HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — The Hilliard City School District is moving full steam ahead when it comes to getting kids back into the classroom five days a week.
The superintendent made his recommendation to the school board saying that this is decision is focused on the big picture.
“I mean, I’ve got concerns and worries just like everyone else does just not for my kids, but the staff at schools and making sure that everyone is as safe as possible,” said parent Evan Rulong, adding this is what his kids have been waiting for.
Previously in virtual learning, Rulong said the hybrid model has been a blessing.
“So that’s had a huge change on their mental aspect and just they’re enjoying school a whole lot more,” he said.
The Hilliard City School Board of Education voted Monday night to return to full in-person instruction March 15.
“For those who say hybrid is working, I would disagree,” said Hilliard City Schools Superintendent Dr. John Marchhausen. “Hybrid may be working for you, hybrid may be working for some people, but hybrid is not working for everyone.”
He says in-person learning will help students who are struggling in the virtual world. His recommendation was based on two factors: teachers getting vaccinated and declining COVID-19 numbers for the district.
“(Columbus Public Health Director) Dr. (Mysheika) Robert’s shared last week that our positivity rate is down below 6 percent,” Marchhausen said. “We also look at our case count by school age children and our case count has gone down to the last two-week period to 45.”
Student mental health is also a priority.
“So far during this school year, we’ve had seven students hospitalized due to COVID,” Marchhausen said. “During that same time, we’ve had 84 students hospitalized for mental health issues and suicidal ideations. Eighty-four of our students have been hospitalized.”
Rulong sees the benefit of in-person learning, especially after being in virtual learning for so long.
“My hope is that it works out well because the schooling, they’re loving it, being back in person,” he said.
Social distancing was discussed at length when it came to school activities and transportation.
One parent who we spoke to off camera said she’s worried about people being less than 6 feet apart and is concerned about what happens if someone tests positive for coronavirus.
Marschhausen said the biggest obstacle and concern is lunchtime.
“In some of the places, 3 feet is going to be tight, so our commitment as a team is, in those spaces where 3 feet is going to be tight, we will install desk shields on each of those desks to put another layer, another barrier in those spaces,” Marchhausen said. “In our cafeterias, we’re doubling the number of barriers in our cafeteria tables to create pods.”
Hilliard City schools will remain in hybrid until March 11, and then students will move to in-person learning five days a week beginning March 15.