Schools returning to remote learning

Mark Knapp, Superintendent of Wheelersburg Local Schools

New Boston Local Schools along with New Boston, Clay (beginning Dec. 8), Minford, Scioto DD, and West, Wheelersburg is remote Dec. 9, and Northwest, Portsmouth are all either doing remote learning or will be in a few days.

SCIOTO — With rising COVID cases and many other reasons related to COVID, more schools have announced their decision to begin remote learning.

As of press time, the Scioto County Educational Service Center released that New Boston, Clay, Minford, Scioto DD, and West schools are remote until Jan. 4, 2021, Clay beginning Dec. 8, Wheelersburg is remote from Dec. 9 until Jan. 15, 2021, Northwest is remote until Jan. 19, 2021. It was also verified to the Portsmouth Daily Times that Portsmouth City Schools would begin remote learning beginning Dec. 10 until Jan. 8, 2021.

Once again, Superintendents, along with others in their district, have had to make the decision, but doing so with the interest of their students and staff first and foremost. Wheelersburg Superintendent, Mark Knapp, stated that this decision was not made lightly and was made by not only him but by consulting staff, administrators, and school board members.

“It’s a combination of things, first and foremost, we were able to cover staff members who need to be absent, but there is such a shortage of substitutes that any sudden need to be gone is very difficult for us to cover,” Knapp said. “That uncertainty lent itself to us, taking this virtual learning.”

Knapp shared in addition to that, the district has been monitoring their statistics and data and have not seen a huge increase in cases but are monitoring quite a few cases right now.

“We had an uptick in the request by parents to switch their students to our Pirate Digital Academy online option,” Knapp said. “We’ve also noticed in the last few weeks, a general increase in absenteeism because parents are holding students at home.”

Knapp stated the district is not necessarily moving to remote learning because they have had any increase in the schools’ cases, but within the community at large.

“We are seeing increases,” Knapp said. “We felt like it was a time to step back a little bit, reduce the numbers in the building even further, and send our students to let them learn remotely for a short period of time until we can reevaluate the situation.”

The superintendent shared that they will be doing this until Jan. 15, not just because of the Christmas holiday exposure, but that it coincides with the end of their grading period and that after the break, it will give them time to review the data and make decisions to give them time to announce those before they would implement them on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

“We’re very much aware of the disruption that this causes for our parents out in the community. We’ve tried to maintain a very consistent schedule, so they can adapt and make changes,” Knapp spoke on the difficult decision. “We are also very much aware of the need for students to have a consistent schedule to be connected with our teachers so we can monitor academic progress but also the student’s own personal stress levels and their emotions as we are going through this thing. It was not an easy decision and we are going to do everything we can to stay connected with our students throughout this short break and we’re just worried about their well-being.”

Northwest Schools, which are also going to remote learning, posted on Facebook with Superintendent Todd Jenkins speaking in a video for his district and commenting on the hope of taking a few weeks after Christmas and returning to remote learning as a safety precaution for families in his district.

In the video, Jenkins also mentioned that their buses would be running to deliver food five days a week, just not this Monday (Dec. 14) as they prepare. Jenkins said they plan to leave the district by 10 a.m. to start delivery and that this will also help with the exchange of materials for students to teachers and vice versa. Jenkins did say that if folks wanted to pick up food, they would be able to at the high school cafeteria area from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Jenkins concluded the video with the statement that they are taking every precaution to get through the pandemic and that it is hard to accommodate everyone and everything, but they are trying their best to do so.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928 44© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights