Berea City Schools considers offering child care as students switch to remote learning

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BEREA, Ohio (WJW) — Like many school districts, Berea City Schools will begin the school year with remote learning due to the pandemic.

Kortney Nelson has her hands full with four children and when she and her husband learned that there would be no face-to-face classroom instruction, they were disappointed.

Two of their sons are in special education programs at Grindstone Elementary School in Berea and like many children, they had difficulty with online learning last Spring.

“They’re struggling to begin with, you add in the stresses that come with the pandemic and the online learning and I know a lot of parents have seen their kids regressing. With kids with special needs, you really have to be there, standing behind them as they do their work to help them,” said Nelson.

The Nelsons are among parents who are asking the Berea School district to allow students with special needs to return to school or to consider a hybrid program that would combine some limited face-to-face instruction with on line learning.

“I feel like the risk for them of getting severely sick with COVID-19 is far less than the risk of them falling further behind at school,” she said.

Nelson and a number of other parents say they were perplexed when the school district indicated that it was taking a survey to gauge the level of interest in a K-8 day care program that the district could potentially offer in the Fall.

“How is that safe and if you have the capacity to bring back a percentage of the students with a smaller amount of staff, then why not bring back the special education kids instead of having parents pay for day care,” she said.

On the Berea City Schools Facebook page, the school district wrote that many working parents have indicated that child care is a top concern.

As for those who question how the schools could offer day care, while not allowing students to return to the classroom for instruction, the district posted a statement that reads in part: “Child care is not school. the staff-to-child ratios must adhere to gathering standards put forth by Governor DeWine. the number of children in any child care program is also limited due to staffing and space…this survey was only to gather data and gauge interest. The district will be communicating the reality of this possibility in the coming weeks.”

In response, Kortney Nelson told Fox 8, “they’re not a day care, they’re not there to babysit our children. They really should be coming up with ideas of how they can meet the needs of special education children and all the children in their district.”

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