May 16, 2022 - News

Pickerington weighs online classes for crowded schools

A laptop with a shrugging emoji on the screen

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pickerington junior high students could take some classes online all next school year, but not to curb COVID-19.

  • The goal is now to prevent overcrowding — the suburban district lacks space to accommodate a burgeoning student population, officials said at a recent school board meeting.

Why it matters: Though polarizing, online classes were normalized during the pandemic. Now schools are becoming more likely to pivot to virtual learning for other reasons.

  • Columbus shifted online for a few days in August due to sweltering temperatures in buildings without air conditioning.
  • Several other districts also went online temporarily to address staffing shortages.

The latest: A study anticipates a 32% increase in enrollment at Pickerington's two junior highs over eight years, but the buildings are already near capacity.

  • The schools would be on a hybrid schedule under the district's proposal, with students divided into cohorts attending in-person and online classes on specific days.

Flashback: Pickerington voters rejected tax increases to build a new junior high school in 2020 and 2021.

  • Some unhappy parents feel they're being punished into voting for tax increases, per ThisWeek News.

What's next: A schedule discussion is happening tonight and a decision is expected this month.

  • Board members also began the process last week to place another bond issue on November's ballot.

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