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School districts react to closures

DeWine says K-12 schools will not re-open for academic year

Local school superintendents reacted to Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement on Monday that Ohio schools will not resume for the rest of the academic year.

The governor said, at his cornonavirus briefing, that school buildings across the state would remain closed and students will complete their school work online.

“The virus continues,” DeWine said. “It remains dangerous.”

The schools were originally closed on March 12 and set to reopen on April 3. On March 30, May 1 was set as a possible opening date.

But DeWine said there was too much risk to students and teachers, as well as for community spread of the disease. The risk to students is low, but students could carry COVID-19 and spread it to their families and throughout the community.

Symmes Valley Superintendent Darrell Humphreys said the announcement was “not unexpected.”

“I don’t think anyone was taken by surprise,” he said.

Humphreys said his district was planning to meet to explore options for a graduation ceremony for the school’s seniors.

He said anything that would be done would follow social distancing guidelines and such an event could take place later in the summer.

“Our hearts go out to our seniors,” he said. “The class of 2020 has been dealt some very tough cards.”

Dawson-Bryant Superintendent Steve Easterling echoed his thoughts.

“It was pretty much what I expected him to say, with the way everything’s going,” he said.

He said the district would be meeting this week to discuss options for seniors.

“We want to have some kind of ceremony,” he said. “Probably not a normal one, but these seniors have lost so much.”

Schools across Lawrence County put on a show of solidarity for seniors on Tuesday, with districts turning on lights for their football fields from 8:20-8:40 p.m., and encouraging families and students to drive by.

As to whether schools would reopen in the fall, DeWine said it remains undetermined at this point although schools may become a combination of time spent at school and time at home online.

“We’ve made no decision about the fall yet,” DeWine said. “We’re going to have to see where we’re going.”

Humphreys expressed concern about the idea of a hybrid learning atmosphere, due to the lack of high-speed internet in his district, as well as many others in Lawrence County.

“These students don’t have the same opportunities as their peers,” he said, adding that something must be done for rural areas if this is how schools will operate.

Easterling estimated that 50 percent of students in his district do not have access, either by lack of availablity or not being able to afford it.

He said his district will be meeting to determine how to proceed if a hybrid situation is dictated.

Humphreys said there will have to be a lot of planning before the new school year.

“The normal way of doing things might not fit,” he said.

He said his district has resumed their feeding program while school is out of session. They had paused for last week, which would have been the normal spring break for schools.

He said times and locations remain the same as before the break.