Akron schools prepare to welcome some students back to classrooms Monday


AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — On Monday, Akron Public Schools will welcome back K-2 and special needs students to the classroom after nearly a year of remote learning.

“You hope you just thought of every possible eventuality,” said Akron Public Schools Director of Marketing and Communication Mark Williamson. “We’re crossing our fingers on a lot of these things, but we know the most important thing is for kids to be back with their teachers and learning, being around their friends.”

Williamson says they’ve worked on learning plans for an in-person return since the fall.

On Friday, the school system released guidelines for students, families and staff that include requiring masks and limiting visitors inside school buildings.

Students will also have assigned seats on school busses which will be limited to two-thirds capacity.
Lunchtimes may also be staggered to allow for social distancing

The district says they are hiring additional people to help with all the changes.

“For people to come and work in our buildings for the next couple of months to help monitor kids at lunchtime, breakfast, all of those things, keep an eye on COVID compliance, because we just need extra people,” said Williamson.

The last of roughly 3,000 staff members, about 84 percent of their workforce they say, finished their vaccinations this weekend.

The district started with the teachers who have students coming back on the 8, then moved to those who handle 3rd through 12th grade who come back Monday the 15.

They say the union is on board with the plan. 

“I believe our administration has a very good working relationship with our Union,” said Williamson.

While they compromised with the state by moving the return up a week, Williamson says that time is precious.

“If we had had one more week, it would’ve been, I would say, exponentially much simpler for us,” he said.

With roughly 70 percent of about 21,000 students set to return this month, Williamson says their goal is to minimize disruption as much as they can. 

“It’s not gonna be perfect you know, and we need people to be patient and understanding and you know, know that we’re really doing everything that I think is possible to make it work and make it good,” he told FOX 8.

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