© 2022 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ten Ohio School Districts Remain Fully Remote As Return Deadline Nears

The empty world language room is shown at Orange High School, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
Tony Dejak
Associated Press
The empty world language room is shown at Orange High School, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

To get their employees into a priority vaccine group, most Ohio school districts agreed to return students to classrooms by Monday, March 1. They’ve been successful for the most part, but 10 districts remain fully remote.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, over 400 school districts have agreed to five-day in-person plans, while more than 180 other districts will have all or some of students on a hybrid learning schedule.

The 10 districts that have yet to establish any in-person instruction system include some of the state’s largest, like Cleveland Municipal School District, Akron Public Schools and Toledo City School District. None are in Central Ohio.

Gov. Mike DeWine has been pressing districts to “honor the agreement” they made with the state to get employees vaccinated. With the March 1 deadline fast approaching, a DeWine spokesman said in an emailed statement that “we are hopeful that our recent outreach efforts will be successful.”

Columbus City Schools, which DeWine had publicly criticized for failing to bring back middle and high schoolers by March 1, announced on Thursday that grades 6-12 would start a hybrid model in mid-March. Grades K-5 have been on a split two day in-person, three day remote schedule since the beginning of February, but the district said transportation problems prevented the rest of students from returning.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District will remain in remote learning until at least March 8, after pushing back its reopening date by one week. CEO Eric Gordon said on Thursday that the delay is necessary for a safe transition.

Akron Public Schools is also waiting until after the state's deadline, bringing K-2 students back on March 8 and other grades back on March 15.

The administration hasn’t issued penalties for non-compliant districts, aside from hinting at revoking priority vaccine access – a threat that garnered pushback from Ohio's teachers unions.

But even that might be moot, because the state reports all but one school is on track to receive its first vaccine dose by March, and the administration won’t halt second doses for staff in remote districts.

What questions do you have about COVID-19 and Ohio's response? Tell us below, and WOSU may report the answer for a future story.