Online learning numbers vary across county

MIAMI COUNTY — Each school district in Miami County is offering remote learning options to students K-12 for the fall semester — and if the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom — quite possibly the rest of the school year.

Troy City School registered 22 percent of its students in its online Troy Virtual Academy, followed by Piqua City Schools with around 21 percent. Milton-Union followed with 18 percent and Tipp City Schools with 14 percent of students going online this semester. Smaller districts like Covington, Miami East, and Newton had around 9 percent of students opting for online learning. The highest and the lowest number of students per grade are included with each district below. A distinct pattern county-wide was not detected although numbers dropped significantly in the upper levels of high school for online learning for nearly all districts that participated.

Miami County Education Service Center Superintendent David Larson said all districts — except Troy City Schools and upper-level classes of Piqua City Schools — will have their students access to distance learning through Miami County ESC’s partnership with Montgomery County’s StudentPLP online system for the year. The partnership with Montgomery County ESC lowers the price, which will be passed on to to each district. Superintendents cautioned parents that the remote learning option would be more vigorous than what was able to be offered abruptly last spring when Gov. Mike DeWine closed school indefinitely in mid-March.

“Whatever we do this fall will be better than what we had to do last spring,” Larson said.

“We had a lot of questions about the remote learning options for sure and we had more people ask about home schooling this year,” Larson said. “There were definitely parents who were looking at all options for their children.” Home school numbers were not available from the ESC at this time.

Larson said some parents shared their reasons for exploring an alternative to classroom instruction, ranging from their children and home health safety, as well as mask wearing in class. See an upcomingedition of Miami Valley Today in an article where parents shared why they opted for online learning instead of the traditional classroom environment.

“It’s been interesting the reasoning for looking at different options — they varied widely,” he said. “It hasn’t been just one issue of safety or a high-risk individual at home — they’ve all been different.”

Larson said Miami County schools have been spending a lot of time learning their own online platforms in case schools close in the future. Larson said superintendents collaborated with the health departments and with one another to shape what this school year would look like to students, staff, and their communities.

Larson said Miami County Public Health officials worked with district leaders all summer to get children back in the classroom safely and effectively. Larson said MCPH officials were committed to problem solve and assist school leaders to get their buildings ready before their doors opened this fall.

“They know kids need school and were committed to helping us,” he said.

The following numbers are approximate estimates submitted by the school districts. Some districts were still finalizing numbers for enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year.

• Troy City Schools had 931 students opt for its virtual learning option through its Troy Online Academy — around 22 percent of enrollment. The highest number of students enrolled was second grade with 94, followed by kindergarten with 92. The lowest number of students were seniors with 34 followed by the junior class with 45. Troy City Schools has 4,184 students, not including the Upper Valley Career Center students, for the 2020-2021 school year.

• Piqua City Schools will have 705 students enrolled in its online learning system — or roughly 21 percent of total enrollment.

PCS anticipates 3,330 students once kindergarten enrollment is complete. The school district had 3,344 students last year.

The district had the most online students in the sixth grade with 70, then third grade registering 68 students followed by fifth grade and sophomore year students with 66 students each. The least amount of students opting for online learning at PCS were in kindergarten and senior years with 44 students each.

• St. Patrick Catholic School has one sixth grade student and seven younger students who will be provided weekly packets to complete at home, according to Principal Cyndi Cathcart.

• Tipp City Schools have 320 students opting for virtual learning — approximately 14 percent of its enrollment. Fifth grade had the highest number of students with 38 and junior year in high school had the lowest with 11. Kindergarten had 29 students and senior year had 16. Tipp City Schools has approximately 2,585 students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year. Last year, the district had 2,496 students enrolled — an increase in 89 students for this year.

• Covington Exempted Village Schools has 73 students enroll in virtual classes — approximately 9 percent of its enrollment. The highest number of students enrolled was 10 in second grade and 10 in fifth grade. The lowest was recorded with zero juniors and two freshmen opted for online learning at home.

The district had 832 students in 2019-2020 and has 809 for the upcoming school year.

• Miami East Local Schools has 126 students opt for the remote learning option — approximately 9 percent of total enrollment. First grade had the most students with 16 followed by fourth grade with 15. The senior class had one student opt for online followed by six second-grade students for the lowest number per class. Miami East Local Schools had 1,351 students enrolled for the current year, 10 more than last year.

• Newton Local School had 58 students enroll in online learning — approximately 9 percent of total enrollment. According to Superintendent Pat McBride, a range of seven down to two students per grade level chose the online option. McBride said 84 students enrolled in home school last year and around a dozen more in addition to that number will likely opt for home school this year.

The district has approximately 634 students, up five from last year.

• Milton-Union Local Schools has approximately 255 students opting for online learning for the year — approximately 18 percent of students. The district has approximately 1,432 students in its district. Fourth grade had the highest number of students to opt for online with 29, followed by third grade with 28, the second grade with 27, and sixth grade with 26 students. The least amount of students opting for online is junior and senior classes each with nine per grade level.