Community Update 05/15/20
Dear Families, Employees and Community Members,
On Sunday, May 17, 2020, we are celebrating the 155th graduating class of Perrysburg High School. There is no doubt that this is the most exceptional ceremony we have ever had. The members of the Perrysburg High School Class of 2020 are the center of this historical event that, ages from now, people will look back upon and wonder what it must have been like to live through this moment as a high school senior.
Despite the challenges they faced, this class has persevered. For that, they are to be congratulated.
I want to thank the community for their support of our graduating seniors. It is wonderful to see total strangers reaching out to show this class their love and support. The Perrysburg Board of Education has encouraged the administration to be as creative as possible in planning the ceremony. The families of graduates have done a remarkable job of making this ceremony extra special with parades, mobile advertising and social media blitzes in spite of COVID-19. Local businesses and the City of Perrysburg have also stepped up to support these students and worked with the schools and families to make these extras possible.
With the restrictions that are currently in place, the graduation ceremony will be different. Out of the 155 ceremonies in our history, that is saying a great deal. I want to share my appreciation for Dr. Michael Short, PHS Principal, and his team for making this commencement ceremony as traditional as possible while respecting restrictions that are in place. As a result, there are some traditions that they will be able to share with past graduating classes. We are grateful for everyone’s patience and are looking forward to celebrating on Sunday.
For those who would like to tune in, the event will be live streamed at https://www.facebook.com/PerrysburgSchools. Also, a video recording of the ceremony will be provided to graduates and families at a later date. It is our hope that this too will be available to the general public. The edited version of Sunday’s ceremony will condense a 6-7-hour event into a shorter version that will resemble a traditional graduation ceremony, including speakers and the recording of each graduate being awarded their diploma in succession. Those graduates who are not able to attend will have their name read and their picture included along with their classmates in the final copy.
State Reopening Plans Take Shape
This past week, Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and Ohio Health Director Dr. Acton announced the plans and timelines to reopen the majority of businesses and services across the State.
While these services and businesses are not directly linked to daily school operations, we have been reviewing them closely as we plan for school in August. Later in this update, we will share more about the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) guidelines to return to school.
At the Monday, May 18 Board of Education Meeting at 5:30 p.m. that will be livestreamed via the Perrysburg Schools Facebook page, we will discuss the ODE draft guidelines and what this may mean for Perrysburg Schools.
Below is a timeline of when Ohio businesses may reopen:
• May 15: Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage services, day spas, bars and restaurants (outdoors), other personal care
• May 21: Indoor restaurant/bar service and campgrounds
• May 22: Horse racing (no spectators)
• May 26: BMVs, gyms/fitness centers, non-contact or limited contact sports, pools (excluding water parks)
• May 31: Child care facilities (reduced numbers), day camps
Of all the services that are set to reopen, the guidelines around child care were the most similar to school operations. Unlike the ODE draft guidelines, the child care services plan is quite specific and detailed. In the reopening plan, providers must operate under staff-to-child ratios that will limit the number of children in each class and facility. The ODE draft guidelines do not speak to classroom size limitation. Some of the elements of the plan are as follows:
• One day care staff member per four infants with no more than six children in the room.
• One day care staff member per six toddlers with no more than six children in the room.
• One day care staff member per nine preschool children with no more than nine children in the room.
• One day care staff member per nine school-age children with no more than nine children in the room.
Ohio Department of Education Draft Guidelines
Late this week, the Ohio Department of Education, responding to a public records request from a Cleveland area newspaper, shared a draft of the department’s “Reset and Restart-Education Discussion Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts” document (https://fox8.com/wp-contenthttps://filecabinet5.eschoolview.com/sites/12/2020/05/ResetRestartPlanningGuide-DRAFT-v3_2.1-SBOEDiscussion.pdf). It is not the final guidance, but it gives a strong indication as to what school districts must consider when reopening.
The guidelines begin with a call for daily at-home temperature checks for students, hand-sanitizing stations throughout the school and require face masks for faculty, staff members and students.
Additionally, the guideline draft “recommends” that desks be spaced at least six feet apart, high-touch surfaces like door handles and hand-rails would be sanitized regularly and visitors, large group gatherings and field trips should be limited or prohibited. ODE admits that these components may change as more data about the virus become available in the months ahead. Governor DeWine has said that starting school in the fall, in some way, is the goal.
