Last Wednesday, at our weekly townhall meeting, OSBA hosted Dr. John Richard, deputy state superintendent of public instruction. Dr. Richard joined the meeting to discuss the plan for schools to reopen. The discussion centered around a three-prong approach: reset and restart planning guides, Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) dedicated webpage of resource, and networking. The townhall format allowed board members and school board attorneys who participated to ask Dr. Richard questions directly. A recording of the townhall meeting, along with a copy of Dr. Richard’s presentation, are available at on OSBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page.

The reset and restart plan from ODE is focused on collaboration with state and local health departments, getting assistance from practitioners and associations, and supporting local planning. The draft document ODE is formulating has four basic areas; health and safety, educational considerations, social/emotional considerations, and operational considerations. However, each of these areas change almost daily due to the input from the governor and the department of health.

There are many principles guiding the reset and restart but the driving sentiment expressed in the townhall meeting was health and safety. Dr. Richard also said the state is emphasizing flexibility. He noted that ODE will be extending some deadlines that are fast approaching. He also encouraged districts to be flexible with the needs of students, families and staff because every person has different health and safety concerns. He mentioned the possibilities of a flare up in cases, which could require the agility to shift to different learning environments.

Dr. Richard did not have definitive answers on how every school should open because ODE wants to leave the majority of decisions to local boards, as they know their communities. He noted that what works for a large urban district may not be the best approach for a small rural district. However, he suggested that boards work with educational service center (ESC) so tangential communities did not have dramatically different approaches and can assist in the local issues in those particular districts.

Dr. Richard answered a number of other questions. In response to a question about blended learning and the July 1 deadline to file  a blended learning form, Dr. Richard stated the date will be pushed back, probably November. This would allow a district to enter the year in one mode and switch to another very quickly. At this time, the deadline has not been changed formally. When the extension is formally announced, OSBA will post that information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page.

The planning document Dr. Richard referenced throughout the townhall has not been officially published. When it is available, OSBA will make it available on the. Resources page. You can find a wide variety of other resources on the page.

If you haven’t attended the weekly townhall meetings in the past, you can find more information about , and register for, this week's meeting here. Please join in on the discussion!

Posted by Ralph Lusher III on 6/8/2020