HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH)–Hilliard City Schools no longer use the state’s color-coded map for COVID-19 when related to determining whether the district stays in-person or returns to online learning.
The state-designated Franklin County “purple” on Thursday, signifying the highest level of spread and exposure.
Hilliard City Schools was using the Ohio Public Health Advisory System as a factor in its return-to-school plan and moving back into purple would have push students back into remote learning.
The school board voted to change that Monday saying they now have more data and information at a local level to determine if a push online is needed in the future.
Deputy Superintendent Mike McDonough said going purple would have changed what school looked like in an instant.
“To have been in a month in all in and then have we potentially had to transition back to remote, I can’t imagine the stress that would have caused some of our families and the interruption in their day to day lives,” he said.
An emergency change to a memorandum of understanding was made earlier this week. It allows the board to look at hyper-local data when it comes to COVID19 spread and exposure within the district.
“So, it was critical that we worked swiftly to engage our teachers in that conversation and provide the why and be able to provide them the data that shows that hey even though that the county is trending this way — we’re not locally.”
“We need to keep the schools open. it’s imperative. it’s safe. it’s the right thing to do. So, we need to make sure despite turning purple that we keep the schools open,” said Dr. Rustin Morse with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He spoke at a news conference Thursday afternoon hosted by the Columbus City Mayor’s Office.
McDonough says their data tracking system is in partnership with OSU and it can focus on grade levels and even school buildings. That way decisions can be made in specific cases and not district-wide.
“Ultimately our goal is to keep our kids in school safely if there’s any risk of any safety issues then we’ll make the needed adjustments, but we definitely want to keep trending in this direction,” said McDonough.
He added the COVID coordinator meets with their public health partners weekly to discuss spread and exposure within the school district. The recommendation on whether or not the district should consider remote learning again would come from that team.