In the plan, it does outline that staff and/or students exposed to someone with COVID-19 would be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, as would anyone who returns from an out-of-of-state trip. Someone with a confirmed or presumed COVID-19 diagnosis would have to wait 72 hours after symptoms have resolved, plus test negative for the disease twice before returning to school.
The draft guidelines also call for local school boards to consider social distancing types of measures, like reducing classroom sizes to maintain social distancing with desks and/or scheduling different groups of students to be in school buildings on certain days.
The draft guidelines also call for local school boards to consider social distancing types of measures, like alternative schedules including online or blended learning (a combination of online and face-to-face classes) in addition to traditional classes. The plan also suggests having students attend every other day or half-days to reduce student contact. Teachers, not students, might consider switching classrooms during period changes, limiting the number of students in the hallways. Also mentioned, cafeterias could be closed and students would be required to eat at their desks.
Academic achievement is also addressed with suggestions of having teachers “loop," or work with the same students for more than one year, since they know the students best and could better assess their progress. Perrysburg Schools does this already at Hull Prairie Intermediate School.
Who Makes the Decision
Also this week, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria told State Board Members that there were certain to be significant changes before students are allowed back in school. In responding to a question from Ohio State Board President Kohler about who would make the decisions for each school district, Superintendent DeMaria responded: “I think our commitment is to try and make sure people have the very best knowledge and information available for them to make the best decisions they can locally.”
This is an important response that lets school leaders and families know that it may be up to each school district to implement these guidelines on their own.
We appreciate seeing ODE’s guidelines and will use them as we plan for a safe return to school. Students need to be back in school for a variety of reasons. At the same time, we are learning more about how this virus is spread and how those who are infected by it react, including children. While children typically do not become as ill as adults do with the virus, the staff members who will drive them, teach them, serve them lunch, coach their teams and play a role during the school day do need to be also considered with these decisions. For example, over 60% of our bus drivers are over the age of 60.
Given the guidelines, we also must face the reality that there will be significant disruptions next school year. Is it unreasonable to think that in one week, five students may test positive or be presumptive positive? If that happens, consider that at PHS, with a student enrollment of 1,700 students and 96 employees, this could mean that 30 staff members and over 750 students would all be required to self-quarantine for two weeks. This is only using interactions with classroom teachers and classmates in those rooms. That number may increase if those students are on teams or in study halls, for example. In this scenario, in one week, PHS could have close to 45% of its student body and 30% of its employees out at the same time. As we look towards the future, we will need to consider not only the big questions of how do we get students to and from school and arrange classrooms, cafeterias and buses to respect social distancing, but how do we manage the continuity of the learning process given the scenario described above?
At the Board Meeting on Monday, we will talk through some of these quite plausible scenarios. No decisions have been made and the intention of my communication is not to “tip the scale” for a full return or a hybrid model. As we continue to respond to new information, we want to share with the Board and community what this means regarding planning for next school year. Local school boards, based on the ODE draft plan, appear to be the decision-makers for their districts’ plans for next school year.
As I listened to conversations with other superintendents about these guidelines and how each local school district will be struggling to implement its own plan, I began to get that same feeling when making the decision about whether or not to cancel school on a wintery morning. Except hundreds of times worse.
Just like that snow day decision, every school district has a unique circumstance that goes into that critical decision. Ottawa Hills, for example, has no busing and is less than two square miles. Eastwood, with its large district boundary, open fields, country roads and deep ditches, buses almost all of their students. The same amount of snow, ice and wind in Ottawa Hills and Eastwood may result in a dramatic difference in the decision to determine if they can safely bring students to school that morning.
Like the snow day decision, each school district will have different capabilities to address the recommendations and orders that are found in the ODE return-to-school draft. A school with a grade level that has 45 students may have more options than a school with a grade level of more than 400 students. Like Ottawa Hills and Eastwood, the best decision for each community may be different.
The only thing that superintendents can count on during a wintery weather morning decision is that once a decision is made there will be many people who will disagree with it.
Student Services and Supports
Please visit this link to view the many student services and supports available to families during this crisis, from food assistance to mental health. It is updated weekly.
If there are questions or topics you would like us to address, please email them to email@example.com.
Thomas L. Hosler
Posted Friday, May 15, 2020