Athens City School District Plans Gradual Return For Some In-Person Instruction

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Athens City School District will begin to bring students back into the classroom gradually after beginning the semester with complete remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Athens City Schools sign
[Yi-Ke Peng | WOUB]
In an email to board members, administrators, faculty, and staff Wednesday morning, Superintendent Tom Gibbs outlined a draft of the plan.

October 12-16 Preschool
October 19-23 Kindergarten, 7th grade at Athens Middle School and 11th and 12th grades at Athens High School
October 26-30 Grades 1-3, 8th grade at Athens Middle School and 9th and 10th grades at Athens High School
November 2-6 Grades 4-6

This schedule only applies to students who have chosen to return to school when safe to do so. Any students registered to be online for the entire school year will remain in online instruction.

“This gradual reintroduction of students into the building will allow us to make sure our safety protocols are being implemented with fidelity in an effort to provide the safest environment possible for our students,” Gibbs wrote.

The plan calls for a hybrid model where students will have three days of online learning and two full days of in-person instruction.

For in-person instruction students will be divided into two cohorts that will be in the classrooms on different days. Cohort A will be in classrooms on Tuesday and Wednesday. Cohort B will be in the classrooms on Thursday and Friday.
“We will be making every effort to keep groups of students together throughout the day, however this will not be possible at Athens High School,” Gibbs wrote. “The implementation of the block schedule at AHS will help to reduce the frequency of student movement throughout the building.”

Some classes may remain entirely online to limit travel of students and teachers throughout the building.

The following expectations will be in place for all students in the buildings:

-Wear masks throughout the day (unless there is a documented exemption)
-Most students will eat lunches in their classroom
-Maintain 6 feet of social distancing whenever possible
-Remain in homeroom “pods” or limited class switches throughout the day
-Elementary students will have one scheduled outdoor recess time a day with their homeroom. Students must maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
-Opportunities for indoor movement breaks near their seating area throughout the day.

The plan must receive final approval from the Athens City-County Health Department.

School nurses and building administrators will begin communicating specific schedules and protocols for families within the next week.

“We will continue to monitor COVID cases in the City of Athens and Athens County and will make adjustments to in-person instruction as necessary based on levels of community spread of the virus,” Gibbs wrote. “To be clear, for a variety of reasons, we will not rely on the State of Ohio County Alert System for our final decision-making. We will be looking more closely at community spread of COVID beyond the university student population.”

Athens County had 740 total cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic as of Tuesday, most of those coming from the 20-29 age group.

For the past four weeks, Athens City School District has provided in-person activities for multiple special education students at each building throughout the District, school athletes, the Marching Band, and students needing individual testing.

According to Ohio Department of Health data as of September 24, the district has reported one COVID-19 cases involving a staff member. No there have been no reported cases involving students.


This story will be updated with new information as it comes in.