RIO GRANDE — While the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new problems for educators this fall, Buckeye Hills Career Center hopes to face them head-on.
“Education as we have all known it is now experiencing a paradigm shift, but we will seize this opportunity to be more innovative and continue to develop and support career technical opportunities,” Buckeye Hills Superintendent Jamie Nash wrote in a letter to students.
The campus, which is located in Rio Grande and services Gallia, Jackson, and Vinton Counties, will begin the school year with a hybrid of traditional in-person classes on campus and remote classes taken online. Students will be divided into two groups, Level I and Level II. For the fall semester, Level I students will be on campus on Thursdays and Fridays and remote the other days of the week. Level II students will be on campus on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and remote the remainder of the week. For the second semester, the groups will switch schedules.
“The health and safety of our students, staff and community is our top priority,” Nash wrote. “In addition, while maintaining this top priority, we want to ensure that we provide our students an opportunity to access critical hands-on career technical education training and rigorous academics.”
According to the plan, Buckeye Hills will also follow COVID-19 guidelines that are recommended by the CDC, state, local health experts, and district. Masks will be worn at all times as mandated by the state, and a six-feet social distance will be observed when possible.
The new schedule will make the campus less dense and help prevent the spread of the virus. With the number of students on-campus at any given time, Buckeye Hills hopes to provide safer services. Social distancing will be able to be observed in all cafeteria spaces and classrooms.
“This will provide partner schools an opportunity to provide a safer environment while transporting students to the Career Center,” the plan noted. “This schedule will modify our enrollment at approximately 50% daily.”
Busing has been a particularly thorny problem for schools to consider as they draw reopening plans. Gallipolis City Schools Superintendent Craig Wright said last week that the district hopes to be able to ensure two riders per seat, though the CDC recommends a six-feet social distance to avoid spread of the virus.
Buckeye Hills helps place graduating students into jobs their final semester. According to the plan, students “must meet all guidelines and stay in compliance with those guidelines throughout the semester. If they are found to be non-compliant, they will be removed from job placement status and return to their main campus and off-campus schedule.”
Access has also been an issue for educators developing plans for the coming year, as remote classes require internet access and devices. According to Nash’s letter, the Buckeye Hills will provide items to attending students at no cost, and other resources will be made available for students who have service issues.
According to Nash’s letter, Buckeye Hills has another plan that includes all-remote classes.
“Considerations for full closure will be based on the health and safety of all students and staff and may be based on recommendations by the state of Ohio, CDC, and local health departments,” the plan said.
Buckeye Hills Career Center will begin classes on Aug. 13.
Sharla Moody contributed to this report. Information provided by Buckeye Hills.