Students Return To School Buildings
January 7, 2021 is a big day for Lakewood City Schools. For the first time since March, the school buildings will officially open in the “hybrid model” which means the population of each building will be cut in half, to allow more space between students, and students and staff.
For parents and students who feel that returning to the buildings is unsafe, two other learning models are in operation, as they have been from the beginning of the pandemic.
The remote learning model allows students to stay home and take the same classes their in-building counterparts will have, via zoom. Remote middle and high school students will have the same teachers and classmates they have had all year, while elementary students will have the same classes, but different teachers will be assigned to the home-learners. There is also an e-learning model which does not offer Lakewood courses or teachers but allows students to learn at their own pace, with an official State of Ohio curriculum and local supervision.
“Eighty percent of Lakewood parents want their kids back in school,” said longtime Board of Education member Ed Favre. The district sent out surveys to determine which learning model families preferred. The default model was in-school. In other words, if you didn’t fill out the form, or didn’t see the form, that was counted as choosing to have your child go back into the buildings.
The question is, of course, is it safe for Lakewood’s children and teachers and staff to be back in the buildings?
Mr. Favre pointed out that other westside suburbs have had their buildings open for months, with different sorts of hybrid learning models. An ohio.gov dashboard now makes it possible to see Covid cases broken down by zip codes. Some of Lakewood’s western neighbors have slightly higher percentage rates than Lakewood’s, which as of today was 5.8 percent.
What sets Lakewood apart is its number of cases, which as of tomorrow will top 3,000. This gives our city the distinction of being among the most infected cities in Cuyahoga County. On the state of Ohio dashboard, Lakewood comes in as the 34th sickest zipcode, by number of cases, in a state of over 1,200 zip codes.
More statistics: Our neighboring suburbs have lower populations and more square feet. Westlake has 2,054 residents per square mile, Fairview Park: 3,435 residents, Rocky River: 4,264. Cleveland, on average, has 5,107 residents per square mile.
And Lakewood? 9,426 residents per square mile. Lakewood is 5.55 square miles (http://www.city-data.com/city/Lakewood-Ohio.html) That means that there are a lot of us in a small amount of space. Larger families in smaller houses. More people in the grocery store.
What will happen when their children, who have been protected since March, bring Covid19 home from school?
Some final statistics: on January 5, the LCS District’s dashboard listed 9 Covid cases in the schools, with 30 quarantining; these numbers include students and staff. (Some students have already been in the buildings participating in the Access Point program. http://lakewoodobserver.com/read/2020/12/16/lakewood-city-schools-access-point-program-puts-students-and-school)
This dashboard will tell the story in the coming weeks, along with the daily cases in our zip code, the site is updated every day at 2pm.