The future of learning


As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across GlenOak and the entire country, many are left wondering what this entails for the future of learning. 

The school has recently implemented policies for quarantining students and administrators. While these policies were created to protect the safety of those in the district, they have also created some confusion and frustration.

Deputy Principal Gayle Kimbrough spoke about the district’s protocols involving quarantining students and the future of learning in the district.

“Our plan is to stay open until we are not able to,” Kimbrough said. “We have been preparing for every possible scenario since last April. Our goal is to stay flexible and be able to adapt to whatever new variables are sent our way.”

Many students have come into contact with a COVID-19 positive patient and have been forced to quarantine. This has caused some students who perform best under face to face instruction to struggle.

Junior Tyler Donnelly was quarantined along with the boy’s soccer team this past September.

“I found it harder to focus while working at home,” Donnelly said. “I learn better coming to school and being in a structured environment.”

School administration has been thoroughly collecting and reviewing seating charts in all classrooms in order to track COVID-19 positive patients and determine those who could have possibly been exposed to the virus.

“When we receive notice of a positive case from our district nurse, based upon guidelines from the Health Department, we determine who may have been a contact,” Kimbrough said.

Teachers being quarantined is another problem created by the pandemic. When quarantined, teachers often have to alter their lesson plans. On top of that, they lose a significant amount of face to face instruction time.

Annie Zarembais an Honors and AP Physics teacher at the high school, and was one of the first teachers to be put in quarantine.

“Being quarantined made it difficult to create my lesson plans,” Zaremba said. “Students learn much better when they can interact and ask questions in class. Quarantine made me appreciate the face-to-face time I normally get with my students.”

Around 7 percent of teachers in the district have tested positive for COVID-19, and only around 1 percent of students have tested positive as of Dec. 3, according to statistics.

Stark County was recently classified as the most severe COVID-19 risk designation: purple. This dramatic surge in cases, along with the increase of those being quarantined, has led to speculation on how the district will decide to continue learning for the remainder of the school year.

Other local school districts, such as Jackson Local Schools, have transitioned to complete online-learning for the rest of 2020.

Superintendent Brent May has recently announced that he intends to keep the district open.

May stated that he intends to keep the district in person throughout the pandemic. However, he would possibly start by closing individual classrooms and buildings rather than the entire district at once.

Despite May’s announcement, the district has taken steps to prepare and train staff for a possible shutdown. 

Part of the administration’s plan is to require students to join video calls through Google Meets. Students would need to take attendance and be online for at least one hour for each class.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has presented many challenges to overcome. Now it is the district’s job to provide students with a complete education while simultaneously ensuring the safety of staff and students.