‘It was a little strange’: Area’s first school system opens under shadow of coronavirus

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The first area school system to open in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic saw students and teachers Tuesday put on masks along with new attitudes about learning.

About half of Butler Tech’s 1,700 high school students attended the first day of classes on the career school’s four main campuses in a “hybrid” schedule requiring only some students for classroom learning on a school day while others learn from home.

ExploreButler County’s first classes start today as districts continue coronavirus changes

The move is designed to maximize social distancing and adding to the array of new health and safety measures put into place for Butler Tech and will soon be mirrored across the area in some other school districts as classroom learning returns.

“It was a little strange,” said Butler Tech senior Chris Brown after classes dismissed. “While it was nice seeing my friends … we couldn’t hug them but it was still nice to see everyone.”

Mandated wearing of masks by students was difficult, he said.

“The mask was definitely the hardest part of the day. And it’s amazingly hot to wear on a hot day,” he said.

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Area Butler Tech high school students started the new school year Tuesday, donning protective masks and taking reduced-size classes to maintain social distancing. Officials at the local career school system, which serves all Butler County public districts, say the first day went smoothly. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Area Butler Tech high school students started the new school year Tuesday, donning protective masks and taking reduced-size classes to maintain social distancing. Officials at the local career school system, which serves all Butler County public districts, say the first day went smoothly. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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Area Butler Tech high school students started the new school year Tuesday, donning protective masks and taking reduced-size classes to maintain social distancing. Officials at the local career school system, which serves all Butler County public districts, say the first day went smoothly. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Butler Tech officials said the first day of the 2020-21 school year went smoothly with no transportation or school incidents reported. And despite the historically unusual nature of returning to in-person learning during a pandemic, the mood was upbeat, they said.

“You may not see the smiles through the masks, but you hear the joy throughout the building,” said Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech, which is one of Ohio’s largest career schools.

“Students and staff were excited to start the school year. Without hesitation, everyone followed the safety protocols making the first day a tremendous success.”

Butler Tech’s opening is being closely watched by other area public and private schools because it is the first to test the effectiveness of masks and dozens of other health protocols designed to allow students to learn inside of schools instead of remotely from home.

Other area public and private schools are scheduled to re-open starting next week through the early part of September with some adopting hybrid scheduling while a few others – such as Middletown and Talawanda schools – are going with remote learning from home.

ExploreWhen do classes start for Butler County schools?

A.J. Huff, spokeswoman for Butler Tech, which serves 11 local school districts, said “we’re off to a great start.”

“We appreciate the cooperation of our associate schools as they provide the busing for our students to and from Butler Tech and we look forward to seeing the other half of our students for their first day (Wednesday),” said Huff.

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