LOGAN — The Logan-Hocking School District (LHSD) has three goals going into the 2021-2022 school year, Superintendent Monte Bainter told The Logan Daily News: learning, growth and connectivity.

Classes begin Thursday for grades one through five, seven, nine and 12; a staggered entry as the district does each year, Bainter said. By next Tuesday, Aug. 24, all students will be back to classes.

Bainter has had a busy summer prepping for the school year, given the circumstances; the past 16–18 months in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic have shown how important being in school is, as well as how important community is, he explained.

According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), “students benefit cognitively, emotionally and developmentally from in-person learning.”

“It’s very important for our kids and our community to be connected to something, whether scouting, 4H, little league, rec league, athletics, arts, children’s choirs — it’s important to be connected to that — (that we’re) making sure kids have opportunities to participate in things, and make sure we’re growing kids,” Bainter said.

The district is operating, in effect, “back to normal” this year, Bainter said. However, the district is recommending the use of masks, which are also required on school buses because they are considered public transit, per the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bainter said.

As far as COVID goes, LHSD is operating on a tier system, Bainter explained. It is opening in Tier 1, meaning that “LHSD strongly encourages that anyone not vaccinated or those with a pre-existing health condition wear a mask at all times while at school,” Bainter said in a district email.

Tier 2 means “students will wear a mask anytime they are not in their assigned seat per seating chart;” Tier 3, “Students and staff wear a mask while indoors;” and Tier 4, remote learning.

“If cases keep rising and things start happening in buildings where a lot are quarantined, we’ll go to (the) next tier,” Bainter said.

According to ODH COVID-19 data, there are over 1 million cases of the virus in Ohio; 2,303 in Hocking County as of Aug. 15. Last week, the CDC labeled a county of ‘high incidence’ community spread, The Logan Daily News previously reported. As of Aug. 15, the county has a vaccination rate of 39.56%, compared to the state’s of 50.64%.

Bainter said this year’s summer school sessions used those masking regulations effectively, and that ultimately, in Tier 1, masking is the choice of the parents. Bainter said that above all else, the district’s goal is to keep kids in school.

In terms of other news for the upcoming school year, LHSD students will also finally get to make use of the ever-improving downtown Logan Theater and Community Arts Center, something Bainter has publicly expressed his excitement for in previous months.

Students in LHSD’s digital Chieftain Academy will use the second floor of the theater for required in-person or “face time” hours; and likely following the Hocking County Fair, students in LHSD aftercare programming will use the space, too.

Bainter said regardless of COVID, each year when August rolls around, LHSD staff look forward to the school year.

More information and a district calendar can be found on the district’s website at loganhocking.k12.oh.us/.

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