Tipp City Schools shift to remote learning due to staff shortage, COVID

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

TIPP CITY — Tipp City Schools Superintendent Mark Stefanik addressed the district’s temporary shift toward remote learning at the Board of Education’s work session, held Tuesday evening.

In a message sent out to parents on Jan. 11, Stefanik informed that the district would implement remote learning beginning Thursday, Jan. 13 and run through Friday, Jan. 21. During this time, students are expected to be logged in and online during their scheduled class times. Any student not participating in online activities will be counted as absent, and all class and homework assignments are required to be completed.

The early release schedule set for Friday, Jan. 14 and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 17 will still be observed by the district. Additionally, during this time, all extracurricular activities including athletic practices and games held from Thursday, Jan. 13 through Monday, Jan. 17 are canceled. The potential for practices to resume on Tuesday, Jan. 18 will be assessed on Jan. 17.

Stefanik said that district case numbers were being carefully observed over winter break as they increased toward 20 positive cases. Cases in the week after Christmas were near identical in number to the cases in the week before Christmas, according to Stefanik; at the start of this week, a high number of staff and student absences alongside positive COVID-19 cases lead Stefanik toward making the decision to implement remote learning for a week.

“Our case numbers yesterday almost equalled the weekly case numbers from last week and the week before Christmas break. We made contact with the health department and said, this is our first evidence of some sort of spike, and they said that school districts from around the county and the county community numbers were all at an increased level,” Stefanik said.

Between Monday and Tuesday of this week, Stefanik said that the district would have the highest number of cases reported in any week over the last two years.

In addition to the increase in cases, Stefanik said that the district had multiple staffing issues Tuesday, in which many teacher absences were not able to be covered by substitute teachers due to COVID hitting the district’s substitute teacher pool.

“With those numbers coming in, we made the determination that we need time for this surge to go through. We have a holiday weekend coming up, and we also have an early release day on Friday. To give families time to prepare, we’re going to start the remote schedule on Thursday,” Stefanik said.

While some districts are closing school Thursday and Friday and returning on Tuesday of next week, Stefanik said that option would not be a big enough window for the surge to run its course.

“We believe that on (Jan. 24) we should have a good staff attendance rate and an improved student attendance rate, and be able to get back to in-person learning and move forward from there,” Stefanik said.

The board approved the following items at Tuesday’s meeting:

• Richard Mains was approved as the interim Miami Valley Career Technology Center board representative for Tipp City Schools in a unanimous vote;

• The Alternative Tax Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 was adopted in a 4-1-0 vote, with Theresa Dunaway abstaining; and

• Amber Drum was approved as the Tipp City School Board representative to swear in new Library Trustee Frank Scenna at the Library Board’s upcoming meeting in a 4-1 vote, with Anne Zakkour voting against the motion.

The next meeting of the Tipp City Board of Education will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24.