As the first of day of school for students approaches on Aug. 24, the Miami Trace Local School District is preparing to teach over 400 students via its new online program.
“We have approximately 16 percent (or 428 out of 2,600) of our student population registered for our special online program titled, Panther Virtual Academy,” Miami Trace Superintendent Kim Pittser said this week. “Again, this is the virtual option provided to families who are not comfortable with any version of the in-person return.”
The registration for this program was closed for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year as of Tuesday with the district asking families to make a semester commitment to the program.
“Staff assignments along with additional educational training and processes have to be implemented to properly cover this special program,” Pittser said. “We wish to ensure our parents the curriculum assigned adheres to our local and state standards, and this is an effective experience for the students. We do not have plans to re-open the enrollment at this time. We must conclude our enrollment to ensure all students are assigned to appropriate teachers and as our teachers return Thursday (Aug. 13), we must have rosters complete.”
In addition to preparing for online learning, Pittser also updated the district with a few additional details concerning the re-opening of the district. First, due to a recent order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, all students will be required to wear face coverings. Those students with a physical health or “documented medical exemption” can inform their building principals.
Secondly, Pittser reminded the district that they must be prepared to transition among any of the three learning plans which are available to view on the district website and were reported in the Record-Herald.
“Currently, Miami Trace is scheduled to return in Plan A-traditional setting,” Pittser said. “We will continue to work with our local health department and monitor the community status of the health alert system.”
As part of this continuing collaboration with Fayette County Public Health to monitor the situation, Deputy Health Commissioner Leigh Cannon released general guidance for local school districts as they prepare to resume classes within a couple weeks. The topics that are within the document include what will happen if a student or a member of the staff is confirmed with a case of COVID-19, how to handle any other non-COVID-19 health issue and potential changes to classroom sizes, food service, visitors and volunteer policies, transportation and recesses.
For instance, the document explains that if a student or staff member receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the parents and staff will be informed which classroom the case was confirmed — though there will be no identification of the individuals — and all determined to have been in close contact with the individual will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Another detail is the reduction of occupancy for the districts as well as visitors being discouraged from being in school facilities.
“It is essential for schools to reinforce to students, parents or caregivers, and staff the importance of students staying home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever — temperature of 100 or higher — or signs of a fever — chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or sweating — without the use of fever-reducing medicine,” the document reads. “Policies that encourage and support staying home when sick will help prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-19 (and other illnesses including flu) and help keep schools open. Thank you for the great collaboration between the school districts and Fayette Public Health Department during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The information in this article was provided by Fayette County Public Health and Miami Trace Local Schools.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.