Keeping Elyria's parents, staff and students in the know.
It's not often you get to start a new school year by announcing the opening of brand-new schools—and yet, somehow, we here at Elyria Schools have the distinct privilege of doing this two years in a row.
After opening three new buildings last year, we're kicking off the 2021-22 school year by opening another new building—Eastern Heights—while a second new building, Westwood Campus, will open later this year.
It's a truly exciting time for Elyria's students, parents and school employees. It's also exciting for community members, who have shown unwavering support for the growth and advancement of the district.
There is much to celebrate about Elyria Schools this year and in the coming years.
As we all know, however, the past year or two hasn't been without its challenges, given the unfortunate reality that COVID-19 has presented.
On a more positive note, this coming year is shaping up to be a little better—at least in the sense that we are returning completely to in-person learning, five days a week.
That means we've ended the virtual program that had been offered last year.
Keep in mind that Elyria's students, teachers, administrators and support staff learned a tremendous amount about the challenges and benefits of virtual learning these past 18 or so months—so if the need ever arises in the future, we have the capability and infrastructure in place to accommodate it.
As we return to in-person learning, there are some important things to keep top of mind.
No. 1: COVID-19 safety precautions will remain a priority in our daily happenings.
Custodians and maintenance staff will place utmost emphasis on sanitization of school buildings, adhering to the cleaning guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's strongly recommended that masks continue to be worn, but the school district will not mandate it at this time. The exception to this is for bus riders; masks are required on public transportation per the CDC.
Ohio health professionals are advising students and staff who are unvaccinated to wear masks in the classroom. We will continue closely monitoring COVID-19 developments in our community and revise our plans if necessary.
Leaders at Elyria Schools work closely with health officials at Lorain County Public Health, who have diligently kept the county's school districts apprised of all emerging developments and any changing guidelines pertaining to COVID safety.
A critical reminder: Students and staff should not come to school if they are showing ANY signs of illness, such as headache or fever, cough, sneezing, shortness of breath, stomachache, etc.
This cannot be overemphasized: Please do not come to school if you are feeling ill.
There's no question that COVID continues to present difficulties across the country, and in Elyria it is no different.
That being said, it's also important that the district's students resume their academic and extracurricular activities in-person, with as much normalcy as possible.
In the articles that follow you'll find the most recent school guidance issued by the CDC and the Ohio Health Department.
This will explain the processes that school officials will use when tracing contacts of a positive case in a classroom setting, how quarantining will be determined and the dynamics of the notification process that will follow.
Each article is embedded with links that directly connect to the most current guidance for the topics at hand. Please take time to follow these connections and read the information that was compiled by health professionals.
Finally, I would like to convey my sincerest thank you to the students, parents and staff members who have bravely weathered the many changes and challenges that COVID has presented since March 2020.
As a school district that cherishes community and its students, we will continue to march forward with great success.
Back to school 101
Tuesday, Sept. 7, is the first day of school for Elyria City School District—and it marks the exciting start of a new chapter for the district.
Students will return fully to in-person learning, Monday through Friday.
Last year the district opened three new school sites: Ely Elementary (grades K-4), Hamilton Elementary (grades PK-4) and Northwood Campus, which includes separate elementary (grades K-4) and middle school (grades 5-8) wings.
This fall, on Sept. 7, Eastern Heights Campus will open its doors to elementary, (grades K-4) and middle school (grades 5-8) students.
Westwood Campus will open later this year. In the meantime, Westwood Elementary students, grades K-4, will attend Westwood Elementary School at the former Crestwood Elementary school.
Westwood middle school students, grades 5-8, will attend the existing Westwood Middle School.
School day hours by grade level
- Preschool at Hamilton Elementary: 9:10 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
- Preschool at the Elyria Early Childhood Center: AM Class: 9:10 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.;
PM Class: 12:40 to 3:10 p.m.
- Elementary school grades K-4: 9:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
- Middle school, grades 5-8: 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
- Elyria High school, grades 9-12: 7:50 a.m. to 2:39 p.m.
