May 19, 2024


Built General Tough

Shaker Board of Education issues safety protocols for upcoming school year, celebrates Fernway restoration

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — With the delta variant leading to another spike in COVID-19 cases, students in the Shaker Schools will return to class later this month with most previously enacted safety protocols still in place.

“The bottom line: all in person, with masks,” Shaker City School District Executive Director of Communications and Engagement Scott Stephens said.

“No temperature checks, no vaccine mandates.”

Students in grades K-10 will return to school Aug. 25, with grades 11 and 12 coming back Aug. 26. Pre-kindergarteners will be returning the following week, on Aug. 30.

“We are not offering remote learning this year, although we will make provisions for kids who are medically compromised,” Stephens added.

Schools will be welcoming visitors back into the buildings again this year, but they’ll have to wear masks like everyone else inside — all students and staff members, regardless of vaccination status.

“We continue to encourage all eligible staff, students and family members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible,” district officials said earlier.

Although not required outside or when students and staff are eating indoors, face masks will have to be worn in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s universal policy that stretches to district buses as well.

Those masks will have to cover the nose and mouth and may not have a valve or respirator. “Single-layer” gaiters are not permitted.

Regulation masks will be available at all buildings and offices if an individual does not have one.

Quarantining and contact-tracing procedures and policies will remain in place, as will the district’s online COVID-19 Dashboard, which will continue to be updated on weekday evenings when new cases are reported or when cases are removed.

“The district will continue to notify families and staff of positive cases of COVID-19 in their same classroom, bus or extracurriculuar activity if the individual who tested positive was contagious when onsite,” district officials said earlier. “Phone calls also will be made to individuals identified as close contacts.”

Water fountains will remain off, although bottle fillers will be operational. Students are encouraged to bring water bottles from home to refill as needed, officials added.

“Lunch periods will be structured at each building to maintain physical distancing when possible, to minimize the amount of time students are without masks and with seating arranged to facilitate contact tracing if it becomes necessary,” officials said.

Outdoor tents will continue to be provided to serve as alternate learning and eating spaces as weather permits.

“As always, the Shaker School District will continue to review local, state and national health agency and COVID-19 data to inform policies and practices for the upcoming school year,” an earlier release noted. “Any updated student and staff health and safety information will also be released prior to the start of the school year.”

restored fernway school in shaker

A shot of the restored exterior of Fernway Elementary School in Shaker Heights, after an extensive renovation brought on by a devastating fire in July 2018. The pandemic delayed a grand reopening community celebration last year.Tom Jewell/Special to

Fernway open house

After numerous stops and starts throughout the pandemic, officials hope to have the newly renovated Fernway Elementary School reopened for good this year, including an open house that was scheduled for this week (5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16).

The school was closed for a $17.6 million restoration after a July 2018 fire, but the August 2020 reopening was postponed at the start of the 2020-21 school year — as well as any accompanying celebrations.

“While students and staff were able to use and enjoy the building throughout the past school year, due to COVID-19 restrictions this will be the first opportunity for the public to get an inside look at the ‘new and improved’ Fernway since the devastating fire that took place,” a district news release noted.

The extensive renovation allowed for:

  • State-of-the-art media center and design spaces
  • Multipurpose room
  • Art and music rooms
  • Occupational therapy room
  • An expanded and relocated outdoor play area
  • Elevator

“Many of the school’s architectural features were preserved to honor the past while improving the technology and learning spaces,” officials noted.

“The Shaker Schools Foundation is grateful to the many supporters who helped make the playscape an inviting public space with new and colorful climbing equipment, bike racks, game tables and honorary benches.”

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