Classroom

What will school look like in Knox County when it resumes this August?

That's the question on everyone's mind, and the answer will differ by school district. While some local school districts are planning to bring students back for classroom instruction five days per week, others are taking a blended approach. 

And these models are subject to change; as the school year progresses, the county's and state's ability to fight the spread of COVID-19 will dictate how K-12 education looks locally.

In an effort to keep the community up-to-date on how each school will resume instruction this fall, Knox Pages has compiled basic reopening information on each district, published below.

This information was gathered through interviews with school officials and also from district websites. Plans are fluid and remain subject to change, based on state orders and local health information.

UPDATE AUG. 4: Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered that all K-12 students must wear facial coverings during classroom instruction this school year. Read more about the order here. All of Knox County's school districts have indicated that teachers will be required to wear masks when conducting in-person instruction, particularly when 6-foot social distancing cannot be achieved.

Here is the Ohio Department of Health's most recent Public Health Advisory System map (updated every Thursday):   

OPHAS Aug. 13

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Centerburg Local Schools

Reopen date: Aug. 19

Reopening plan: Five-day return with virtual option

LINKS: District website | Reopening plan

Families can choose whether to send their students to school or enroll in the district's virtual learning program.

Parents whose children are at high-risk due to chronic underlying medical conditions are encouraged to use remote learning. Students who qualify for free-and-reduced meals will be offered a learning platform device (i.e. Chromebook) and WiFi hotspot to participate in remote learning. All other students will be provided a device upon request if devices are available.

Families will be allowed to change their students' attendance status (either in-person or virtual) one time per semester "in order to keep the educational process manageable," the school district's website says. Families may also change a students' status for medical reasons, as long as a doctor's note is provided.

Students who choose in-person instruction are expected to bring multiple face masks to school each day (see specific mask policy below). The district will have one-time, disposable masks available for students who need them due to loss or damage during the school day.

Classes in grades K-5 will, for the most part, move as a group throughout the day. This is called cohort grouping and is used to help reduce the spread of the virus and help health professionals with contact tracing.

"Due to multiple shared teachers in grades 6-12, it is not possible to have cohort grouping in the middle school or high school," the district's website states. "Grade 6-12 students will be dismissed for class changes in a manner that minimizes crowded hallways."

Athletic or extra-curricular teams will not travel to, nor host visiting students from any county that has been deemed "red" in the state's Public Health Advisory System.

Masks: All K-12 students must wear a mask while in school. Any student with a documented medical breathing issue or disability may wear a face shield in place of a mask.

All students must also wear a mask on the bus, as well as when they are entering or exiting school buildings and walking through hallways.

Students may remove their masks while eating lunch and participating in outdoor recess, as long as adequate social distancing is maintained. Elementary students will eat lunch either in the multi-purpose room or the gymnasium. Student grade 6-12 will eat in the cafeteria or gymnasium.

Families of students eligible for free-and-reduced lunch will be provided a daily disposable mask if requested. It is encouraged, but not required, that families send an extra mask for students to use in case of damage, loss or other issues with the current mask.

Future plans: If Knox County turns "red" on the state's Public Health Advisory System, the district's social distancing minimum in classrooms will go from 3 feet to 6 feet. This will force Centerburg to implement a "hybrid" learning system, where students will attend school in-person twice per week. They will learn remotely the other three days.

Students will be split into two groups for in-person instruction, to limit class sizes and ensure adequate social distancing. One group will attend Monday/Tuesday, while the other will attend Thursday/Friday. Wednesday will be used as a building cleaning day.

           

Danville Local Schools

Reopen date: Aug. 17

Reopening plan: Blended learning with virtual option

LINKS: District website | Reopening plan

If Knox County remains level one or two in the state's Public Health Advisory System, Danville will implement a blended learning system five days per week. Families will also be allowed to enroll their students in full-time remote learning.

Pre-school students will have the option of attending school in-person two days per week and every other Friday. K-3 students will be offered a mix of in-person and remote learning five days per week. And students grades 4-12 will be offered online instruction on the school's campus five days per week.

Students participating in full-time remote learning will be provided a Chromebook, but they must secure their own internet access.

Students participating in the blended learning option will be in class from 8:05 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day. Students grades 4-12 will report to their homerooms and will not travel during the day, completing all online instruction in one place.

"The key to this model is that students will only be interacting with limited students," the district's website states, "which will aid in proper monitoring and quarantining if necessary."

Students grades K-3 will be spread out into several classrooms, receiving direct instruction from a certified teacher at various times of the day. The rest of the time they will be monitored and supported educationally by a paraprofessional or another teacher.

After K-12 students leave for the day, teachers will work to prepare the next day's online learning materials.

Masks: Students in grades 3-12 are required to wear facial coverings when social distancing (6 feet) is not possible. This includes while riding the school bus and entering/exiting the building.

