REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) — With school leaders growing more concerned about the record-breaking number of new COVID-19 infections in the state, one central Ohio school district has already chosen to go back to virtual learning for its students.
“It’s kind of sad,” says Brandi Hayden, whose daughter is a freshman at Reynoldsburg High School. “Emotionally and mentally, she needs that socialness with the kids and her teachers.”
The Reynoldsburg School District decided Thursday evening to revert to an online-only learning model due to the recent surge in cases across the state.
Though Hayden feels safe having her daughter home, she’s concerned about the impact COVID could have on her education.
“She needs the teachers to help her and with online stuff, it’s just a lot harder,” Hayden explains.
The challenges that come with learning remotely for students is why the decision to go back was so difficult for Reynoldsburg Superintendent Melvin Brown.
“I hate it for them, the entire thing. And I completely…I think about our seniors, not only from our current school year, but our last school year,” Brown said.
But after more than 7,000 new cases being announced Thursday, for Brown, the health and safety of students and staff became the priority.
“We knew, from a remote standpoint, our administrators do a phenomenal job of making sure that process works well, and that our kids our learning,” Brown said.
It’s a process that, for some teachers, will be a relatively seamless adjustment.
“We’re doing this tomorrow. I’m changing. I’m flexible. That’s just something you get in the habit of doing over time,” says middle school teacher Gracie Goldencole.
But for teachers like Goldencole, staff has been a problem.
Brown said they considered shutting down a number of schools over the past few days because they were so short-staffed due to COVID-19.
And with Reynoldsburg currently one of the most affected areas in Ohio, the school district said it has to make a decision that would keep everyone safe and successful at the same time.
As a parent, Goldencole is torn as students try to transition.
“I’m happy because the number outside are going up, but I’m sad at the same time because I know that other students need that connection,” Goldencole said.
Reynoldsburg Schools’ decision will go through Dec. 18, the end of the semester. It will re-assess where things are at that time and make a decision.
The school district also said it isn’t sure yet how the decision will impact athletics and winter sports going forward.