District school buildings closed for two weeks

YOUNGSTOWN — School district CEO Justin Jennings is expected to announce that all city school buildings and district offices will be closed beginning Friday for at least two weeks due to the continued spread of COVID-19 across Ohio.

“My goal is for all to be safe,” he said. “COVID is spreading quickly in our state, county and the city.”

Although Youngstown school buildings will be closed, Jennings said the district will continue its online remote learning program.

“Teaching and learning will not stop; we are just doing it from your residence,” Jennings told district employees in an email.

The school district’s announcement came on the same day that Gov. Mike DeWine made a prime-time speech imploring residents to reduce the chance of spread of the virus by reducing interactions outside of family bubbles.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 5,874 new virus cases on Wednesday and 76 deaths, more than three times the three-week daily average. New hospitalizations dropped from a record 386 on Tuesday, but remained well above average.

Hospitalizations totaled 253 on Wednesday, increasing the number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized to a record 2,880.

DeWine said bars, restaurants and fitness centers could be ordered closed Nov. 19 if the current trend continues and cases keep increasing.

DeWine, during his presentation, said it would be better if schools remain open with students in the buildings.

“I received a letter from a local school superintendent, who was concerned about community spread,” DeWine said. “She said, and I quote, ‘that people don’t seem to understand that while COVID-19 exposures are occurring outside of the school setting, they are having a profound effect on keeping our schools open.’ The simple truth, your local school will not be able to stay open if it can’t keep teachers in the classroom and bus drivers on the road.”

Jennings’ email noted that teachers / aides, coaches, youth advocates and employees have been asked to gather the things they need for the next two weeks of instruction.

Maintenance personnel will work today. However, they will not return until called. Food service will be shut down during this period.

Bus drivers and other transportation employees will continue to work, because they are needed to transport those students originally assigned to Youngstown, but now attend other public, private and parochial school districts.

Other employee work schedules will be determined by their supervisors.

Employees are being asked to refrain from making house visits, unless it is a safety or wellness check.

The health center hours will be the same, open to staff and students by appointment only.

Jennings requested employees and residents to wear their masks and follow all safety protocols.

More information is expected to be released during the CEO’s monthly meeting at noon today.


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