Return from Thanksgiving: Butler County schools still mixed on in-person, remote classes

As area schools come out of their Thanksgiving holiday, officials say there remains no break from the possibility of new class schedule changes coming due to the ramifications of the coronavirus. (File Photo\Journal-News)
As area schools come out of their Thanksgiving holiday, officials say there remains no break from the possibility of new class schedule changes coming due to the ramifications of the coronavirus. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Area school systems may be coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no break in sight from the possibility of more class schedule changes being forced by the coronavirus.

The fall semester, which will end for winter break in mid-December for local public schools, has been a scheduling rollercoaster.

School districts locally and across Ohio exercised their local autonomy and took widely varied approaches to how they taught their students through the first part of the 2020-21 school year.

And as student and staffer totals for positive coronavirus tests and the corresponding quarantines continue to rise and fall, area school officials predict the fluctuations in their approaches in schooling may continue.

Adding to the lack of stability are severe shortages caused by at-home quarantines for teachers, substitute instructors, classroom assistants, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

ExploreHuge drop in substitute teachers could force changes at more Butler County districts

Some of the area’s largest districts — Lakota, Hamilton, Fairfield, Mason — currently plan to maintain their in-person classes. Others, like Talawanda, have moved to all-remote classes in at least some schools. Talawanda recently switched all its high school and middle school students to remote learning from home until Jan. 18.

“All districts in Butler County are experiencing a shortage in substitute teachers, educational assistants, and cafeteria workers due to Covid-19,” said Talawanda School officials recently in a statement released to its school families.

“Talawanda is currently experiencing a severe spike in the number of Covid-19 quarantines and positive cases. Talawanda has already exhausted the small number of workers (including administrators and members of our curriculum team) that we have available to reassign to assist where we need help the most.”

The district “plans to keep the elementary schools with face-to-face school going as long as we have the staff available to operate them.”

It’s a dilemma Ross Schools recently faced when earlier this month officials there ordered high school students switch to a hybrid class schedule of students learning on alternate days according to the first letter of their last names.

Explore‘Alarming rate’ of coronavirus cases forces Ross HS into hybrid schedule

“Our confirmed COVID case numbers at the high school in particular are growing at an alarming rate,” wrote Ross Superintendent Chad Konkle in a notice posted on the district’s website.

The hybrid class schedule for Ross High School will last until Jan. 15.

And another big variable is the coming, said Talawanda officials.

“We don’t know what the future holds, but we do have concerns regarding the number of cases and quarantines rising, especially as we approach flu season,” they said.

“We are doing everything within our power to keep our students and staff safe. It’s difficult as we cannot control all of the factors, but our staff has really risen to these challenges and are doing whatever needs to be done each day.”

Here is a summary of area public school district’s current status regarding their instructional schedules for students. Almost all districts also offer a virtual learning from home option that locks in a child for an entire semester. For more information, go to your local school district’s website or contact your child’s local school.

Butler Tech: in-person

Edgewood Schools: in-person learning

Fairfield Schools: in-person

Hamilton: in-person

Kings: remote learning Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 return to in-person on Dec. 2

Lakota: in-person

Madison: in-person

Mason: in-person with high school remote learning on Wednesdays

Middletown: hybrid schedule

Monroe: in-person

Ross: in-person but hybrid for high school students

Talawanda: high school and middle school remote learning

*New Miami Schools’ information unavailable.

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