County schools ready to reopen for 2020-21


HOUSTON — After being closed since March, local students and staff members are preparing to go back to school. The school bells will ring for Shelby County school staff and students beginning next week.

County superintendents have met to discuss reopening the school in the midst of the COVID-10 pandemic. All schools are going by guideliens provided by the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department. Detailed guidelines for reopening schools can be found on each school district’s website.

Russia Local Schools and Fort Loramie Schools will reopen on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Hardin-Houston’s first day of school on Aug. 20 is the one originally planned and approved by the board of education last year.

Also returning to school on Aug. 20 will be Botkins and Jackson Center. Christian Academy School will also reopen Aug. 20.

Hardin-Houston Schools

“We will have in school learning for five days a week. A third party online vendor will be used for those parents/students who are not comfortable with traditional in school learning for a semester at a time,” said Superintendent Ryan Maier.

The district will be following the recommendations and mandates as outlined in the Ohio School Reopening Plan.

“We will be socially distancing our students to the extent that each classroom will allow,” said Maier.

The superintendent shared what the CARES money will be used for within the district.

“We have purchased the following items to be used throughout the building: foam sanitizers for every classroom, shared spaces and buses; installed numerous bottle fillers within the building; numerous types of face coverings to be used by students and staff who request them; shield barriers; disinfectant wipes for technology keyboards; disinfectant sprayers,” said Maier.

Maier said no temperatures will be taken as students enter the building. Recess and gym classes are being planned.

“We are asking our parents to provide transportation if possible to increase the social distancing on the bus,” said Maier.

Russia Local Schools

Russia students will return to class on Wednesday, Aug. 19, with students attending class five days a week.

In guidelines provided by the school district, classroom desks and all other furniture within each classroom will be arranged to promote social distancing. Cleaning and sanitizing of desks and high touch areas will be done routinely during the school day.

Visitors will be discouraged from coming into the building.

Extra precautions will be taken during the fall sports season. Social distancing of fans in the bleachers will be encouraged.

Guidelines have been established, with the assistance of the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department, of possible exposure to COVID-19 in the school building. If a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, they must meet the following standards before returning to the classroom: be fever free for three days, other symptoms improved and 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

The school district will provide transportation to and from school for students. They are asking parents to carpool students to help cut down on the number of students on the buses.Two students will be allowed per seat on the bus. Siblings will sit together and seating charts will assign a student where to sit on the bus. Students will report straight to class from the bus.

Students must sanitize their hands before and after recess. In addition to the school’s playground, the students will also use the village playground for recess.

Parents who do not feel comfortable sending their children to school may ask for a remote learning plan. Each request will be handled on an individual basis.

If the school is closed due to infection, a remote learning plan will be used.

Fort Loramie School

The first day of class for Fort Loramie students will be Wednesday, Aug. 19, with in person instruction five days a week. Students and staff will wear masks during the school day.

Traditional bus routes will be in operation. Parents and citizens are asked to help transport students to cut down on the occupancy on the buses.

Parents not comfortable sending their child/children to school will have a remote learning plan.

Social distancing will be observed in the classroom

Christian Academy Schools

Christian Academy Schools in Sidney will begin five day a week classes on Thursday, Aug. 20, according to Superintendent Dick Dray.

“We will be starting under the guidelines the state of Ohio and local health departments have laid out for us all,” said Dray. “We’re excited to see the students and staff back here for the 20-21 school year.”

According to the district’s newsletter, face coverings must be worn at all times with the exception of outdoor time, recess, water breaks and lunch.

Hand sanitizer will be placed at all entrances and in all classrooms and in the cafeteria. Clear vinyl dividers have been placed on the students’ desks. Plexiglas barriers have been installed at key staffing locations.

Students will be expected to have their own clear reusable and refillable water bottle during the school day. Drinking fountains will not be accessible.

Meals will be served in the cafeteria with additional safety guidelines in place.

Botkins Local Schools

Students attending Botkins Local School will be returning to school with classes five days a week beginning Thursday, Aug. 20.

According to information on the school’s website, the school will be assessing symptoms, washing and sanitizing hands, thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing school environment, practice social distancing and implementing face covering practices.

The district is asking parents to check each student prior to the arrival at school for an elevated temperature. Any student with a 100.4 temperature or higher will not be permitted in the school.

Buses will be running normal routes during the start of the school year. Parents are encouraged to bring their students to school to have a greater social distance on the buses.

If the governor shuts schools or there is a large community spread of the virus, the district is prepared for remote learning opportunities online.

Jackson Center Schools

Jackson Center Local Schools Superintendent Bill Reichert said his staff is “ready to go” for the 2020-21 school year.

“I have four kids in the school system,” he said. “I’ll be here everyday and so will they.”

The first day of school for Jackson Center is Thursday, Aug. 20. Students will be taught in person in the classroom Monday through Friday.

Some families, said Reichert, have opted for remote learning, but the majority of students will be returning to school,

Reichert said the students need the structure of attending classes, and that outweighs what’s happening with the students when school’s not in session.

A limited open house will be held Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The open house will be for students in preschool, prekindergarten, kindergarten, second, fourth and sixth-grades. There will be no open house for students in the first third, fifth and seventh through 12th grade except for students new to the district.

Parents are asked to stagger their arrival times to help with social distancing requirements.

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