Middletown and Talawanda, Butler County’s all-remote districts, make plans to return to class

Classrooms and gathering spaces are nearly empty Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 at Middletown Middletown School. Middletown students have been learning remotely this year and will start face to face classes later this month. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Middletown Schools is joining the growing list of Butler County districts boosting their in-person classes after shutting down due to the coronavirus.

The school board voted 5-0 after a virtual meeting Thursday morning that included presentation of a detailed plan for re-opening from Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr.

Students will return on a staggered schedule alphabetically from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6 with some students attending classes Monday and Tuesday then others in class on Thursday and Friday. All students will be remote on Wednesdays.

All students will return to a normal, five-day class schedule starting Nov. 9.

Intervention specialist Joni Crow talks to her students during a remote online meeting Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 at Middletown Middletown School. Middletown students have been learning remotely this year and will start face to face classes later this month. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Middletown was the second district in southwest Ohio to open the school year with all students learning from home as a precaution against the coronavirus. Talawanda Schools, which later also opened with an all-remote learning schedule, has also decided to return to in-person classes on Oct. 20.

Both districts will continue to offer a Virtual Learning Option to school parents who do not want their children to return to school classrooms.

In the last week, officials at Hamilton and Monroe schools also announced the coming return to live classrooms.

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Styles told the school board recent city health data has shown the number of students reporting to have tested positive for the coronavirus has declined in recent weeks and there were zero such cases in the last week.

“We believe this is a very good and safe return to school plan,” he told the board, adding the three-week phase in starting Oct. 19 will help “our students to feel safe during this period.”

Masks will be required for students and school staff. Social distancing will also be encouraged and monitored, said Styles, and students and staff will be required to do school day health assessments before sending their children to school.

At each of the city schools' 10 buildings there will be a quarantine room where students will be kept – until their parents can pick them up - if they report coronavirus symptoms.

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Water fountains will be closed and students will bring water bottles or have them provided.

The re-opening rules and details, which are available on the district’s website, may appear to be strict for good reason, said Styles.

“Once we return back our focus is to remain open,” adding the district will continue to work closely with city health officials in monitoring and reacting to any new coronavirus infections among students and staff.

“I’m all for it,” said Middletown school parent Mary Ann Daniels, who was among the dozens who watched the virtual school board meeting.

“Some kids don’t have the support at home to learn and they will fall behind without proper schooling. School teaches them more than math and reading, it also teaches them social interaction.”

Middletown school board member Todd Moore described the re-opening strategy as a “practical plan.”

“It gets us moving and it is reasonable,” said Moore.

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