COVID-19 surge takes toll on central Ohio school districts’ in-person learning

Local News

GROVE CITY, Ohio (WCMH) – Surging COVID-19 cases in Franklin County and Ohio are taking a toll on school districts’ in-person learning.

Following Governor Mike DeWine’s Thursday announcement about Franklin County moving to Level 4 (purple) on the state’s advisory system, South-Western City Schools announced the district would be moving to full-time remote learning.

Franklin County Public Health released the following guidance Thursday:

“In response to the Ohio Public Advisory System designating Franklin County Level 4 or “purple,” Franklin County Public Health is issuing the following clarifying guidance to all public and private K-12 schools.

The health department has issued a Stay at Home advisory for all residents effective November 20-December 18. This guidance acknowledges the need for only essential activities including work and school. In that advisory, schools are recommended to maintain their current modality of learning to the extent possible and discontinue extracurricular activities. Public health is concerned about possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and more cases of COVID-19 as a result of potential spread during the Thanksgiving break. In order to minimize that potential, schools are encouraged to transition to remote learning after the Thanksgiving Holiday and remain in virtual learning for the duration of the advisory period.”

Franklin County Public Health

The district’s two cohorts will attend their last in-person school days on Friday, November 20th and Monday, November 23rd. Parents who talked to NBC4 expressed mixed reactions to the return of full-time distance learning.

Brittney Frasure’s daughter uses an individualized education plan (IEP) and has struggled to adapt to virtual learning. Her son requires special education and also struggles to learn remotely. In addition to facilitating her own children’s learning, Frasure explained she’s also helping the children who attend her in-home daycare.

“It’s really hard and really frustrating as a mom. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know how you can help them or do more for them,” said Frasure. “I have so many alarms on my phone like [to budget time],”

“I have two internet services now, just so I can keep up with the signals they need for their computers.”

The school district explained in a statement:

“We have reviewed the available data, listened to Governor DeWine, and talked with our local health departments. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to staff our operations with the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Franklin County and the number of individuals who need to quarantine due to close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Our health officials continue to stress and our experiences prove that school is a safe place for students and staff with layered protocols in place. Unfortunately, community conditions do have an impact on our ability to staff and operate our schools.”

South-Western City School District

Frasure worries about the risk for her children’s health during in-person learning and understands the district’s decision.

“I’d rather be an overprotective mom and be like, ‘Okay, if you guys think it’s necessary to shut down the school, then we’ll go with it,’” she said.

The district said it plans to provide another update for families on December 17th.

You can see the complete information from South-Western City Schools by clicking here.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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