Butler County schools make new plans for end of in-school classes in 2019-20

Area school leaders are scrambling in the wake of Ohio’s governor new orders to keep school buildings closed for the rest of the school calendar out of concern for the coronavirus.

They said they weren’t surprised by Governor Mike DeWine’s decision Monday – most were anticipating the close down order – and that having already shuttered their schools since mid-March helps them in developing strategies to end a school year like no other.

But it’s far from easy, and they worry about the impact on their students who are already undergoing historic stress due to the remote learning.

Matt Miller, the Lakota Schools superintendent, said in a video posted on social media that “we thought it was a decision that would be coming at any time and we thought it was the right decision.”

“We know it’s pretty hard on many students and many families (and) this is hard for our senior class. It’s not what any of us want to be going on but it’s necessary.”

Miller said the district will be developing plans on how students and staff can safely enter their schools to reclaim possessions once allowed.

Remote learning and free students meals provided for pick up at area schools will continue. The student meal program will transition into Lakota’s traditional summer lunch program, but details are still to be worked out.

Lakota, like other districts, is also working to determine what to do for summer school offerings.

Officials at Mason Schools told school families they expected the extended order, but it didn’t do much to relieve the disappointment.

“We know hearing the official word that school isn’t reopening this school year is difficult for a lot of us,” said Mason Schools Superintendent Jonathan Cooper in a statement sent out to parents.

“We are grappling with the loss of special moments, and normalcy. While our school buildings are closed, our staff are working hard to ensure students are supported and learning continues.”

Talawanda Schools officials applauded DeWine’s decision.

“Keeping people well, and keeping a focus on safety is very important to us and we are grateful that leaders in Ohio are doing what needs to be done to achieve this,” said Talawanda Spokeswoman Holli Morrish.

“Although we understand that isolating ourselves with our families, and not being able to get out in the community more is hard on some folks, we understand and respect the Governor and Dr. Amy Acton’s (Ohio Department of Health Director) actions to keep students and their families, and our own staff members safe.”

Hamilton Schools officials urged students to stay focused on completing their remote learning assignments through the end of the school year on May 20.

“We know the governor’s order to close school for the rest of the school year presents a challenge to our families,” said Hamilton spokeswoman Joni Copas.

“Although our school buildings are to remain closed, remote learning will continue through the remainder of the school year, it is critical that all students continue to engage in remote learning until the end of this school year.”

Scott Gates, superintendent of Ross Schools, sent out a notice to school families a few hours after the governor’s announcement. He said the memo to parents and students “one of the hardest letters I’ve had to write.”

“Our district leadership team will be meeting soon to discuss a whole host of items including distance learning, meal distribution, time for students to pick up items left in the buildings, and rescheduling activities such as prom, graduation, and other student recognition events,” he said.

But he added, “I’m already anticipating the sunrise on the first day students are able to come back to school at Ross. I’m already anticipating hearing the Ross Band of Class practicing and playing on a cool Friday evening. I’m already anticipating watching the students at Elda and Morgan (elementary schools) leap off the bus so excited for school.”

“I’m already anticipating the future,” he said. “ Let’s stay positive and forward-thinking as we meet this challenge head-on.”

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