Bay Village Schools announce fall reopening plan
The Bay Village Board of Education approved an amendment to its teachers contract that accommodates changes to school this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The July 13 vote and meeting was held virtually in accordance with state directives that limit gatherings. More than 100 parents, staff and community members attended via phone and online.
The current plan is to open school buildings on a five-day, Monday-through-Friday schedule with a variety of COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Daily schedules will condense learning into somewhat shorter school days. Families who are not comfortable sending their children into school buildings with the safety protocols in place have the option of accessing a high-quality, remote learning program with Bay Village Schools teachers.
During the first week of school, beginning Tuesday, Aug. 18, students will attend for two assigned days in the building while attending remotely the remaining two days. This will allow teachers to work with smaller groups during this “slow start” to better teach and supervise safety protocols. Then the regular, five-day schedule will begin on Monday, Aug. 24.
Safety protocols include frequent hand washing, consistent wearing of face coverings at all K-12 grade levels, maintaining six feet of distance from others whenever possible, and intensive and frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces. All the new safety protocols are covered in the district report: Bay Village City Schools Safe Opening Plan, Fall 2020. The report is available on the district’s website, bayvillageschools.com.
“The safety protocols follow the latest Ohio and CDC recommendations for K-12 schools,” said Superintendent Jodie Hausmann. “Our parents and staff expressed in our recent surveys by large majorities that if we have consistent safety protocols in place, they are confident we can safely hold school. The bottom line is, we are opening ‘safely, not normally.’ More than 70 percent of our parent respondents considered physical distancing and face coverings to be important or very important, and more than 95 percent thought hand washing and cleaning of surfaces is important or very important. We were happy to learn that most parents support these Ohio and CDC guidelines that are critical to a safe school environment during the pandemic.”
Hausmann noted that about 8 percent of parent survey respondents indicated a preference for remote learning from home. They will see a version of remote learning very different from this past spring, when schools had to close quickly .
“Educators now have the benefit of experience and time to plan for remote learning this fall,” Hausmann said. “Live streaming education will be a significant portion of the remote-learning school day. It is especially important to have a high-quality remote learning option not just for families who opt in initially, but also for the potential of closing down in-building learning should the status of COVID-19 viral spread change for the worse.”
However, even if no students opt into remote learning, schools have plans for full, in-building student attendance with desks kept to six feet apart.
“We will be using some nontraditional spaces for classrooms,” said Superintendent Jodie Hausmann. “Space in libraries, cafeterias and other areas will let us keep class sizes to an average of 14-16 students. We can space the desks six feet apart that way. I am really proud that we could figure out a way to accommodate all our students while maintaining that six-foot distance.”
The superintendent noted that school buses will also run while maintaining social distancing. “About two-thirds of our non-anonymous parent survey respondents whose students are assigned school bus transportation indicated they would be willing to transport students on their own,” she said. “That will be an enormous help in planning safe bus transportation.”
Board of Education President Lisa Priemer said the plan prioritizes health and safety, while getting children back into the classroom. “We know that for most students, the best place to learn is at school. The social and emotional connections and support that children benefit from in school cannot be underestimated. I’m hopeful that our students will thrive even with these safety precautions in place.”
Lauren Stanislaw, President of the Bay Teachers Association, said she appreciated the collaboration of teachers and administrators in developing the plan. “The reorganization of teacher planning and instructional time, along with the added responsibilities of ensuring student safety on this elevated level, is a daunting challenge,” she said. “I am proud that our teachers have responded with such a positive, creative and constructive approach. I can speak for everyone by saying we cannot wait to see our students again!”
Hausmann noted that while she appreciates the guidelines and flexibility from the State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Education, she is disappointed that the ultimate authority for closing schools rests with school superintendents. “This is a public health issue,” she said. “And superintendents are not medical doctors.” She said she is working with area Westshore superintendents to develop criteria, perhaps sub-levels of Governor DeWine’s color-coded alert level scheme, when all the districts would close. Criteria for closing at the building level is also being discussed. Criteria could include changes in state alert levels, numbers of confirmed or presumed COVID-19 cases identified, or absence levels.
Parents will receive specific schedules for their own students and details specific to school buildings within the next week or so. Details on before-school care, after-school care and options for after-school activities will also be covered by building principals.
Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District