Butler County students return to changed plans in many districts this week

For thousands of area students, the second half of the school year begins this week as they return to learning during the coronavirus pandemic and after a winter holiday break.

Some school systems in Butler County and southern Warren County have scheduled a remote schedule for the initial days and weeks of the start of the second semester.

Others will conduct a hybrid schedule with students, divided alphabetically, to ease back into in-person classes while keeping school building attendance down through the early part of January.

Area school officials made the changes before classes shut down as scheduled around Dec. 18. Concerns relayed by local, county and state health officials about the possibility of the break may turn into a “super spreader” event of coronavirus infections prompted the delaying of live classes.

When in-person classes do resume as planned, a major part of the coronavirus prevention plan will have been changed.

Last week saw Ohio Governor Mike DeWine order new, less restrictive rules for student quarantining designed to lessen the numbers forced to stay home after being in proximity of classmates who tested positive for the virus.

School officials said the initial 14-day mandatory quarantining, which last month was lowered to seven days in most cases, was excessive and added to the sometimes chaotic changes forced on schools during the first semester.

“The pandemic has brought worry, isolation, and a break in norms that has turned all of the stable structures we once thought we could depend on their sides,” said Holli Morrish, spokeswoman for Talawanda Schools.

But Morrish said Talawanda and other “public schools have risen to the occasion in so many ways, by developing multiple educational programs to continue to deliver educational content, provide some contact with their peers and trusted adults who care about them.”

While most school districts resume learning today, thousands of students whose families signed up last month for Virtual Learning Options (VLO) for the second semester will start their specialized home instruction programs.

Area districts scheduled to start today in either temporary remote learning at home, hybrid, in-class schedule or all VLO learning from home through the semester are Edgewood, Monroe, Kings, Mason, Fairfield, Middletown, Ross, New Miami, Talawanda and Hamilton.

Districts scheduled to start Tuesday are Lakota and Madison.

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