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One-fourth of Tiffin City Schools students choose virtual learning amid pandemic: Here’s what you need to know

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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Tiffin City Schools says approximately 25% of its students’ families have chosen to utilize virtual learning instead of in-person classes amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

As the deadline to register for online learning closes at 9 p.m. this Sunday, the district has released a list of frequently asked questions regarding its online learning program, the Tornado Academy.

The district’s responses to these questions are accurate as of Friday, Aug. 21, as the district says the pandemic is “still considered a fluid situation,” and research and recommendations could change.

Is the Tornado Academy curriculum the same as in-person learning will be?

“The Tornado Academy plans to use a purchased curriculum that is comparable to our in-person curriculum.”

Are TCS teachers leading the Tornado Academy classes?

“No. We will use Schools PLP, which is a purchased curriculum with asynchronous learning, meaning it isn’t in real time. Videos included for instruction can be watched at the student’s convenience within a certain timeframe. A TCS staff member will provide oversight of the Academy, serving as a touch point for questions and concerns.”

Will Tornado Academy students be behind or at least in a different spot in the curriculum when they return in January or next fall?

“Students who return to in-person learning will have the same obstacles that occur when transferring to a different school. Luckily, our teachers have experience helping new move-ins adjust to their curriculum, as students move in and out of districts all the time.”

Are there honors courses or gifted courses in Tornado Academy?

“There are honors courses only at the high school level. Any students who were on track to accelerate a grade level, such as 8. graders who had Algebra I on their schedule for this year, will accelerate in those subjects in Tornado Academy. Elementary students who originally opted into our gifted program will all receive enrichment activities/services, regardless of whether they are in Tornado Academy or in-person learning.”

Aren’t in-person classes going to go remote at some point anyway? Will the in-person students switch to Tornado Academy if the Governor or health department closes our doors?

“There is no way to predict when, if, or how often our in-person students may be required to go to remote learning. If/when we need to shut our schools doors, those students who were in-person will move to remote learning with TCS staff, much like we did in the spring. However, this time we have much planning and teacher training in place to make that a smoother transition. Our teachers will spend the last few wee. of August in trainings on how to effectively set-up online classrooms. Those online classrooms will be shared with the students on the first days of school in September, so that students are familiar with them before we should have to go remote.”

How many TCS families signed up for Tornado Academy online school so far?

“About 25% of our families initially signed up for Tornado Academy, leaving about 75% choosing to learn in-person this fall. Since the registration for Tornado Academy just reopened, those numbers are likely to change.”

Is there a magic number of cases that will close the doors for the in-person learning?

“No. There are many factors that will contribute including advisories from state and local health officials.”

What happens if a teacher, staff member, or the school nurse suspect my in-person learner child is infected with COVID-19?

“Your student will wait in a comfortable area, isolated to minimize potential spread, and the parent will be contacted to come get the student.”

What happens if my in-person learner has a classmate diagnosed with COVID 19? Does the whole class have to quarantine?

“The state guidance about this seems to change often. TCS will follow state and local health department’s protocols. If quarantine has to occur, our teachers and in-person learners are ready to go remote.”

What does a day of in-person learning look like? What kind of cleaning protocols and preventative measures will be practiced for in-person learners?

“Our custodians and staff will use disinfectant sprays each evening, so the students will arrive to a sanitized work space each day. High touch surfaces, such as door knobs and sink handles will be disinfected regularly throughout the day. Students will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer or soap to wash up often throughout the day. Desks will be arranged to maximize distance between students as much as possible. Lockers will not be used in grade 6-12 to discourage close gatherings. Extra tables for lunch will be brought in to encourage more space between students. Class changes may be one-way hallways when possible, and will occur as fast as possible to limit the time germs have to spread. Elementary students will not change classrooms for art or music, with the teacher coming to the classroom instead. Masks will be worn by everyone, according to the Governor’s directions, except for those who have an exemption as approved by Governor DeWine’s list Masks breaks will occur. These breaks may be where a teacher takes kids to sit on the lawn for a break, or even allow a student to stand far from others by an open window to take a break. Windows in classrooms will be open as much as possible to allow for ventilation, particularly in our un-air conditioned spaces. Classes may be taught outside when weather permits. No one can guarantee your student won’t catch the virus or any other illness while at in-person learning, but we are all working with the Center for Disease Control guidelines to make it much harder for that spread to occur.”

Can I still sign up for Tornado Academy?

“Yes! Registration is now open but closes for the last time on Sunday, August 23 at 9 PM. If you have trouble with the enrollment form, please contact jennifer_kuhn@tiffincityschools.org at least an hour before the registration closes.”

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