Four Jewish day schools in Greater Cleveland are continuing with in-person learning as two public school districts prepare for changes to their classroom formats in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shaker Heights City School District announced plans to switch to onsite/hybrid learning on Jan. 19.

Public schools in Cuyahoga County were operating under a stay-at-home advisory since Nov. 18, which was extended through Jan. 31.

“Our buildings are safe and well-prepared for our students,” Superintendent David Glasner wrote in a Jan. 14 letter to families. He added that even if the stay-at-home advisory was extended, which it was the following day, Shaker Heights Schools students who wish to participate in onsite/hybrid learning would return to school Jan. 19.

Students returned in a staggered opening.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District announced it will extend remote learning until at least Feb. 2, following a presentation from Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby to its school board on Jan. 12.

“We have followed the guidance of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health as it relates to when it is safe to return to school,” Kirby said in the announcement posted Jan. 13 on the district’s website.

Cleveland-Heights University Heights plans to offer instruction on a hybrid model on or before March 1, pending guidance from the board of health, according to the announcement.

Beachwood City School District will continue with its hybrid learning for high school and middle school students, Superintendent Robert Hardis said in a Jan. 15 email to the CJN.

“Starting (Jan. 19), the first day of the second semester, we are adding an additional period of instruction (it will be online) to the hybrid schedule,” wrote Hardis, adding elementary schools and Fairmount preschool are continuing in-person instruction “with students clustered in smaller sections throughout their school day.”

Solon City School District is using a mix of in-person and remote learning, according to a plan shared with families over the winter break. The youngest students are in class all day long. Students in grades seven through 12 are on campus two days a week and are learning virtually three days a week. Orchard Middle School students in grades five and six who have opted to return to school are in the classroom four days a week and learning from home one day.

“Although we continue to see cases of COVID-19 among our students and staff, we are hopeful our cases are stabilizing,” Tamara Strom, Solon Schools communications director, emailed the CJN Jan. 19.

Orange City School District students are attending in either hybrid in-person or full remote options, after opening in full remote learning at the beginning of the year, Lou DeVincentis, the district’s director of communications, wrote in a Jan. 19 email.

Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood suspended in-person classes of specific grades on two occasions, Head of School Rabbi Avery Joel wrote in an email to the CJN. It is otherwise continuing with in-person classes.

The Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood has also been holding in-person classes for most of the school year. The exception has been one-week periods of remote learning following breaks for Thanksgiving and winter break.

“The decision to pivot to remote learning for these specific weeks was to take an extra safety precaution for those who may have decided to travel or had college-age children come home during Thanksgiving and winter break,” Abigail Silverman, Mandel JDS director of marketing and communications, wrote in a Jan. 15 email to the CJN.

At Gross Schechter Day School in Pepper Pike, students have also been in the classroom since late August, with some families opting for remote learning.

“Our remote students (Schechter Anywhere) actually Zoom directly into their classroom and participate in all learning activities with their classmates in real time,” Head of School Randy Boroff wrote in a Jan. 15 email to the CJN. “We make these arrangements even if a student is ill and might be absent for just a day or two.”

“Our hope,” he wrote, “is that as we continue to stay healthy and the vaccine becomes more accessible, our Schechter Anywhere students will return to the classroom.”

Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights and Beachwood, Ohio’s largest Jewish day school, has offered in-person learning since late August, Educational Director Rabbi Simcha Dessler wrote in a Jan. 15 email. “With the exception of a transition to remote learning for approximately one week prior to Chanukah vacation when there was a spike in the community and a number of classes required quarantine, the school has been (serving) its 1,254 students in person throughout the year thus far,” Dessler wrote.

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