Following a lengthy meeting and discussion, Loveland School Board voted 3-2 to adopt the full return plan for Loveland Schools

By Julia Quigley, LHS Senior – Student Reporter

LOVELAND, OH (September 23, 2020) – It was not a unanimous decision, but the Loveland City School District Board of Education voted 3-2 to adopt plans for a full capacity 5-day return to school for Loveland students beginning in October.

Loveland School Board and Administrators during over 5 hour meeting Tuesday, September 22, 2020 (Photo Julia Quigley)

On Monday, August 31, 2020, Loveland City School District began the year with a half online, half in-person school schedule, consisting of two cohorts. Students with last names A-K are cohort A (or “AM” for grades K-4), while students with last names L-Z are cohort B (or “PM.”) Both groups attend school in-person on alternating days of the week – or in the morning versus the afternoon for the younger students – in order to maintain social distancing and avoid the spread of COVID-19. Families were also given the option to do fully remote learning if desired. 

Before the start of the school year, the district indicated it would review how to return to full capacity for all in-school students. According to Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse, the Board of Education’s goal for the 2020-2021 school year is for Loveland Schools to operate full-capacity once it’s safe to do so, a goal that is supported by the majority of parents in a recent survey. At the board meeting on Tuesday, September 22, the Board voted 3-2 to adopt the following target dates for the (soonest) full return to school:

  • October 5: PreK – 4th Grade
  • October 12: Grades 5-8
  • October 26: Grades 9-12

“We spend the majority of our day working very hard to balance mitigating the spread of the virus while trying to offer all the academic opportunities that they [the students] had while they were in normal school,” said Dr. Crouse.

Exhibit from presentation to LCSD BOE 9-22-20 Full Capacity Return To School (Photo: Julia Quigley)

When making the decision on the return to full capacity, the Board had to take into consideration what the situation looks like at the moment. At Loveland, there have been two confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, one being a staff member and the other being a student. Both have been quarantined and all who were suspected of coming in close contact with them were notified. Apart from those two cases, there have been no other confirmed COVID-19 cases. Other factors that must be considered include resources needed for a full return, such as transportation, classroom space, and the cost for additional staff and substitutes, etc. Orders from the local health department and Governor Mike DeWine must also be taken into account.

Part of presentatin from 9-22-20 BOE meeting shows survey results on comfort level returning to full capacity learning (Photo Julia Quigley)

Based on data from other school districts in the region, Loveland is one of the few schools that have kept a blended learning model.  However, schools that have been implementing a full-capacity schedule have not experienced as many cases as expected. The number of cases and necessary quarantines varies. At one neighboring district, seven cases have resulted in almost 160 quarantines.

The main responsibility for the Board has been to carry out a continued evaluation in order to decide when students may be able to return fully, while also being responsive to the community, particularly to parents and teachers through survey results. Based on the survey data received, families and students are the most comfortable with returning to a full-capacity schedule, while teachers are the least comfortable. Not all students agree going back full-time is a good idea.

“If we were all to go back, a lot of kids would probably get sick and then we’d all be back to 100% remote like last year, which is not how I want my senior year to end,” says Katy Einberger, a student at Loveland High School.

According to Dr. Crouse, “It’s more about quarantine than it is about spreading illness.” There is no evidence in any of the neighboring schools open full time that illness is spreading, but there is the quarantine issue. If Loveland were to return to a normal schedule, and the number of COVID-19 cases started to increase, it would be a matter of who must be quarantined, not school shutting down completely and going to fully remote.

“School, no matter what, is not going to look like 2019 school,” said Dr. Crouse. “We’re working hard to make the best of it.”

The online academy will remain and students who selected the fully remote learning option will be able to continue with that. The Board will meet next on October 6 to review and possibly reevaluate the dates for a full return for grades 5-12 based on new data at that time.

Click here to visit Loveland Schools website

Click here to access the Livestream Video from Tuesday, September 22, BOE Meeting (Note: The meeting was 5h-56”-10’ in length)