Lakota changes return to in-person learning to avoid possible ‘superspreader’ holidays

Lakota Schools' governing board voted Monday evening to push back the start of classes for the second semester - after the winter break - to better avoid any upticks in coronavirus cases following Christmas and New Year's holidays. Live classes will begin for all students on Jan. 19 after a hybrid schedule week of in-person learning, say Lakota officials.
Lakota Schools' governing board voted Monday evening to push back the start of classes for the second semester - after the winter break - to better avoid any upticks in coronavirus cases following Christmas and New Year's holidays. Live classes will begin for all students on Jan. 19 after a hybrid schedule week of in-person learning, say Lakota officials.

Lakota officials voted Monday evening to change the way the district will return to school in person after the winter break to better avoid, they said, a potential coronavirus “superspreader” aftermath from the holidays.

The Lakota Board of Education voted 4-0, with member Michael Pearl out due to a death in his family, to change the schedule of the district’s in-person second semester. The virtual learning students will begin Jan. 5 as planned, and students who chose the in-person option will begin learning remotely on Jan. 5 through Jan. 11.

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A hybrid, in-person class schedule by the first letter of a student’s last name will begin on Jan. 12. Then a full return to live classes for all students, except those in the virtual learning option (VLO), will start Jan. 19.

Superintendent Matt Miller told the board his recommended changes will allow district officials to closely monitor, with the help of county health officials, for any spike in coronavirus cases within the district’s West Chester and Liberty township borders after Christmas and New Year’s Day.

He said discussions with health officials and other Ohio superintendents convinced him of the safety advantages of “taking at least a 10-day break from superspreader events.”

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“We know this has been hard on everybody,” he said of the unprecedented scheduling changes, which at times has included staggered class starts and a hybrid class schedule.

Some 950 students who spent the first semester in VLO at home will be joining students learning in-person in the second semester and adjusting to live classes will be easier for them and for schools if done through a staggered schedule, Miller said.

“I think it’s really smart to stay away from New Year’s (holiday). We are controlling our destiny and being proactive,” Board Member Julie Shaffer said.

Member Lynda O’Connor said “this is balancing act with so many factors.”

“There is no perfect solution,” said O’Connor.

In other board action, the members voted 4-0 to approve a new contract for Miller through July 31, 2025 with a $22,100 raise to $192,000.

Miller’s salary will increase with yearly raises of 1.97 percent each August during the course of the employment agreement.

Miller, who was hired in 2017, now earns $169,900 annually. His new salary will begin Jan. 1.