It is highly recommended that PK-2 students wear facial coverings in the classroom, but they are only required to wear them on the bus and when entering/exiting the building.

Students are required to bring two cloth facial coverings with them each day.

Future plans: If Knox County advances to level three or four on the state's Public Health Advisory System, K-3 students will receive in-person instruction only in small groups. Students in grades 4-12 will shift to off-campus remote learning "at least 1-2 days a week," the district's website states.

      

East Knox Local Schools

Reopen date: Aug. 19

Reopening plan: Five-day return with virtual option

LINKS: District website (home page contains reopening plan)

Families can choose whether to send their students to school or enroll in the district's virtual learning program.

The district will provide a learning platform device (i.e. Chromebook) for each student who wishes to learn remotely, however, it is the parents' responsibility to provide internet access. "The district will work to provide WiFi hotspots where needed," it states on its website.

While it may be possible for students to move from in-person learning to remote learning after school starts, students who enroll in the online digital academy and wish to return to the traditional classroom may not do so until the first semester ends December 18.

Students and staff members will undergo safety checks every day before entering the school. Students with symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to stay home. 

Hand sanitizer will be available in high traffic areas including, but not limited to, building entrances, classrooms, cafeterias, and school buses. Everyone will wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer when entering a building a periodically throughout the day.

Grade K-8 teachers will change classrooms "to the greatest extent possible," the district's website says, as opposed to students moving from classroom to classroom.

Masks: Students must bring two facial coverings to school every day. Students grades K-12 will be required to wear a mask while riding the bus. They also must wear a mask when entering and exiting the school building.

Teachers may allow students to remove their masks when social distancing of 3-6 feet may be maintained, especially during class time.

Future plans: The plan outlined above is contingent on Knox County staying level one or two in the state's Public Health Advisory System. If Knox County moves to level three or four, the school district will consult with Knox Public Health on recommended changes.

     

Fredericktown Local Schools

Reopen date: Aug. 24 and 25 remotely (watching instructional videos); Aug. 26 in-person

Reopening plan: Five-day return with virtual option

LINKS: District website | Reopening plan

Fredericktown's plan for the 2020-21 school year consists of three options, depending on where Knox County stands in the state's Public Health Advisory System.

If Knox County remains level one or two, Fredericktown students will have the option of returning to school in-person five days per week (Plan A). If Knox County moves to level three, students may go to a "hybrid" education model, pending consultation with Knox Public Health (Plan B). And if Knox County goes to level four, students will take part in remote learning five days per week (Plan C).

All K-12 students will also have the option of learning remotely full-time through Fredericktown's Digital Academy. This instruction will be facilitated by FLS staff. Students will work from home daily using a district-provided Chromebook. Families will be responsible for providing internet access.

Under "Plan A": Students will be spaced 3 to 6 feet apart at all times (in classrooms, cafeteria, etc.). They will be required to wear masks in hallways if proper social distancing cannot be achieved. School buses will operate at capacity, with a limit of two students per seat. Recess will be staggered to limit the number of students on the playground at one time.

Students will be required to bring two masks to school each day. They must be worn on the bus, when students are entering or exiting the school building, and during class transitions.

"Face masks are highly recommended during class," the district's website states. "Mask breaks will be provided throughout the day."

Under "Plan B": Students will learn in-person two days per week, and remotely the other three days. Students will be assigned to specific two-day schedules. This will reduce the amount of students in the building by nearly 50 percent.

Students will be spaced 6 feet apart in classrooms and public areas at all times, and are required to wear face masks when proper social distancing can't be achieved. Buses will operate at 50-percent capacity with students being assigned seats. Cafeterias will also operate at 50-percent capacity.

"A modified schedule may be implemented to limit transitions," the district's website states. "Elementary recesses will be staggered to limit the number of students on the playground at a time."

Students will operate within the same mask policy outlined in "Plan A."

Under "Plan C": All students will participate in the Fredericktown K-12 Digital Academy. The district's website warns that, "due to a variety of circumstances, we may find ourselves needing to engage in the remote learning mode periodically throughout the school year."

     

Mount Vernon City Schools

Reopen date: Aug. 25

Reopening plan: Hybrid learning model with virtual option

LINKS: District website | Reopening plan | Restart video | Update (Aug. 7) | Update (Aug. 15)

Mount Vernon will begin the school year using a "hybrid" instruction model, with classroom learning taking place two days per week and remote learning taking place the other three.

Students will be split into two cohorts – "A" and "B" – which will attend school on separate days each week, to decrease congestion and increase social distancing. This will reduce the number of students in the building by nearly 50 percent.

Students will be issued a Chromebook and additional WiFi hotspots will be available in and around all school buildings. The district will be utilizing ‘Google Classroom’ in all K-12 classes, as well as other technologies.

