Picture shows minimal social distancing at a Willoughby-Eastlake high school


EASTLAKE, Ohio (WJW) – The first day of school is sparking concerns about safety and social distancing at North High School part of Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools.

The district superintendent responded to a Fox 8 viewer photo showing minimal social distancing of masked students during what he describes as a 50-minute study hall.

“It’s Day One and of course it’s not perfect, but I would say we’re doing the best that we can,” says superintendent Steve Thompson.

WJW photo

He says staffing adjustments will be made as needed. Earlier this month Thompson stated their goal was to have at least a 3-foot distance between students.

“I was very clear that returning to school would mean we would not always be able to accomplish the goal of maintaining six feet of distancing, buildings simply were not built to do that,” he says.

Parent Tanisha Pickens says she decided to make the switch from homeschooling her children in 7th and 5th grade to enrolling in the district for in-person instruction over the summer break. Monday, she expressed frustration over class sizes and social distancing.

“They’re not safe as much as they should be,” Pickens says. “…I feel like I should be given further reassurance that my kid is going to be okay and return home safe and healthy.”

Students arrived to the high school this morning wearing masks, and Thompson said that 70 percent of the district’s about-8,400 students chose to return for in-person learning.

“I would be remiss not to say there isn’t a risk in returning to school,” he says. “We’re going to monitor it very closely.”

The school board is meeting tonight to discuss a potential change in policy that would allow for coronavirus testing of students.

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