Fairfield schools sees decrease in quarantines

District exploring preschool, internship options

By McKenzie Caldwell - [email protected]



The Fairfield Local School District has experienced a decrease in quarantines since transitioning to its blended learning plan last week, superintendent Tim Dettwiller reported at the district’s Monday board of education meeting.

“We have already reduced our quarantine net,” Dettwiller said. “Since last week, we’ve had three positive cases — two of those had no quarantines whatsoever.”

In one case, Dettwiller reported that the student was off-campus and completing schoolwork virtually 48 hours prior to the onset of Covid symptoms, which eliminated close contact with other students in a classroom setting.

In another case, the student was present on campus, but no students were quarantined as the district is able to increase social distancing under the blended learning plan.

As of Tuesday, Fairfield had seven positive cases involving students, with 156 students and three staff members in quarantine, according to the district’s COVID-19 report. However, Dettwiller expects quarantine numbers to drop dramatically next week as students and staff members return from quarantine.

On Dec. 3, district administrators will reassess and announce whether schools will continue to follow the blended learning plan or return to full-time, in-person learning on the following Monday, Dec. 7.

“It’s working, and it’s exactly what we hoped for,” Dettwiller said.

Fairfield’s plans for both blended and remote learning are available at fairfieldlocal.org.

Dettwiller stressed that even if the district is required to transition to remote learning, teachers will continue to instruct students.

“That was one of the critical things that we wanted to make sure of: that parents were not teaching. Teachers are teaching,” Dettwiller said. “If we go to fully remote, that’s the difference between last year and this year: we’re prepared to do that.”

Fairfield transitioned to its blended learning model on Nov. 19. Fairfield schools will follow on the blended learning plan until Friday, Dec. 4, according to a statement on the district’s website.

Under the blended learning plan, Fairfield students are separated into two groups denoted “Group A” and “Group B.” Students from the same household were placed in the same group. Group A students attend in-person classes all day on Monday and Tuesday and then complete coursework virtually on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Group B students complete coursework virtually on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then attend in-person classes all day on Thursday and Friday.

The district uses Wednesday for teacher planning, updating Google Classroom, and deep-cleaning school buildings.

Students learn using a combination of live Google Meet sessions and activities assigned in Google Classroom. Teachers take attendance daily during Google Meet classes and based on evidence of participation in Google Classroom. Grading policies remain the same.

Fairfield schools previously closed on Oct. 20 due to staffing issues related to COVID-19 quarantines. While classes at the middle and high schools resumed the following day, the elementary school remained closed for the remainder of the week as the number of elementary staff members in quarantine or isolation resulted in inadequate staffing.

At the district’s Oct. 19 board of education meeting, Dettwiller stated that the blended learning model would help cut back what he calls the “quarantine net,” which refers to quarantine standards that lead to the quarantine of those who spend more than 15 minutes within six feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I told the staff last week: Your mask protects you and the other person you’re with from Covid; the six-foot distancing protects you from the quarantine net,” Dettwiller said on Oct. 19.

In other news from the meeting:

* Dettwiller informed board members that Fairfield Elementary Principal Katie Streber has assembled a preschool committee with the goal of implementing a preschool program for the district. Streber reported that committee members are researching other preschool programs in the area and preschool curricula as well as other factors, such as the best location for the preschool program.

* Fairfield Local is partnering with Greenfield Exempted Village School District (GEVSD) to create internship programs for Fairfield and GEVSD students, Dettwiller reported.

Dettwiller said he and GEVSD Superintendent Quincey Gray aim to gather a pool of 10 to 12 local employers to give students broader experiences in these employers’ industries.

“They have the opportunity to move around and see what they like before they spend money at college or build their profession,” Dettwiller said.

The districts hope to implement the internship programs next year, according to Dettwiller.

* Athletic director Tony Williams reported that he and coaches aim to maximize the number of games the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams play this season.

This includes partnering with other districts to share officials, which are in short supply, and dividing teams based on grade level in an attempt to mitigate potential exposure to COVID-19 as much as possible.

Because Fairfield High School’s gym can only accommodate a maximum of 146 people under current public health orders, the families of student-athletes — both home and away — can only purchase a maximum of two tickets for boys’ games and four tickets for girls’ games.

These tickets should be purchased online prior to the game using a student’s code.

Community members who cannot attend games can still watch them. The district purchased a Hudl Focus camera, which automatically tracks the ball during games.

Games will be broadcast live on the Fairfield Local Events YouTube account at no cost.

Williams said the district plans to use the camera not only to film home basketball games but also to broadcast soccer, baseball and softball games, and band and choir concerts, and graduation.

Williams hopes to continue using the Hudl camera and online ticketing system after sports seasons return to normal.

Dettwiller previously stated that extracurricular activities will continue as scheduled under the blending learning plan unless Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health, or the Ohio High School Athletic Association direct otherwise.

* During treasurer Mike Morrow’s presentation of the district’s five-year financial forecast, Morrow reported that data available as of November 2020 suggests that the district’s expenditures will continue to rise while the district’s revenue will not change significantly.

* The district recently held a lockdown drill, which Dettwiller said helped administrators identify areas for improvement.

During the drill, district administrators learned that the power supply for the lights that signal an intruder is in the building was interrupted. As a result, the district will test these lights once a month before or after the school day in order to ensure they function correctly.

The drill took place in between classes, which made the drill more challenging as students had to go to the correct room, Dettwiller said. Ultimately, Dettwiller said the drill went “very well.”

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.

District exploring preschool, internship options

By McKenzie Caldwell

[email protected]