CHESTERLAND, Ohio — When students head back to school Tuesday in the West Geauga School District, the halls will be largely empty as the district begins its 2020-2021 school year virtually.
West Geauga Local Schools chose to begin the year with all students taking classes o-line for the first three weeks. After that, parents had the choice of sending their students to school in-person or continuing to take classes on-line.
"This year it's weird," said George Vidonish, father to a first and third-grader at Westwood Elementary School. "It's like okay, we have to pick up the stuff and go home and figure out where the Chromebooks are going to, figure out where the kids are going to separated."
The Vidoshishs are among 20% of Westwood parents who decided to keep their kids at home and continue with virtual learning.
"We decided on virtual, we kind of weren't sure how the year would end up anyway, so we wanted to kind of establish our routine now and continue on for the year," said Jennifer Vidonish.
But as parents filed through a line outside the school Monday to pick up supplies and welcome kits, others were counting down the days until back-to-school meant kids returning to the building.
"They miss their teachers, they miss their friends so they're looking forward to going back," said Maggie Zock, a mother of three. "We work full-time and we feel if we're home, we're doing a disservice either to our employers or to our kids, so we took advantage of the in-person option."
Districtwide, about 70% of West Geauga's 2,000 students are expected to return to classes for the first semester. School administrators will continue monitoring the situation with coronavirus and said they'll make adjustments to learning if they're needed.
In the meantime, the focus is on getting students ready to return to school. In some cases, that meant handing out computers so that students will be able to take part in virtual learning.
Five months into the pandemic, parents seemed ready to roll with whatever the new school year brings.
"It's the new normal, right," said George Vidonish. "You're getting so used to these awkward situations where nothing's surprising anymore."