Remote, Hybrid or In-Person?

A Q&A With Dr. Hardis

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Bcomber Archives / Bradford Douglas

“I believe many people thrive on their interactions in-person and something is lost when their interactions are online,” Hardis said.

The Beachcomber interviewed Superintendent Dr. Bob Hardis on Dec. 1 about the tough calls and the school district’s handling of the pandemic. 

What factors would prompt a return to in-person or hybrid instruction?

It’s fully our intention to be back in the schedule we had before with the hybrid for middle and high school and the five day per week schedule for elementary for Jan. 4. I don’t think that COVID spread is a risk at the schools, but I am worried about the number of quarantining staff and students. 

How do you, the school board and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health interact?

Dr. Veon and I have daily contact with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health reporting on the number of students or staff members testing positive or needing to quarantine due to positive tests. Representatives from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health have made themselves available to talk to the [Beachwood Board of Education], staff and reopening advisory committee and give feedback whenever needed. The biggest thing to improve…is figuring out how to do instruction in such short spurts in-person and finding the best way to engage students online to mimic what school in-person is like. 

What have been your biggest challenges in handling the pandemic?

Early on, individually, getting used to the constant flow of reporting coming from students, staff and families about exposures. Also, [keeping up with] reporting requirements and making sure staff and families stay informed. My biggest concern for schools overall is that there are a lot of students who are disengaging because most students tend to thrive best when they are in-person…

…I am looking for ways…to try to increase the amount of instructional time starting in the second semester…without adding a ton of time in front of screens, because I think that will not be very productive.”

What would make handling the pandemic easier?

Hope, I really mean that. I think we have that now because we have a pretty clear timeline for a vaccine or vaccines to be distributed or administered… If [we] just hang on for a little while longer, this is going to end. 

Will Beachwood require students and/or staff to get vaccinated?

I hope vaccines will be required and the appropriate exceptions will be implemented for those who need it.

How is Beachwood addressing mental health?

 When we see the warning signs, we are reaching out to that student and their parents, or people who have that expertise like the school counselors and psychologists, and we are making sure students are ok. 

What has been the most helpful protocol implemented for handling the pandemic?

Out of everything we’ve done, I am positive that distancing has been the most helpful piece of it. 

What is your plan moving forward regarding the pandemic?

…I am looking for ways…to try to increase the amount of instructional time starting in the second semester…without adding a ton of time in front of screens, because I think that will not be very productive. Last thing, making sure we are doing everything we can to be prepared to maintain precautions so schools are safe and we don’t drop our guard.  We are also looking at…how soon we can see our staff all getting vaccinated and how soon after that [our] teenagers. We want to do everything in the second semester to be able to open normally in the fall of 2021. 

Even if a lot of the people have ignored the warnings around the country or around the world, I am not worried about close to home because cases in Beachwood won’t rise. I know there are exceptions, but overall, most of our students, staff and families have adhered to basic types of precautions that have kept the majority of our community safe. I know Beachwood families, students and staff don’t function in isolation…so I have to be conscious of what happens outside of Beachwood as well. 

Why is it important to you to maximize in-person instruction?

I believe many people thrive on their interactions in-person and something is lost when their interactions are online. 

I stand by my statement about the purple. The other piece was that we may be in the purple again, and I don’t believe it is advisable for our school district to make decisions solely based on the color code. Any of my recommendations to the [Beachwood Board of Education] will always be a balance of what the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the state are saying based on their data and what we see happening in Beachwood.”

What did you think of Mr. Luzar’s speech to the school board on Oct. 26?

*Beachwood Federation of Teachers President Evan Luzar addressed the school board about teachers’ concern regarding Hardis’s Oct. 24 statement that the district would remain in-person even if the county moved to a Level Four public health advisory.

I stand by my statement about the purple. The other piece was that we may be in the purple again, and I don’t believe it is advisable for our school district to make decisions solely based on the color code. Any of my recommendations to the [Beachwood Board of Education] will always be a balance of what the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the state are saying based on their data and what we see happening in Beachwood. Currently, things got so bad that the Cuyahoga County Board of Health was worried about staying in-person, so we are virtual now. I hope what the [Beachwood Federation of Teachers] and community sees that we will always make decisions based on the health and safety of students and staff.  

How [has] the district [made] determinations about when / whether students and staff should be quarantined?

We don’t decide, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health does…From the Cuyahoga County Board of Health recommendations: if a student or staff member has been in close contact with someone who is COVID positive from 48 hours before they become symptomatic. We ask when the staff member or student became sick, see who they were with, and how long the interaction was. Then, we determine a 14-day quarantine from the day they were exposed. If the exposure is to someone who is close to you in your home and you cant isolate, the quarantine has to be 16 days. 

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, can they come back to school after two weeks?

A positive person must isolate for a minimum of 10 days. They are allowed to return to class or work in our schools once they are symptom free for 24 hours.

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