LEXINGTON — Lexington Local Schools will not offer a fully-remote learning platform next school year, superintendent Jeremy Secrist said.
In terms of learning formats, the district will return to pre-pandemic norms with most students learning in the traditional classroom.
Lexington will continue to offer a “blended learning” option for students with extenuating circumstances, but the district is not recommending it for elementary students.
“We’re just returning to what we did before prior to COVID," Secrist said. "Prior to COVID, we did not have a blended learning program for K thru 5."
Secrist said the district will continue making accommodations for students as necessary, but that it’s vital for elementary-age students to be back in the classroom.
“We did what we had to do this year and it worked well. Our teachers went above and beyond,” Secrist said. “But when you have a kindergartener, first grader, second grader and a teacher’s trying to teach a kid to read, they need to be here."
The district transitioned its blended learning program, the Lexington Digital Academy (LDA), to an all-remote option during the 2020-2021 school year.
Next year the program will be renamed the Lexington Learning Lab and include a combination of online and in-person learning consistent with district and state guidelines.
The State of Ohio requires students in a blended learning program to have some in-person connection to the district, whether its reporting to a school building to take tests, taking some classes in-person or participating in extracurricular activities.
Tucker Bacquet, the junior high and high school curriculum director, said he expects enrollment for the Lexington Learning Lab to return to “pre-pandemic” levels this fall. Admission to the learning lab program will be limited to secondary students with unique circumstances that prevent them from succeeding in a traditional classroom.
“We want our students back in school as much as possible," Secrist said.
Multiple parents attended Wednesday's school board meeting to voice concerns about whether the district will continue practices like mask-wearing, contact tracing and quarantining next school year.
Secrist stated that all state health orders have been removed, but that Richland Public Health will still have jurisdiction over quarantine and isolation guidelines.
Board Vice President Keith Stoner said area schools haven't been informed of any health guidelines for next school year.
“We’re not hearing a lot from the health department right now," Stoner said. "There’s not a lot of discussion."
Secrist said district leaders will continue to emphasize that parents should keep students home if they don't feel well.
“We will work with you if your kid is absent," he said.
The heightened cleaning regimens inside school facilities and buses will also continue.
Secrist said the district would continue to follow any state health orders, which led parents to ask where the district would "draw the line" in regards to health authorities' recommendations.
“I don’t think that decision can be made as we sit here today," he said. “It’s our intent to come back as 2019."
The district also approved a payment in lieu of taxes school compensation agreement with Charter Next Gen as part of the company's Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) agreement with the village of Lexington.
Under the agreement, Charter Next Gen will compensate the district for funds lost as a result of its proposed tax abatement from the village.
According to treasurer Jason Whitesel, the district will receive $62,982 in compensation every year for 15 year duration of the tax abatement.