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Village Schools

State nixes YS school district’s hope to end academic year early

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Yellow Springs Schools Superintendent Terri Holden announced Friday, April 24, that despite the district’s hopes to end the school year two weeks early, after students reach the minimum instructional hours required for the year, distance learning would continue through the originally scheduled final day, May 29.

In a letter to district families, she wrote that the Ohio Department of Education, or ODE, “has provided strongly worded guidance stating that all schools should remain in session virtually until the last scheduled school day.”

Holden had spoken to the Yellow Springs school board earlier in the week, during a special meeting online, about the benefits she saw in wrapping up the 2019–20 year early. Finishing two weeks early would give teachers time to assess their efforts this year and begin planning for next fall, when an online component may be part of the curriculum, she told the board Monday and reiterated in her letter Friday. But perhaps more important to Holden was the relief that an early end would give families whose children have been working from home since all K-12 schools in the state closed March 17 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I assumed that parents and families by mid-May might have reached capacity for remote learning,” Holden wrote in her letter.

School board members were supportive of the superintendents recommendations, but opted to survey teachers and parents before acting, The ODE’s reluctance to allow districts leeway to end early, however, nixed the local efforts.

Holden wrote that the district will continue with its current plan, but will begin winding down the year during the week of May 18. Mills Lawn students will spend that week meeting with music, gym and other “specials” teachers, while McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High School students will prepare for a Virtual Exhibition Day on Friday, May 22.

The week of May 25 will feature final reflection sessions between teachers and students “so that they may be able to feel some sort of positive closure for this school year,” Holden wrote.

Plans for honoring graduating seniors, including a possible ceremony later in the summer, are being explored, Principal Jack Hatert told the school board Monday.

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