Students will be spaced 6 feet apart in classrooms and common areas. A single-flow traffic pattern will be utilized in hallways, with adjusted transition times between classes. School buses will operate at 50-percent capacity with students being assigned seats. Cafeterias will also operate at 50-percent capacity.

"A modified schedule may be implemented to limit transitions," the district's website states. "Elementary recesses will be staggered to limit the number of students on the playground at a time."

The school district has committed to the hybrid education model for the first nine weeks of the school year.

Students will also be able to participate in full-time remote learning through Mount Vernon's Digital Academy.

"The curriculum is delivered 100% by K-12 and Apex online curriculum programs," the district's website states. "MVCSD teacher(s) assigned to the Online Digital Academy will provide academic support and monitoring."

Students will be allowed to transfer from remote learning to in-person instruction after the completion of the first nine-week grading period.

MasksAll K-12 students are required to wear masks while in school. The district recommends each student bring two masks to school every day.

Masks must be worn while riding the bus and when entering or exiting the school building. They must also be worn in class and during class transitions. Students must wear masks outdoors as well, when proper social distancing cannot be maintained.

Mask breaks will be provided for students throughout the day, the district stated. Students may also remove their masks during outdoor recess and lunch, as long as proper social distancing can be maintained. Accommodations for mask-wearing will be made for students with disabilities or medical conditions.

Future plans: The district will enter the school year in its "yellow" option, or the hybrid model. It has also laid out two other options, "green" and "red," which could be utilized in future grading periods. The "green" option would offer in-person learning five days per week, while the "red" option would constitute remote learning full-time.

As long as Knox County remains "yellow" or "orange" in the state's Public Health Advisory System, Mount Vernon will operate in its "green" or "yellow" instructional models.

If Knox County moves to "red," the school district says it will "work closely with Knox Public Health to determine if indicators that caused the increase are relevant to schools."

If that is the case, the district will implement its "yellow" (hybrid) or "red" (remote) instructional models. Should Knox County rise to the state's fourth and final risk level, "purple," Mount Vernon City Schools would shift to full-time remote learning. 

    

Knox County Career Center

Reopening date: Aug. 17

Reopening plan: Hybrid lab family plan

LINKS: District website | Reopening plan | FAQ

Students will be offered in-person instruction two days per week, with remote learning taking place the other three. Students will still attend all in-person instruction with their lab families, learning in the career tech center. They will attend their regularly scheduled academic classes remotely. This will allow for increased social distancing within the school building.

The Career Center will not be offering a full-time remote learning option at this time.

"Our career technical lab programs are best experienced in a hands-on nature that will prepare our students for what they will encounter in their career fields," the district's website states. "We do have online and remote learning plans that will be implemented schoolwide if necessary."

Students will still be permitted to travel to and from the Career Center throughout the day to take classes elsewhere. They will need to do a health assessment, however, before entering the building. Students will also still be able to participate in early job placement.

Here is how the standard week will look:

Monday: Monday is a remote learning and intervention/reinforcement/enrichment day. No students will be regularly scheduled for in-person learning on Mondays.

There may be times students will report for intervention/reinforcement/enrichment activities as scheduled by KCCC staff in collaboration with the students and families.

Tuesday and Thursday: Senior students and CBI-A (Mr. Geiger) will report to their KCCC labs.

Wednesday and Friday: Junior students, CBI-B (Mr. Lambert), and START students will report to their KCCC labs.

Monday, August 17 is an exception. This is the first day with new students. All junior students, as well as START, CBI-A, and CBI-B students, will attend KCCC in-person in addition to their regularly scheduled in-person days.

Students will have the opportunity to work in small groups with their academic instructors during in-person classes, the district's website states. Students will participate in live lessons with their instructors during remote learning days.

In regards to remote learning, the school district will provide students with a learning device along with a school email and log-in. Each family will be responsible for providing internet access.

Transportation will be provided by local school districts, per usual, and typical pick-up/drop-off protocol will also be followed on school property.

Masks: Students will be required to wear masks all day, according to the district's website, and they will be expected to perform a daily health assessment prior to attending in-person.

Students will be required to wear facial coverings in common areas, hallways, school buses, and any time social distancing is not possible in classrooms and other areas. The district will provide one solid color mask to each student.

Classrooms will also be arranged to allow for 3-to-6-foot social distancing. The sharing of materials will be "minimized," the district's website states, and materials/tools will be sanitized using approved sanitation wipes or a solution that is effective against COVID-19.

Future plans: The district has outlined several other learning options, aside from the hybrid model, which it may transition to at certain points during the school year.

It's unclear exactly what would cause the school district to go from one option to the other. When the district announced Monday it would begin the year under the hybrid model, it stated that "this plan may be changed based on external factors related to COVID-19 and/or updated guidance."

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.