An interactive map is available online for searching home addresses within the district's attendance areas. To use this tool simply type an address into the search bar and the mapping feature will do the rest!
Eastern Heights Campus Update:
The Eastern Heights Campus will open its doors to students on Sept. 7 but some areas of the exterior campus will still be under construction.
Crews are completing their paving work on parking areas and sidewalks.
As this work continues through September, students and families are asked to use caution when entering and exiting the facility. No visitor parking (with the exception of designated spaces for handicap parking) will be available at the start of the school year. This construction work is expected to wrap up in October.
Parents are urged to allow extra time for dropping off and picking up students, and to use neighboring side streets for temporary parking. Car pooling is recommended if possible.
When dropping students off or picking them up on campus, cars and buses will follow a specific one-way path in and out of the facility to ensure safety and to keep traffic flowing.
Please use patience and allow for hiccups as families navigate the paths in and out of the campus for the first few times.
As always, please be aware of students who are walking and riding their bikes to school and use extreme caution when approaching crosswalks and parking and walking areas in and around the campus.
The maps below illustrate the in/out pattern for car riders, busses and walkers when school resumes on September 7.
New Eastern Heights Comings and Goings
Car Rider One-Way Traffic In and Out
Cars enter at Prospect/Cornell, travel one way, exit at Garford or Prospect.
Student Walking Paths and Entrances
Students must use crosswalks walk to campus entrances.
Bus Traffic In and Out and Drop-offs
Buses enter and exit at Garford Ave. One way travel.
Student, staff and community safety is paramount as students return to in-person learning in traditional school settings.
The CDC urges students and staff who have not received the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine to wear masks.
At this time, a mask mandate has not been issued by the state or by local health authorities though they concur that masks will help slow the spread of COVID.
Elyria Schools strongly recommends the use of masks.
It will be difficult to socially distance in the school setting though we will pay close attention to seating arrangements in the classrooms and lunchrooms, and will space students out as much as possible.
As before, schools will emphasize good hand hygiene. School custodians and cleaners will continue attending to a detailed cleaning schedule with special emphasis on common areas and shared surfaces. The custodians adhere to the CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting schools.
Health officials continue touting the benefits of "layering" prevention strategies to slow the spread of illness.
These layers include vaccinations, masks if unvaccinated, hand washing, distancing when possible, attention to cleaning and ventilation, and most importantly, daily self wellness checks and staying home when sick.
COVID-19 and its variants are not the only illnesses impacting children and families.
It's important to take measures to prevent illness and keep current on vaccines.
The Ohio Department of Health recommends vaccinating children against vaccine-preventable diseases. The CDC provides resources for parents in tracking vaccination schedules for children under the age of 18.
Illness at school: What next?
These procedures closely mirror the process the district has followed since the start of the pandemic.
Elyria Schools employs five full-time nurses and several health aides that are integrally involved in the overall health and wellness work of the district, and certainly with COVID-19 protocols.
Classroom teachers are with students all throughout the day and are typically the first to notice symptoms of illness in the classroom. When that happens, students are assessed by the school nurse, health aide or school administrator and next steps are determined.
If school staff members are notified of a positive COVID-19 case within the school, the nurse and administrative team begin tracing any possible contacts in the classroom setting that may meet the CDC's definition of a "close contact."
Our school nurses and district administration will follow the Ohio Department of Health guidance for tracing classroom contacts and making decisions on quarantines. This process is detailed by ODH in a flowchart on the agency's website.
Please note in the ODH flowchart: students and staff who are vaccinated or wearing masks are less likely to be impacted by quarantines in a close contact situation.
School families will continue to be notified when a positive COVID-19 case happens their child's classroom or school. The ODH will continue to record cases in Ohio and publish the information by district on its website.
Prevention strategies are key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and that work begins at home.
Please monitor your family's health and wellness at home and do not attend school if any symptoms of illness are present.