Walnut Township Local Schools Current Level 

Yellow - Hybrid Status

Status updated on 11/26/2020 at 10:09 a.m.

Update from the Superintendent

Walnut Township Local Schools Community,

Model Update

The COVID-19 infections are dramatically increasing at the state, county and local level. I have been reviewing student attendance, staff attendance, confirmed cases in Fairfield County (and surrounding counties), hospital capacity and the number of students/staff we have in quarantine. As of right now, we have over 26% of our students in quarantine for 14 or more days due to exposure to a person testing positive for COVID-19 at home or in social settings outside of school. We also have 4 staff members that have a member of their household that has had direct exposure and are at risk of being placed into quarantine. I am alarmed by the dramatic increase in quarantined students and staff over the last 24 to 48 hours that are at risk for infection. 

I consulted with the Fairfield Department of Health, my administrative team and medical professionals in determining that remaining fully open for all students every day is a significant risk that puts the health of our students and staff in jeopardy due to the limited amount of social distancing that is able to be maintained throughout the day. 

Beginning Monday, November 30, 2020, WTLSD will transition to our hybrid/blended learning model for all students. We will have our purple group Monday/Tuesday, gold group Thursday/Friday and Wednesday will be remote learning for all students and deep cleaning our facilities for safety. At this time, I intend to remain on the hybrid/blended schedule through the end of the first semester on Friday, January 15 (which is 14 days after Christmas break). I will notify our community in mid-January of any change to our model that will take place on January 19 and beyond. 

I want to be clear, the hybrid/blended learning model ensures we are able to practice a much greater deal of social distancing than we can achieve when all students are in attendance which will dramatically reduce the amount of exposure between students and staff.

Athletic Competitions

In consultation with the Fairfield Department of Health, the athletic director and several coaches, I want to ensure you know I am committed to supporting our students to have the opportunity to compete in basketball. We have weighed the risks of league vs. non-league competitions for our student athletes and the non-league competitions are a risk that is unnecessary to take. Beginning Monday, November 23, 2020, the girls/boys varsity, junior varsity and junior high basketball programs will only compete in league competition. 

The OHSAA guidelines significantly limit the number of spectators we are permitted to allow in our facilities (15% of the capacity). Mr. Spindler has created a voucher system that we will use through the week of November 23. The vouchers are provided to the players directly so that family members are able to attend. In order for a spectator to gain access, you will be required to have a voucher. After next week, the district will transition to Hometown Ticketing where all tickets will be bought online. This will dramatically reduce the risk of exposure at the gate and will support our responsibility to contact trace our events, if needed. We will begin conducting Live Streams to YouTube tomorrow, Saturday, November 21 so that we are able to allow our community to continue to watch our teams compete if they are not able to gain entry. The link will be posted on the district website for tomorrow’s basketball scrimmage (which is entirely closed to spectators).

I would like to wish our Walnut Township families a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.

In service to children,

Kirby Signature

Food Service Update: Free Meal Extension

October 20, 2020

Laker Families,

The US Department of Agriculture has announced that ALL students enrolled at Walnut Township Local Schools will receive FREE Breakfast and FREE Lunch regardless of income status through the entire 2020-2021 school year.

On October 9, 2020, the USDA extended no cost meals to all children through the entire 2020-2021 school year. This benefit has been made possible through the US Department of Agriculture Waiver. As a result, ALL students enrolled at Walnut Township Local Schools, regardless of income status, will receive one FREE breakfast and one FREE lunch daily.

Laker Virtual Academy students can sign up to pick up their breakfast and lunches on the district website at www.walnuttsd.org.

Students will still need to purchase ala carte items. Families will still need to complete free and reduced meal application paperwork to be eligible for 2021-2022 carryover benefits after waiver ends and for instruction fee waiver. Please contact Karen Reedy at kreedy@walnuttsd.org or by calling 740-467-1144 with any questions. 

Laker Virtual Academy Students - Meal Sign up

WTLS Update

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Good Afternoon Walnut Township Local School’s Community,

I know the hybrid instructional model that the district has been engaged in since our first student day on August 25 has not been easy for many families we serve. I am very aware of many of your concerns related to hybrid learning and the desire to return to a fully reopened educational experience for students as quickly as possible. The staff of the district, including myself, are laser focused on how to ensure we are able to safely reopen school fully while ensuring we are maintaining the health, safety and welfare of students and staff.

I would like to thank all of you for your continued support as we continue to be as flexible as we can be to serve our students. The way our community members have come together to support each other and our young people makes be even more proud to be leading the district.

The district has been fortunate enough that we have ZERO students testing positive for COVID19, ZERO staff members testing positive for COVID-19 as of today, September 15. I have been reviewing county level data, data by zip code of our local zip code and those around Millersport, trend data for our area as well as observing mask compliance among students and staff, and reviewing enrollment for each instructional period in grades K-12 and simulating what a full reopening would look like in each classroom and each instructional period.

I have determined that our district is able to reopen fully for those students attending face-to-face school five days per week beginning Tuesday, September 29. Purple Gold day students will all report to school beginning on Tuesday, September 29. Laker Virtual Academy students will continue to engage in school remotely.

In my observations over the past week, I have found that most of our classrooms are able to withstand a full reopening with all students while maintaining some social distancing based on class enrollment. We have a handful of classrooms that raise concerns among myself and the building leadership. In order to address the concerns, we have observed in spacing, the building principal’s will be working with our custodial and maintenance staff to address those specific issues and ensure that we have desks and tables moved to locations where they are needed. In some situations, the district will need to relocate an entire classroom for the safety of students and staff to larger areas to maximize social distancing.

As many around me know, I do not take this decision lightly and have spent a great deal of time speaking with many of my staff members, health professionals internally and externally and reviewed a significant amount of data to make the most informed decision for our students, staff and community. I must reiterate that things change very quickly with this virus and between today and Tuesday, September 29, the data that I have used to make my decision may change which would force me to decide to stay hybrid longer. I want to make sure each and every one of you are aware that as the circumstances change daily, the district may need to adjust as well. I am committed to giving our staff, students and families we serve as much notice of changes to our schedule as possible to assist in making arrangements for childcare. During a full reopening, we may have to switch back to hybrid or fully remote learning if the data indicates it is what is in the best interest of our students and staff with little to no notice. I cannot emphasize enough to be sure you have your plans in place for hybrid learning and full remote learning if the situation merits moving back to one of these two models.

In making this transition, the district is asking the community we serve to support us in keeping our schools fully reopened by doing the following: Tuesday, September 15, 2020

1. Check your students at home for the following symptoms:

a. Fever of 100 degrees or higher

b. Chills

c. Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

d. Fatigue

e. Muscle or body aches

f. Headaches

g. New loss of taste or smell

h. Sore throat

i. Congestion or runny nose

j. Nausea or vomiting

k. Diarrhea

l. Cough

2. DO NOT SEND your student to school with the above symptoms as we will need to send them back home.

3. Wearing masks

4. Washing hands or using hand sanitizer when you are not able to wash your hands

5. Avoid others that are sick

6. Limit gatherings

If we all continue to take the steps I mentioned, the district will be able to keep serving students face-to-face in a full reopen or in a hybrid format.

I want to reiterate that local data over the coming 13 days will impact whether or not the district will be able to fully reopen on September 29.

Thank you for your continued support,

Will Kirby


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