APS Delivers Plans at Meeting

Board to Study Proposals for Reopening
Posted on 07/11/2020
Akron Public Schools delivered to its board last night reopening recommendations that are based on expected requirements for social distancing of at least six feet and 50% capacity on buses.

Chief Academic Officer Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., told the board, "We have to take every classroom and split it in half to accommodate these guidelines."

The detailed report, which took nearly two hours to present in its entirety, was thorough and addressed virtually every concern and potential solution.

The recommendations, created by eight committees of administrators, teachers and parents, are still in draft form. A final version would go to the board mid-July for a vote.

The blueprint will also be updated after the state releases its guidance.

Akron Public Schools began working on a plan weeks ago, rather than waiting for official word from the state of Ohio. The teachers' union, the Akron Education Association, was heavily invested in the process.

Said President Pat Shipe, “We had to start working on developing the plan knowing we would have to adjust it to whatever guidelines come out from Columbus."

Superintendent David W. James, Ed.D., said after the meeting that they have been ever mindful that any plans made by public schools will have a significant effect on families and their way of life. "We know what decisions we arrive at will have an impact on child care issues at home and on whether parents can return to work."

A parent survey showed about 80% of parents were planning to send their kids back to school in the fall, with another 12% still unsure.

Chief Academic Officer Ellen McWilliams-Woods said parents will need to decide by July 24 and would need to commit to an option for the full semester. All parents have the option to have their children do 100% online learning through APS Online, Akron Public Schools online learning program.

As for what school may look like:

The recommendations call for every student and staff member to wear a mask at school.

The district likely has enough space to allow for students in kindergarten, first and second grades to be at school every day. Business Affairs Director Debra Foulk cautioned that more space may be needed in the crowded North cluster of schools.

Kindergarten-through-grade-two students would, under the plan, stay with their main classroom teacher for half of the day to focus on math and reading. The other half would be spent in physical education and art. It would also include enrichment activities and as-needed interventions.

Students in grades three through eight would come to school two days a week and would be learning -- online -- the other three.

High school students would do the majority of their lessons online and would be scheduled in small groups within their College and Career Academies to come to school for labs, projects and other hands-on work.

Students with significant disabilities, no matter their grade level, would be prioritized to come to school every day of the week.

And, there was a cautionary note from AEA President Pat Shipe who said, "Our plans have to be flexible. At different points in the year, one or more schools may have to go entirely remote if an outbreak were to occur."

Click here for the video of the June 29 Board Meeting >>.
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