Yellow Springs shifts school reopening plan; virtual meeting Monday

Yellow Springs teachers are calling for 100% online school this fall amid COVID-19 concerns. The district will host an online town hall meeting Monday at 6 p.m. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Yellow Springs teachers are calling for 100% online school this fall amid COVID-19 concerns. The district will host an online town hall meeting Monday at 6 p.m. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Credit: Jeff Guerini

Credit: Jeff Guerini

The district will not have five-day-a-week, in-person school, but final details are pending

The Yellow Springs school district has shifted gears and will not offer five-day-a-week, in-person classes to start the fall semester, but district officials say they are still working out the final details of their plan.

Yellow Springs’ teachers union is calling for a 100% online start to the school year, citing safety concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Superintendent Terri Holden will host a virtual town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Monday and is hoping for significant parent input on restarting school amid COVID-19 concerns.

“The town hall tomorrow is a chance for parents to ask questions — what can I help them understand better about our options?” Holden said Sunday. “I want a sense of what our parents are thinking.”

The district had originally posted a plan on its website to go back to “regular, in-person classes” for the coming school year. But Holden said Ohio’s COVID-19 situation has changed significantly since that plan was announced.

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Holden said parents will be presented with two options.

Under one option, all students would do 100% remote/online education taught by Yellow Springs’ own teachers. A Q&A on the district website says students would be provided with Chromebook computers and “hot spots” for internet access if needed.

If the district chooses the other option, families would choose between two pathways. There would be an in-person model where students were divided into two groups, with each group going to school two days a week and working from home the other days. That would improve social distancing in the schools.

The other pathway families could choose within that second option is 100% online education, but students would take those courses through a third-party provider. Those courses would be with a third party because of the difficulty of Yellow Springs’ own staff simultaneously teaching in-person and online models.

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Yellow Springs’ teachers union wants the first 100% online option, taught by local teachers. Union co-presidents Kate Lohmeyer and Sarah Amin argue there are still “too many unknown factors about the true impacts both in the short- and long-term, of COVID-19.”

“It is unsafe for our school community to be gathering indoors in groups in any location, however, it is particularly unsafe to do so in Yellow Springs Schools’ facilities without proper air ventilation,” Lohmeyer and Amin wrote in a letter to Holden and the school board last week.

The teachers union said the schools should start online while working to address internet access issues for students and the burden they acknowledged at-home education can place on parents and families.

“We hope to move toward in-person experiences when the data and evidence strongly support it is safe to do so,” they wrote.