The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has updated its online and blended learning guidance for the 2021-22 school year. The guidance now includes a new section in the FAQs on temporary online learning for closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks, as well as adding FAQs expanding guidance related to online learning and blended learning.
For example, the new guidance explains:
- If a student is quarantining related to COVID-19, the student can temporarily switch to a district’s online school (if it has one). The district’s options are dependent on its existing policy for addressing short term absences related to illnesses and hospitalizations.
- A classroom, building or district can temporarily switch to online learning if the district has submitted a blended learning declaration and the district is providing primarily in-person learning over the course of the school year. The guidance also explains that a student is “primarily” participating in blended learning if the student spends a minimum of 51% of time in school
- A district that has not submitted a blended learning declaration can request that a school be classified as an online learning school and use the school for students who need a temporary option to in-person instruction for COVID-related issues.
- NOTE: Although ODE’s online learning notification form lists an Aug. 1, 2021, deadline, HB 110 provides: “If any school district school is currently operated using an online learning model on the effective date of this section, the superintendent of the district shall notify the department within sixty days after the effective date of this section of that fact and request that the school be classified as an online learning school.” (Ohio Revised Code 3302.42(A) (eff. Sept. 30, 2021).) If you did not submit a notification form by Aug. 1 and are interested in offering an online learning model, consult with your board counsel.
- In the absence of a blended learning declaration or other option that meets legislative requirements, a room, building or district that temporarily closes due to COVID-19 cannot adopt or utilize a remote learning plan to offer instruction to affected students. The classroom, building or district may utilize calamity days but, when those are exhausted, it will need to make up additional missed instruction through extended hours or additional school days.
The new ODE guidance also answers questions about graduation, technical requirements of online learning schools, teachers of record, and other aspects of online and blended learning.
The legal division will continue to monitor ODE and other guidance and share relevant information with districts. If you have questions about this blog, please contact the division at (855) 672-2529 or (855) OSBA-LAW.