Reversing coronavirus plan: Hamilton Schools to return to all in-person classes

Ohio K-12 students required to wear masks to school

One of Butler County’s largest school systems will soon be switching away from its coronavirus-motivated hybrid schedule back to traditional in-person classes five days a week.

Officials at the 10,000-student Hamilton Schools said they will officially announce the return to normal schooling later today .

Data showing seven positive cases of coronavirus to date among students and the endorsement by city health officials means the big change for thousands of students is not only doable but desirable, said Mike Holbrook, superintendent of the city schools.

Hamilton school officials revealed Thursday evening the 10,000-student will soon be offering a five-day, all live classes option for its students. Currently the city schools are only a hybrid schedule and an at home, virtual learning program. (File Photo\Journal-News)

“We have the data to support this. It’s a calculated risk but a positive one,” Holbrook told the Hamilton Board of Education during its Thursday evening meeting shown live on Facebook.

Currently Hamilton is using a hybrid school day schedule where students are only in live classes – rather than learning at home remotely on other days – for two days a week.

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Starting Oct. 14 students will return to the traditional class schedule of five days a week of in-person instruction.

“Putting our students back in front of teachers is what we have to do. Socialization of our students is lacking,” said Holbrook, adding “that is critically important.”

About 2,600 Hamilton students are currently in the district’s “virtual learning institute” (VLI) but district officials also told the board of concerns – especially among K-5 students and their difficulties learning via the vendor program the district contracted with to provide home instruction.

But Holbrook said those families, who were originally told if they signed up for VLI they would be locked into the program for the entire first semester, will now be able to opt out and send their children to in-person classes.

They can, however, remain in the VLI program if they so choose.

School board member Margaret Baker said “some parents will be very happy about this.”

Board Vice President Laurin Sprague said he also backed the plan, which did not require board vote given the board’s decision months ago to allow Holbrook the freedom to make such decisions – with their review – during the coronavirus crisis.

“Parents will still have the VLI (optional program). But this (return to classes) is a great option for our students and teachers,” said Sprague.

Students, teachers and staffers will still have to wear protective masks and maintain social distancing, said Holbrook.

“There is absolutely zero substitute to having a student in class with a teacher,” he said.

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