Penta off hybrid, will go to four days per week

By Marie Thomas-Baird -

PERRYSBURG – Penta Career Center students will return to classes four days a week starting Tuesday.

The board unanimously made that decision at Wednesday’s meeting, after Superintendent Ed Ewers explained how the number of coronavirus cases in the school has dropped.

Ewers said he weighed all the factors, including the vaccine given to teachers, the number of cases among students and the reduced social distancing restrictions.

As of Wednesday, nine students and three staff members were in quarantine

At one point, more than 800 students were being sent home to quarantine, of which only four tested positive for the virus, meaning 99.55% of those students sent home tested negative, Ewers said.

Some students including those with health concerns have spoken out against returning from the hybrid model that has been in place since November.

“They would prefer to stay on schedule two because that provides a more comforting environment to try to deal with some of those things,” Ewers said.

Seventy-four percent of instructional staff have been vaccinated.

After weighing all available information, Ewers said he was at a point where he was comfortable asking for a motion from the board to proceed.

“I believe it’s in our best interest to have students return to our campus … four days a week,” Ewers said.

Mondays will continue to be a virtual day and when students can conduct work-based learning off campus.

Penta began the school year in August on a hybrid schedule then changed to its normal four-day-a-week schedule on Sept. 29.

A change back to hybrid was made Nov. 10,

“We’ve all had the goal of trying to get the kids back in as many days as possible,” said board member Eric Benington.

“I think it’s time,” agreed board member William Green.

Ewers said he doesn’t foresee Penta returning to five full days of classes.

Full implementation of the work-based learning option will happen in the fall. This option allows students to do community service, apprenticeships and paid employment on Mondays.

Penta also has recorded an uptick in the number of students interested in taking career-technical education.

High school Director Ryan Lee reported that enrollment has gone up since his previous report in December.

For the junior/senior program, enrollment has increased from 301 on Dec. 18 to 580 on March 9.

Sophomores interested in the school went from 224 in December to 293 earlier this month.

“We’ve seen a nice increase over the last several months,” Lee said. “That’s been a nice steady increase and we hope that that continues for the next several months.”

By Marie Thomas-Baird