PARMA, Ohio — The Parma City School District has decided to follow the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s recommendation to begin the school year remotely for the first nine weeks of the 2020-21 school year, the district said in a statement on Facebook.
Superintendent Charles Smialek told News 5 the decision was made based on a number of factors, including community spread of COVID-19 and limited capacity to test children for the virus.
"The County Board of Health certainly has the most local investments and the most local knowledge," Smialek said. "When they make that recommendation, that’s something that we really have to weigh. We did and we feel that we should follow that recommendation."
All student-based extracurricular activities remain suspended. The district said the Parma Virtual Learning Academy (PVLA) is also suspended. All students will begin their year with their regularly assigned teacher. Families who registered for PVLA do not need to do anything at this time because the district will hold the reservation for confirmation before in-person classes resume.
"When we are ready to come back in person, and we certainly hope that’s sooner than later, the Parma Virtual Learning Academy will be an option for families who are simply not comfortable sending their children back," Smialek said.
Danielle Waskowski said she will elect to have her children attend class virtually past the first nine weeks of the school year because of pre-existing health conditions at home.
"I did kind of toss it around about having my older two go to school and staying home," Waskowski said. "You know, doing the mixed learning, but we also have asthmatics in the house, so that was one of the decisions."
The district said it plans to release more details in the coming days. The district is developing parent academies to help families learn how to better assist with their child’s learning experiences.
"That was something that we heard loudly and clearly from our parents and we know that we have to do a better job in terms of the remote learning," Smialek said. "We’ve had time to prepare and we have some more time to prepare now."
Online instruction for Parma City School District students will begin Tuesday, Sept. 8.
To date, other districts such as Akron, Copley-Fairlawn, and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, to name a few, have decided to begin the school year with remote learning.