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Schools await word from governor on resuming

DeWine pledges schools will reopen for fall; Guidelines to come

Superintendents in Lawrence County are awaiting guidelines from Gov. Mike DeWine on what form classes will take when students return to school for the new academic year.

DeWine pledged on Tuesday during his news conference on the coronavirus pandemic that students will be back in the classrooms in the fall.

All K-12 schools in the state were closed and students switched to a remote learning system in March, due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

As the shutdowns intensified, the closure, which was initially an extended spring break, lasted until the end of the school year.

DeWine said the goal is to have students back at buildings for the new academic year.

“We need to get back to school,” he said.

DeWine said guidelines will be unveiled in coming weeks and that decisions on many aspects, such as busing, temperature checks and masks, will likely be left up to local school districts.

Depending on whether a six-foot distancing is required between students, schools may resume with normal capacity, or be required to alternate days with half capacity. The governor has not specified whether such distance will be required.

South Point superintendent Mark Christian said all Lawrence County school districts are staying in touch and a rough county plan has been devised, but they are awaiting the governor’s guidelines before details can be announced.

He said superintendents are planning to meet as soon as the governor issues guidelines.

Christian said they have received no word yet on how schools can handle events, such as football games and other activities.

Chesapeake superintendent Jerry McConnell said plans are a “work in progress” as they await DeWine’s guidelines.

“Everyone’s trying to work as a county,” he said.

In the meantime, he said decisions are being made within the district, but much will be dependent on the governor’s decisions, which he expects within 10 days.

“Our first obligation is the health and safety of everyone,” McConnell said. “And we want to do what the county health department says.”

One change McConnell mentioned was that Chesapeake has purchased 1,400 Chromebook laptops for each student from elementary through high school.

“We’re looking forward to utilizing them,” he said, stating that, not only could they be used for remote learning, but also for the regular curriculum.

McConnell said the district used COVID-19 funding from the state, combined with the general fund, to make the purchase.