Summit School District to make call on increased secondary in-person learning by spring break
School board has vacancy with Gini Bradley’s resignation
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct date for Summit County School District’s spring break.
At Thursday’s board of education meeting, the Summit School District spoke about the latest prospects of returning more children to in-person learning as well as “rite of passage,” end-of-year celebrations like prom and graduation.
District Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. and Chief Operating Officer Drew Adkins said the district is looking to make a decision by the start of spring break — which begins April 17 — on whether there will be more in-person learning at the middle and high schools after the break. That decision, Adkins said, will come within the next two weeks as the district, like the county, has seen an uptick in cases and quarantines in recent weeks. Currently, secondary students alternate days between remote learning and in-person instruction.
“Right now, it’s premature to be able to do that, especially with the spikes,” Adkins said about making a change while cases are rising.
Adkins said the recent positive cases in the district include two COVID-19 variants at the middle and high schools.
“The variants are a curveball for us, for sure — in the entire community,” Adkins said. “We are hoping we can ride out this spring break.”
When the state’s latest COVID-19 dial expires April 15, Adkins said he has been told that local public health agencies still will have COVID-19 metrics that regulate district decision-making.
Adkins said the district this week spoke with school principals about how various state dial levels would regulate events like prom, graduation and the fifth-grade promotion. Adkins said the state hasn’t put out guidelines on graduation, so the district is planning for maximums of maybe 200 to 500 people at any commencement ceremony. For the high school, that would be much fewer than the 3,000 people Adkins said typically attend graduation. That means the district likely will have ticketing, symptom-screening and physical-distancing rules in effect.
“We’re still looking at different ways to split up a very large event but still have it and host it, whether outside or inside” Adkins said. “There are weather implications, and the high school team is working on that.”
Adkins said the state has shared prom guidance and worked with the high school on the traditional dance event, which also will depend on what dial level the county is in. Currently, Adkins said the state public health department is recommending “pods and cohorts” of no more than 10 youths at the event.
“Dancing is OK within new guidance, which is great,” Adkins said. “It wouldn’t be prom without dancing, and certainly that’ll be in those groups — not the kids 6 feet apart, necessarily, but the pods 6 feet apart.”
By the time prom rolls around, Adkins said the district might be able to test students with its new BinaxNow COVID-19 rapid tests.
Though the state is expected to lift its mask mandate April 4, the district will keep its mask mandate afterward, Adkins said. He also said he expects the state to make “a renewed commitment” to its 6-foot distancing standard for schools, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decreasing the recommendation to 3 feet last week.
Looking ahead to next year, the district expects to have some COVID-19 cases, which means remote learning “is still a priority … and would continue next year,” Adkins said.
Other things Adkins said the district has talked about continuing next year include ventilation, cleaning, a smaller contact-tracing team, testing and vaccinations — something Adkins said the district has spoken to county Public Health Director Amy Wineland about.
The Summit School District Board of Education announced at Thursday’s meeting that board member Gini Bradley has resigned. Bradley submitted her resignation March 12.
Bradley’s departure leaves a vacancy on the board that will be filled within the next 60 days. Those interested in the position can send a letter of interest, including a brief biographical statement, to school board Executive Assistant Molly Speer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The board will interview prospective candidates May 13 and anticipates filling the vacancy at the May 27 meeting. The appointee will serve until the next regular school biennial election in November.
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