DeWine Extends School Closures to May 1

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, online school continues


Morgan Fowler

A sign is posted outside of the administration building stating closure until further notice.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a 2 p.m. press briefing today that K-12 school closures statewide will be extended until at least May 1 because of the state’s rate of COVID-19 transmission.

Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations Scott Stephens said the district was anticipating the extended closure. “We were frankly waiting if it was going to be for the entire school year or for a lesser amount,” he said. 

DeWine announced March 12 that students would have an extended spring break until April 3. This order included public, private and charter schools.

Junior Naomi Reizes said today’s announcement did not surprise her. “I saw it coming. It just wasn’t official. As we went through the past three weeks, or I guess the past two weeks, it’s been sort of clear [COVID-19 is] not going to come to the peak until May-ish,” she said.

As an International Baccalaureate student, Reizes has concerns. “Obviously it affects seniors more but for us, like the juniors, for the two-year classes, I’m pretty sure it’s going to set us behind,” she said. “Next year they spend a bit of time either in the beginning or the end of the year reviewing, and I feel like if we stay out of school, which we are, we might have to lose that time.”

Freshman Mary Basilion said the extended closure affects underclassmen, too. “As a freshman I don’t have to worry about AP tests or anything, but it does interfere with my school sports and I also might not see my teachers again,” she said. “It’s just so frustrating, and I think it makes learning harder because we have to do everything online.”

Shaker students have been in what the district calls a Level 2 learning environment since March 18. Under Level 2 conditions, lunches and breakfasts are distributed to students eligible for free or reduced meals, the second quarter was extended until April 3, and teachers hosted optional virtual office hours via Google Hangout Meets twice weekly, excluding spring break. Students received Google Hangout Meet links from their teachers prior to office hours occuring. No new instruction has been occurring during this interval.

A district email sent to Shaker students, staff and families March 27 stated that the district anticipated “moving to Level 3 for all students, faculty and staff on Monday, April 6.” The email also included the Shaker Extended School Closure Plan. Students in grades K-12 would continue virtual schooling online at Level 3. Level 3 virtual schooling for grades five through 12 will include daily attendance, necessary meal distribution and online classes for students on a rotating schedule through Google Meets.

The district is maintaining a technology repair service process at the high school. Students can drop off malfunctioning Chromebooks Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In an email today, the district informed staff and the community of the “goal of full implementation of Level 3 at all buildings on Monday, April 6.” Juli said Level 3 status will continue until face-to-face learning resumes.

The district also wrote that it encourages all families in need of a free or reduced meal plan to complete an application. There is no deadline to the application

Basilion said she has less motivation to do school work when she is home. “At school, you are in the mindset to learn, and at home there are a lot more distractions,” she said.

Reizes is unsure whether online learning will be difficult for students. “It depends on who you are and how self-motivated you are, because you could just ignore your computer or your phone,” she said. 

Rachel Perry, senior Maggie Perry’s mother, said remote learning will continue. “I still think it’s gonna be great because the schools are great, and the teachers are great. But I think parents should probably revise expectations and just be OK with it being good, but maybe not perfect,” she said.

“Our goal is not to put kids in front of a screen all day,” Stephens said. “Our goal is to deliver interesting and compelling lessons to all of our students.”

On March 15, DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants to close. The following day, DeWine announced gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, indoor water parks, trampoline parks, and bowling alleys to close indefinitely. 

On March 22, DeWine ordered all Ohioans to shelter in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in December in Wuhan, China. It can spread between people who are within approximately six feet of each other through respiratory droplets produced when infected individuals cough or sneeze. There are 1,933 confirmed cases in Ohio today, according to state health officials, compared to 1,122 confirmed cases on March 20, 440 cases and four deaths coming from Cuyahoga County as of today.

In response to DeWine’s orders and the continued threat of the spread of COVID-19, the district canceled all events through April 30, including senior prom, spring performances and school related trips. 

“I think it’s kind of upsetting, especially for the seniors who are going to be missing big events like prom and maybe graduation,” Basilion said. 

Shaker is also making contingency plans for commencement, which is scheduled for June 3. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do commencement as planned, and if we can’t, we don’t want to be last in line to get an alternative,” Stephens said. 

While commencement plans have not been officially decided, senior Maggie Perry doubts they will happen by June 3. “I feel like this is such a complicated position for the school to be in. I mean, this is our senior graduation — it’s such a big milestone,” she said. “But considering how many people would be in a room together, that’s scary. I’m glad I’m not the one making these decisions. But I’m thinking if they need to, they will just postpone it. If that happens, they need to tell us soon.”

Stephens said providing robust distance instruction will enable seniors to earn the credits they need to graduate on time. “The last thing that we want is for any student who was on track for graduation to not graduate. We want to work very hard to make sure that does not happen,” he said. 

Juli said he is working hard to get every senior to graduation. “I’m working with the guidance counselors now, and we’re going senior by senior to see what requirements, if any, have to be met, and then we’ll be reaching out to those seniors individually,” he said. 

The district has not yet announced the status of senior project, which is to begin May 4 and conclude May 28. 

Juli has placed the senior project on hold. “If I’m answering the question today, there is no senior project,” Juli said. “So many of the senior projects involve community organizations, and right now, we just don’t know when they’re opening back up. As we get closer to May 1, we’ll have better clarity about what’s going to happen after May 1.”

Senior Emily Cawley is upset and said there is no closure for seniors. “I was told earlier last week that we really didn’t know anything, but if our sponsors started pulling out, we probably wouldn’t have project,” she said. “It’s really sad. We worked our whole four years, and then you get to celebrate at the end with all your friends and your last hurrah, and we don’t really have that.”

“If we’re closed up until May, I’m assuming that the business I was going to intern for is also going to be closed up until then,” Cawley said. “There’s nowhere for me to go, so probably no project.”

Maggie’s mom said she is devastated for all of the seniors. “My heart breaks for them, for everything that they are missing out on, all the celebrations and the things that they have been working towards their entire lives,” she said. 

“I know that the school and the teachers are doing everything they can. I think that overall, my teachers have really been making this as best as it possibly can be and try to keep a little bit of normalcy for us during this crazy time,” Maggie Perry said. 

Maggie’s mom said, “I think it’s actually a really good thing in terms of protecting people, but I recognize that it’s going to be hard on a lot of working people. Ultimately, I think it’s the right thing.”

The Shakerite will continue to cover this story as it develops. Mae Nagusky, Anna Krouse, Lauren Sheperd and Danielle Krantz contributed reporting.

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