Some local K-12 schools prepare to keep teaching if coronavirus shuts them down

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 06:27:00-04

For now, Governor Mike DeWine has advised K-12 schools to continue classes as normal, but he’s not ruling out the possibility of school closures.

“I think people should be thinking, parents, principals, superintendents, teachers,” Governor Mike DeWine said, “About what would happen if these schools had to be closed.”

A handful of Northeast Ohio schools are getting prepared to keep teaching if schools are required to shut down.

Superintendent Robert Hunt said he's “just trying to instill a sense of calm and yet being prepared and ready and making sure our students and parents feel comfortable."

Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools will close its doors to students as staff members train for the possibility of moving to online classwork.

Hunt said educators will be trained on tablets and laptops while designing online curriculum to prepare for potential at-home learning instruction.

“There’s a lot of logistical things you have to figure out and work through,” Hunt said.

The district is equipped to issue tablets and laptops to all students if need be.

“Now we have asked our parents especially at the elementary levels, if you have a device at home, we won’t necessarily send ours home with the students,” Hunt said.

Hunt mentioned additional concerns about some students’ lack of internet access at home.

Friday’s training will also consist of creating a game plan for students who don’t have those at-home online capabilities.

Hunt said Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools are doing the best they can to prepare a long-term game plan before students are dismissed for spring break on March 20.

“You’ve got that potential of a lot of students traveling, not only from our districts but all districts, going to other states and coming back and this could really become an issue come April and May,” Hunt said.

Several other school districts are following similar procedures.

Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools will release students early Thursday.

The district issued this statement on its Facebook page:

“Newcomerstown Schools will have an early release day Thursday March 12th at 1pm. This is being done to provide staff members with a dedicated time to address the district's action plan regarding the current health concerns in the state.”

Twinsburg City School District will close its doors to students Friday so teachers can prepare for the possibility of setting up virtual classrooms.

This is a portion of a statement sent to parents from Twinsburg City Schools:

“Finally, due to the importance of continuing instruction should a school or district be closed due to COVID-19, the Twinsburg Board of Education has authorized Friday, March 13, 2020 as a non-student curriculum day so that our staff members have an opportunity to finalize the development of instructional plans that are rich in content, standards-based and that are easily accessible by our students. Students will not have school this Friday.”

Brecksville-Broadview Heights City Schools District will be closed March 16.

Health experts are also reminding the public that children are reportedly not the population most at-risk.

“Rates among children are much lower at this time than adults,” Terry Allan said.

Allan, with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, suggested closing schools may pose a greater danger to the public.

“Keeping children out of school could increase the risk that they might expose older people,” Allan said.

Federal, state and local officials called the coronavirus a very fluid situation.

“As this situation progresses, we need to continue to assess this daily,” Allan said.

News 5 will continuously share updates regarding school closures on air and online.