Elyria Education Association recommends virtual learning following district’s announced plan

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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW)– With less than one month before school begins the Elyria Education Association is recommending virtual learning through late January.

In a letter to its more than 400 members, the Elyria school board and community, it states the spread of COVID-19 in the county and state is “increasingly unpredictable and without a sustained downward trend.”

“When you’re a teacher, I’m sorry, this makes me emotional, but when you are a teacher you’re responsible for the safety of those kids just like they’re your own kids and so we can’t be silent about something that we think is dangerous,” said teacher Koneake Lawrence.

In July, Lawrence expressed concerns to FOX 8 about the health and safety of staff and students like her son who has health complications that could make a coronavirus infection more dangerous.

“A big majority of our members don’t feel safe and that’s not something you can be quiet about,” she said.

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the Elyria City School District said they are working with the Lorain County Public Health District almost daily to monitor the situation but there has not been a recommendation to operate remotely.

The district is offering two plans to welcome students back to school next month: an all virtual option as well as a hybrid model where students would learn in a combination of in-person instruction and remote classes. 

The district said students would report to classes on certain days of the week based on their last name, reducing the number of students in school by more than half.

A school district spokesperson said the virtual academy, or remote learning only option will be taught by teachers who applied internally for the position to be online teachers. Lawrence said she withdrew her application citing she would have to report to the building.

“We know that students ought to be in school if you can have safe conditions but we got to make sure that those conditions are safe,” said the Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Scott DiMauro. 

The OEA represents more than 120,000 members across Ohio. It’s calling for full remote learning in areas the state listed at a heightened risk of the virus, according to Ohio’s Public Health Advisory Alert System.

“We are supporting members to make sure that no one has to choose between their livelihood and their health and safety. We know that there are a lot of cases; there’s some really difficult choices that people are having to make,” DiMauro says.

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