trend, the coronavirus continues.
“To go back to school now with a relatively small amount of time left by a large number of superintendents, principals, others, who’ve expressed to me that that that’s probably not a good idea even if the health situation was resolved, which obviously it’s not,” DeWine said. “We have flattened the curve, but it remains dangerous. The situation is fluid. We now have eight or nine days straight of fairly straight line in regards to hospitalizations. That’s good news. We’ll feel a lot better when they start going down. “
DeWine said no decision about the 2020-21 school year has been made but hinted there could be a blended system.
“We are simply not in a position yet to make that decision,” he said. “I’m happy to say though that schools are, in fact, already preparing for the fall. They’re thinking about how they would handle the situation if they were back in school, how they would try to do what they could in regard to social distancing and to run the school as well. I applaud them for that. I was really impressed and delighted by all the thinking going into this already.”
Under a blended system, there could be some distance learning and some in-person learning, DeWine said.
“That’s just a possibility and also each school district is going to be different,” he said. “As these decisions are made we’re going to allow a great deal of flexibility, as we should, for the local schools because what they find in their district, how their district looks is very different. Akron City Schools are different than the Switzerland School District.”
In making the decision to keep schools closed for the rest of the current academic year, DeWine said there is concern that kids could go to school and come home with the possibility of spreading the virus either at school or home.
He said the safety of students, families, teachers and parents is “very, very important.”
Moving forward, DeWine expressed concern for certain groups of students who have to take part in remote learning — children with special needs, children who have health challenges, children with limited or no access to the internet, and children without a supportive home life.
“We have to remember these students,” DeWine said. “As we plan ahead … I think these are some kids that we need to be particularly concerned about.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria said his office will continue to work to “provide Ohio students with the best possible experience given the circumstances for the remainder of the school year.”
“We realize this was a very difficult decision for the governor — we appreciate his leadership,” DeMaria said in a statement posted on the ODE’s website. “We are going to get through this the same way we’ve gotten this far — together. We also understand that there will be many questions stemming from today’s announcement. The Ohio Department of Education remains committed to providing answers as they become available. Finally, I want to thank students, staff, families and caregivers who have demonstrated incredible flexibility and can-do spirit in the face of this public health emergency. I am so inspired by how hard you’ve worked to adapt and respond to this situation. Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and enthusiasm.”