There were very few, lasting and good things from pandemic-forced disruptions of schools in recent years but for many districts, using a staggered opening for first days for a new school years is one of them.
So much so, said many area school officials, it’s a practice being adopted by more Butler County districts with the latest being Fairfield Schools.
For the first time in the 10,000-student Fairfield school system will mimic a staggered classes start used by its neighboring districts when schools open for the 2023-2024 school year in August, said district officials.
First employed locally and nationally at many schools in August 2020 — just months after the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020 that shuttered all Ohio K-12 schools and those nationally — most Butler County schools have already switched permanently to the variable start days first utilized in 2021 and 2022.
School parents, teachers and other school staffers like the approach, which has various grades with differing start dates so to lower the number of students flooding into school buildings on day one as was done prior to 2020.
Sometimes staggered starts separate students by the first letter of their last names.
“We received positive feedback from families and many requests to use it going forward,” said Angie Neal, Fairfield Schools’ coordinator of district information.
“While I cannot speak for all parents, some feedback we received indicated that students were more comfortable starting with a smaller class size, particularly in our elementary buildings. This allows teachers to implement their classroom procedures and get to know students on a more personal level during their first day,” said Neal.
Among some of the other local school districts also employing variable opening day schedules are Hamilton, Lakota, Madison, Monroe, Middletown, Edgewood and Talawanda schools.
The different opening schedules also help older students, said Neal.
“At the secondary levels, those buildings in particular are much larger than our elementary schools. A staggered start allows students time to adjust to a new, bigger building with a smaller group of students.”
For the first time in Fairfield Schools, which enrolls students from both the city of Fairfield and Fairfield Twp., only students with last names beginning with the letter A-L will start the 2023-2024 school year on Aug. 10.
And students with last names beginning with letters M-Z will start the school year on Aug. 11.
All students in grades kindergarten through 12th will attend on Aug. 14.
Neal said additional information will be communicated to Fairfield school families about preschool during summer break.
“We believe this process will result in a more seamless start to the school year and allow time for questions and troubleshooting in smaller numbers.”
For more details on Fairfield’s plans — and of those at other area schools — school families should go to their local public school district or private school’s website.