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AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — The Akron Public Schools Board of Education on Monday evening voted to begin the school year with students learning from home.

“We have studied and researched. We have followed guidance from all of the experts locally, regionally, statewide and nationally. We have also met with and discussed plans with other Ohio schools large and small. It is our belief this is the best way to begin; the safest way for the greatest number of students and staff,” Superintendent David W. James, Ed.D. said, following tonight’s meeting.

According to a press release from Akron Public Schools, the 45 schools had an option to begin the year fully on-site with 21,000 students in classrooms; another option was blended learning, which would have staggered days in and out of the classroom for students.

“We have a lot of health disparities within our population, a lot of asthma,” said superintendent James. “We have in our nurses stations in our buildings a lot of insulin or diabetic students. There are a lot of health issues within our community to start without COVID-19,” he added. “We’re going to be entering flu season and I can just see if we would have opened in person; I really believe that there’s going to be a lot of hysteria when a kid comes in with the sniffles or fever. For us, it would be wise to start remotely.”

Board President Patrick Bravo said the risk of that many students and teachers “trying to keep everyone safe, at this particular stage of COVID-19 is just too great.”

Bravo said they will reevaluate as they approach the end of the first semester — in roughly nine weeks. The decision on how to move forward will depend on what is happening with the pandemic.

Akron Public Schools noted in its release that students in special programs (STEM, Early College or any students taking college level courses) must follow what the university schedule dictates whether those are in person or online.

The following was released when it comes to online learning for Fall 2020:

  • Teachers will develop robust programming to provide support and close the gaps that occurred during the spring online learning and the summer slide
  • Staff training and professional development will continue to support teaching and learning throughout the 2020-2021 school year
  • Teachers will assess student learning needs to design and plan personalized learning pathways
  • Planning for interventions to be based on identified student gaps in knowledge
  • Continue using the Ohio Learning Standards as the basis for teaching and learning
  • Continuation of the PK-12 College & Career Academies of Akron transformation