Re-Imagining School: Lakewood City Schools Present A New Re-Opening Plan

At last night’s meeting at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium, the Board of Education presented their updated re-opening plan which was adjusted after last week’s recommendation from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health that at-home remote learning be offered for all districts. The CCBH's recommendation came days before the most recent breakdown of COVID 19 numbers in Ohio zipcodes which revealed that the city of Lakewood is now in the darkest, most infected zone.

Parents were present in the audience, as well as at home through a livestream, and in the form of questions submitted online beforehand which were read aloud by Board members.

Families have two options: Every student can learn at home with their regular classroom teachers, course modules and classmates via Zoom, or they can sign up for a pre-packaged eLearning system which while it has Ohio Department of Education mandated core courses and some AP offerings, lacks LCS electives and overall does not have a curriculum that matches Lakewood City Schools’. This system allows independent learning at a student's own pace.

Parents also have the option of trying the Lakewood teacher-centric model for the first 9 weeks and switching to the eLearning model if they feel it will better suit their family’s needs.

A question asked by many parents last night was, "What will happen when and if the county becomes less dangerous?" and goes back to the orange or yellow zone as defined by Governor DeWine. 

Right now the plan outlines students going back into buildings following safety guidelines: class-sizes cut in half, in school every other day, masks for all, 6 foot distancing and temperatures taken by parents at home before school.  

A big issue voiced by parents at the meeting concerned families, who because of health risk issues within their households, can't send their children back into buildings until there is very little or no danger, and/or a vaccine. These families still want access to a Lakewood City Schools’ remote education. 

Superintendent Barnes addressed this question directly:  ‘What happens when we get better'—Because we will—'when we improve as a county and I (as a parent) still am not comfortable, and I’m not interested in eLearning. What are my options? Can I still stay remote and work with a Lakewood teacher?’  I just want the community to know that we’re working on that, we hear that concern, we hear that desire and expectation, if you will. It takes a lot of planning— details to work out, but we’re working on that. We don’t have the solution, but we are working. I wanted to make sure that came through clear enough and that the Board was aware of that.”

Many other issues were raised by concerned parents in a session that was at times emotional. All were listened to and were assured that their issues would be addressed in an online FAQ page that is continually updated by the district, which can be found at lakewoodcityschools.org, under "Re-Opening Plan."

To truly appreciate the challenge that the Board, the District Administration and the community are facing, watch the meeting on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzNsbnWuvzE.

After the meeting, Dr. Barnes clarified his earlier point. What if parents want their children to stay remote at home with Lakewood teachers when other students go back into the buildings? "We are committed to finding a way to make that happen," he said. 

He also had a message for the entire community. "We have to focus forward," he said, "We have literally re-imagined school. This is not a plan we had to rush to put together in 3 days, like we did in the Spring. Eighty teachers and staff members worked on this, with feedback from the community. It is not an alternative plan. It is school right now. We have to embrace that. If we celebrate the beginning of school this year as we usually do, the kids will follow our lead. There is power in that. My hope rests in the strength and resolve of this community."

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Volume 16, Issue 16, Posted 4:08 PM, 08.05.2020