“Our hope is to come back as close to normal as we possibly can.”
By using gyms and deploying every possible teacher, even if they don’t have all the proper certifications, Steubenville’s superintendent Melinda Young is hoping to “open up all day every day.” The only exception is that 4-year-olds will attend three days a week and 3-year-olds will go two times a week.
“We just feel so strongly that we need those students in front of us. We need to see them and make sure they’re OK,” she says. “I think they need to see how much their teachers care about them.”
If families want to keep their children home, she said, students will be able to join classes remotely. But, she said, “The majority of our families want their children to come back full time.”
The biggest worry, says Lynett Gorman, principal of West Elementary School, is transportation. The logistics of where children sit on the bus, where they enter buildings, and possibly staggering opening and dismissal times, are the questions that school administrators are now thinking through.
“We’re planning for the best-case scenario. But we have a Plan B and Plan C,” Gorman said. “We don’t want to be caught off-guard the way we were this spring.”
In this episode of ExtraOrdinary Districts in Extraordinary Times, Young and Gorman talk through many of the issues facing school administrators as they think through bringing students back into the building, such as hiring additional janitors, ensuring daily temperature checks, and ordering masks and medical-grade shields for teachers. Steubenville has enough of a budget surplus that the recent budget cut from the state shouldn’t affect the educational program for a year or so, but if budget cuts continue that will mean cuts to programs and the teaching staff.