Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) and Miami Trace Local Schools are expected to return to regular in-person, full-week instruction on Monday, Jan 11.
In November, WCHCS and Miami Trace officials both decided — with a recommendation from Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) — to move to a hybrid model of education due to the potential spread of COVID-19 from the holidays. Both districts continued to utilize their hybrid plans throughout December and into winter break.
As of Monday — according to information from WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communication Trevor Patton and Miami Trace Superintendent Kim Pittser — during a meeting with FCPH, the districts decided that students could return following a new adjustment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health for a 10-day incubation period for COVID-19. Taking into account the holiday break and New Year celebrations, a return date of Monday, Jan 11 would provide the 10 days needed.
“Our team worked diligently over the summer to build a comprehensive system of policies and procedures to protect the health and safety of our students and staff, as well as give us the best chance at remaining fully in person this school year,” Patton said. “For more information on these comprehensive processes, you can find them on our website at wchcs.org/coronavirus. Additionally, we will continue to follow the guidelines set by the Ohio Department of Health and Governor DeWine. We will be working with FCPH to follow the updated guidance from Governor DeWine in regards to the new regulations with quarantines.”
According to Patton, as of Dec. 24 the Ohio Department of Health shows WCHCS with 10 new student cases, 48 cumulative student cases, and 16 cumulative staff cases.
“If our community wants the Blue Lions to continue to learn in person at any capacity this school year, it is imperative that we all remain disciplined in our mask wearing, social distancing, proper hygiene, and avoiding large gatherings and crowds,” Patton said. “Encourage not only your household, but your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same. Our ability to remain in school is dependent on the COVID-19 situation across Fayette County, so this effort will take all of us. We understand that hybrid learning has brought a new set of challenges that we’ve had to learn to overcome, and our teachers worked incredibly preparing to implement these new systems and processes to educate our students no matter where they are in the event we had to move to hybrid or remote learning. We are incredibly proud of our students and staff as they have worked together in creative ways to continue to engage, inspire, and grow during this hybrid period. Blue Lions are resilient, and these past months have continued to prove that.”
Pittser said Monday that Miami Trace spent approximately 67 percent of the first semester utilizing “Plan A-Full Capacity in-person learning.” The other 33 percent was spent in Plan B-Hybrid that provided at least some in-person and a weekly opportunity for face-to-face check-ins with students.
“Recently reflecting on our first semester COVID data with health department nurse, Mrs. Emily Bower, it was pointed out that at one point in time, we were pushing over 250 quarantined individuals district-wide, so the transition to Hybrid was very productive in allowing us to minimize the quarantines being ordered,” Pittser said.
During the last couple weeks of the Hybrid schedule prior to Miami Trace’s winter break, the district ran trials of the “Plan C-Full Remote learning” with the goal over the two trial days (Dec. 9 and 16) of evaluating the true synchronous learning options among the student body. According to instructional technology director, Amy Gustin, from the start of the school year, Miami Trace has distributed cellular connection hot spots to approximately 600 students using the Broadband Connectivity Funds along with Corona Virus Relief Funds.
“We knew these Plan C trials could help us see just how many students were capable of logging on and fully participating in ‘live’ lessons during designated times versus watching recordings or completing online assignments like those found in the Plan B-Hybrid virtual days,” said Pittser. “Our administrative team and technology department continue to analyze our findings in order to improve all processes. Our immediate plan is to return in Plan A-Full Capacity beginning January 11th. We want to thank our families and community members for their flexibility and support during this past semester. While we know that the pandemic is not over, we recognize the efforts that have been made over these past nine months, and they are greatly appreciated. We will continue to enforce all protocols and serve the students at Miami Trace keeping health and safety at the forefront.”
Finally, Pittser also said on Monday the district had four staff cases and 11 student cases of COVID-19.
Reach Martin Graham on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.