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Here's What K-12 Schools Will Look Like In Central Ohio This Fall

Kindergarten teacher Mindy Skinner reads to one of her kindergarten classes.
Debbie Holmes
Kindergarten teacher Mindy Skinner reads to one of her kindergarten classes.

Columbus City Schools released its plan for fall two weeks ago, and now a number of outlying districts have shared their ideas for returning. Students across the area can expect to wear masks, and in most cases, will only be in the classroom for part of the week.

Olentangy Schools, Whitehall City Schools, Pickerington Schools and South Western City Schools have all released plans touching on masks and plans for instruction.

The Ohio Department of Education shared guidelines on July 2 for reopening schools around Ohio. While they carry the same precautions residents have likely grown used to—monitoring symptoms, cleaning surfaces, maintaining distance and wearing masks—the guidance leaves the question of teaching to district officials.

The biggest outlier in the area is Olentangy Schools, which expects to return to in-person classes August 31, a week and a half later than their original start date. In a note to parents, superintendent Mark Raiff said the delay would give the district time to get protective equipment and allow teachers and staff to acclimate to distancing guidelines.

The other three districts expect to start the year with some form of blended learning. Pickerington and South Western City Schools will split students into two groups, with one visiting classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other coming in Thursdays and Fridays.

Whitehall City Schools has pitched a similar model, but the groups would come in on alternate days and trade off Mondays week by week.

In all cases, districts note that their plans are still drafts and could change further.

All four districts lay out plans for moving to virtual learning if cases of COVID-19 start rising, and each district has options for students who want to learn from home full-time.

Pickerington Schools has plans for potentially closing individual buildings if necessary. Moving in the opposite direction, South Western City Schools has September 21 penciled in as a possible date for returning to regular in-person classes.

In each district, students will have to wear masks inside classrooms and on school buses. Olentangy Schools and South Western City Schools are planning to build in breaks outside for younger students.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.