DeWine orders 3 week spring break

No school for K-12 starting March 16

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — A three-week spring break has been declared for all Ohio students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.

The quickly changing status of the coronavirus COVID-19 in Ohio took center stage Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared all schools will be closed for a three-week spring break beginning Monday, March 1declared6. He also banned gatherings of more than 100 people.

Because of the ban on the gathering of crowds, The Sidney Vespa Club’s annual Night at the Races has been canceled. The event, set for Saturday at the IEU Hall, was canceled by organizers after DeWine issued a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.

New Bremen Local Schools canceled its fourth-grade musical scheduled for March 12

Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble said the district has received no guidelines if the days will have to be made up and the status of extracurricular activities.

“We have had no guidance from anyone yet. We heard when you heard,” said Humble.

Prior to the announcement, local superintendents sent letters home with the students for their parents outlining the procedures the districts were implementing to keep the students safe.

Humble shared a letter being sent home to parents on the district’s Facebook page.

”The health of our students, families, and staff is of utmost concern. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently confirmed that there are positive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ohio. While these confirmed cases are in Cuyahoga and Stark counties near Cleveland, Sidney City Schools is continuing to work in earnest to reduce the potential spread of disease,” wrote Humble.

“The district is taking steps to minimize exposure and prepare for the potential school closure if directed by state or health officials by following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Shelby County Health Department, and Ohio Department of Education (ODE),” he continued.

All buildings, said Humble, are being cleaned and disinfected regularly with high-grade disinfectants as standard practice within the district; custodial staff is cleaning and disinfecting buildings more frequently, with extra emphasis on frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, desks, drinking fountains, technology, etc. Custodians are also refilling soap and hand sanitizer dispensers more frequently to ensure none ever run out. The district has ordered additional soap and disinfectant wipes to ensure our supply is ample.

All buses will be disinfected daily. Food Service will be installing hand sanitizer pumps at the beginning of every food line and at the exits of each cafeteria/gym.

”Educating our students is our top priority and that needs to be done in a safe environment. We will look to local health officials to determine the best course of action as COVID-19 spreads across our country. If it is determined that school needs to be closed, we will give parents detailed information. At this time, we encourage parents to begin to identify childcare accommodations in the event we are forced to close schools,” said Humble.

“Since we are not a one-to-one device district and not all of our families have home access to technology and internet, should we be forced to close, the district will develop plans for education engagement at home. For our primary and intermediate grades, reading with your child is one of the most beneficial things you can do. Playing board games, counting and sorting items at home, and even cooking also reinforce many objectives learned at school. Again, we will communicate plans with parents should this occur,” he said.

There are no district-related cancellations at this time, said Humble.

“Since we are entering spring break, please be mindful of your social interactions during your time off. Again, follow disease prevention practices fully. Our custodians will continue to spend time over spring break deep cleaning,” Humble said. “This global health event impacts us all. It requires all of us to take careful precautions and to follow the advice provided by public health experts. While this message outlines the steps being taken by the district, we would like to remind families that they have the full discretion to make decisions regarding their children. We will continue to provide information as this situation develops through our SchoolMessenger calling system and our website and social media platforms.”

Russia Superintendent Steve Rose said a letter is being sent home to all parents in the school district concerning COVID-19.

“When it comes to the decision of closing school as a precautionary effort to stop the spread of the conoonavirus, we will follow the recommendations of the Shelby County Health Department,” said Rose. “I talked to the Health department Wednesday morning and at this time they could not give any specific information as to what criteria they would use to make the decision.”

Rose said a plan hasn’t been finalized of what the district would do if schools were closed. There is a basic outline of the procedures the district will implement.

“If Russia school is forced to close due to the coronavirus, will will immediately transition to the following format,” said Rose.

• All teachers would still report to school and they will work on virtual lessons and assignments for their students.

• For students in grades 7-12, the primary tool of communication will be through the use of Schoology. Staff can send daily assignments and students could return them electronically. teachers will be available during the traditional school day to answer phone calls and return emails.

• For students in 5-6, they will use Google Classroom.

• For students in grades K-4, online assignments are much more difficult. The distrit will likely send home some assignments electronically but also send packets home with the child. Each week parents will be encouraged to drop off the completed packet at the school and pick up a new packet.

• If school is closed, all extracurricular activities will be canceled and school facilities will be close to all activities.

If a family doesn’t have reliable access to the internet, an alternative method will be used. If students do not have access to a reliable computer, the district will provide a Chromebook to the student.

“This is a preliminary plan that is likely to be modified and changed over time,” wrote Rose. “But we thought it was important to give parents an idea of what to expect.”

Riverside Local School Superintendent Scott Mann said the district “is continuing to monitor the situation and taking guidance from the health department and of course the governor’s office. If it is mandated that we must close for a certain period of time, we will have work available similar to blizzard bags.”

Dr. Doreen Larson, Edison State Community College president, has also made a decision concerning the classes at the college.

“We are at a unique moment in our nation’s history of public health challenges. At Edison State Community College, the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff—as well as their families—is always of utmost importance,” said Larson.

“The Edison State team, along with local and state health officials, are working diligently by identifying precautionary measures the college, as well as individuals, should take during this time. To mitigate the community spread of COVID-19, and to best protect each of us and our communities after spring break, Edison State will be taking the following action: All in-person classes at Edison State are moving to a distance-learning method of instruction until at least March 30.

“Spring break will be extended by one week to allow for this transition. Classes will resume online on Monday, March 23. Students will hear directly from their respective deans and/or faculty instructor regarding any specific instructions as we move forward. Edison State is also limiting group gatherings on campus and eliminating all non-essential employee travel,” Larson said.

“Edison State will continue to actively monitor the situation during this time to determine our next steps. All of us must do our part in getting through this challenging time,” she said.

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No school for K-12 starting March 16

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.