A school district plan to start the 2020-2021 Sept. 8 is drawing a strong endorsement.

Superintendent Mike Zalar revealed at a recent board meeting his plan to begin the school year two weeks later than this past year’s Aug. 26

“I’m all for it,” said Danielle Quarles, president of the North Olmsted Schools PTA Council. “It makes sense in a lot of ways.”

Zalar told the board the later start would benefit students and staff in a number of ways.

“It will provide additional time at the beginning of the year for teachers to work on converting their courses to an online format in case school needs to be closed again due to COVID-19,” Zalar said. “Teachers will continue to receive professional development and be able to plan with their colleagues across grade levels and subject matter areas.

“It will also provide more time for needed pre-assessments of kindergarten through eighth grade in reading and math. Finally, we will be able to use the extra time to distribute Chromebooks to students and families prior to the start of the school year.”

Quarles agreed that the later start will be beneficial. She has three children in the district — one going into kindergarten, one in elementary school and one starting middle school.

“You’re not as rushed if you start in September,” Quarles said.

It also lessens younger students’ exposure to summer heat. The elementary schools are not air conditioned like the middle/high school campus, which opened two years ago.

“We appreciated it when we had the later start two years ago as well,” Quarles said.

With Ohio school districts waiting for state guidelines to determine whether classes will be in person, virtual or a combination, the additional time will help teachers prepare.

“We’re still not supposed to hear for at least a couple more weeks, so we will need whatever extra time we can get,” Quarles said.

When the state went to a minimum number of hours required for each school year instead of a certain number of days, it also lessened the need to have school days before Labor Day, since additional hours can be added to a school day, Quarles said.

The extra time will also help officials work out social-distancing guidelines for classrooms and hallways, Quarles said.

The school board is scheduled to have second and final reading on the plan at its July 15 meeting.

Contact this reporter at assoceditor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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