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Pickerington schools scraps hybrid learning plan for junior high students

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Pickerington Ridgeview Junior HIgh School

Pickerington Local Schools have scrapped a proposed hybrid learning schedule for junior high students.

The plan was designed to alleviate overcrowded school buildings for the 2022-23 school year.

The hybrid learning plan proposed last week would have had seventh and eighth-grade students take online classes two or three days a week — and drew harsh criticism from many Pickerington parents.

Then, during a board meeting Monday, district superintendent Dr. Chris Briggs announced those students would be fully in person for the coming school year.

Briggs cautioned the overcrowding issues facing the district remain at its two junior high school buildings.

“I still want to stress this issue and the concerns that we have does not go away. We need to address it more than just adding additional staff. We need space. We need adequate academic space for our students," Briggs said.

Voters in the school district have rejected three ballot issues for new schools since 2017.

In order to make in-person learning work, students will be placed into groups with different bell schedules throughout the day.

The district said additional staff will also be needed, which comes with additional costs.

The district has updated its junior high learning plan to help plan to alleviate space issues.

The district will also remove some locker bays at Ridgeview Junior High School over the summer to allow additional room in the hallways. It will also expand a parent volunteer program to junior highs that help keep students transitioning through the crowded hallways. A similar program already exists at Pickerington's high schools and the district is seeking additional volunteers for high school and junior high school buildings.

Matthew Rand is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher.