In a public address on February 9, Governor DeWine requested that school districts take extraordinary measures and design plans to meet the educational needs of students. The Governor suggested that districts take such measures as extending the current school year, beginning next school year early, and even extending the current school day. The Governor also requested that school districts develop a plan to be published to their communities and the state legislature no later than April 1.
As school districts consider their options with respect to developing learning loss plans, they need to be aware of potential bargaining implications that may impact the development of these plans. School districts should proceed with caution as they endeavor to develop their learning loss plans, as augmenting the school year or school day involves numerous labor issues. Districts should be leery of unilaterally implementing any of the Governor's suggested measures, and should instead work closely with their bargaining units to reach an understanding. Any extension of school year or school day should be negotiated and memorialized with a memorandum of understanding.
In addition, Governor DeWine's suggestions carry implications for special education that districts must also consider. Changes to the school year or day may affect special needs students with individual education programs or Section 504 plans. Districts should work with the parents of students with disabilities to ensure their needs continue to be met following any changes to the school year or school day. Care should be taken to distinguish summer services meant to make up for learning lost or delayed because of the pandemic from extended school year services.
The Ohio Department of Education, working in conjunction with the Ohio Educational Service Center Association, has created a template plan for use by districts in developing their own learning loss plans. The template is available here.
Let us know if you need assistance or guidance in developing your plans.