BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee City Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year virtually, with the hope of getting back to in-classroom instruction on October 1.
Superintendent Dr. Todd Cramer announced the new proposal last week and the board is expected to approve it at its August 12 meeting. In addition to changing to an online format, the proposal calls for pushing the beginning of the school year back to September 8. The extra time will allow staff to take part in professional development and the district to deploy devices to the students.
The new schedule would also shorten spring break and extend the school year by one week, Cramer added.
The decision to begin the school year online is based on new guidelines from the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD) which strongly recommends that districts provide virtual learning, at least until October 1 when the coronavirus threat will be reassessed.
“We are not public health experts. I feel it is important to rely upon those who are,” Cramer said. “We have consulted not only with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, but with local epidemiologists and other physicians and it has been unanimous that based on our data in Maumee, that we should start our year on a virtual format.”
The most recent TLCHD data at www.lucascounty health.com shows that the 43537 ZIP Code, which includes portions of both Maumee and Monclova Township, has the second-highest rate of COVID-19 cases, between 326-390.
Cramer is hopeful that Lucas County coronavirus cases will trend in a positive direction, so that students can return to school as soon as possible.
“Our commitment is that as soon as it is safe to do so, we will have our students back in the classroom,” he said.
Throughout most of the summer, district officials had been working on a proposal to implement in-class learning. Safety measures were being implemented as parents were asked to choose between either in-class format or online. Given the choice, an overwhelming majority – nearly 80 percent – had selected in-school learning.
That changed however when the TLCHD announced the new guidelines. The news came as a surprise to district leaders.
“All throughout the summer we did not see any state or local health department headed in this direction,” Cramer said. “We all want to have our students in front of us in our schools. However, we have to balance that desire with the decisions that the local health experts are making.”
Cramer said that district officials are reassessing data from the virtually learning that took place when the school year ended.
“We learned a lot last spring. We learned what we did well and we learned what we could do better and we want to make sure that we take all of that feedback and data that was gathered and implement meaningful changes when we go online this fall.”
For now, Maumee will follow the Ohio High School Athletic Association and Ohio Department of Health recommendations and continue with practices for contact sports including soccer and football. Competitions and practices will also continue for the non-contact sports including golf, tennis, volleyball, cross country, cheer and dance. The governor is expected to address grade 7-12 athletics this week.