Concern for student safety and advances in learning dominated 2020 for the Orange City School District.

With school buildings abruptly closed statewide by the governor in the spring of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, districts including Orange were faced with the difficult decision of when it was safe to go back to classrooms. Orange opted to remain in a fully remote learning model for most of the fall semester.

Orange officials developed a remote model and a hybrid model, but only implemented the optional hybrid model for three weeks in November. The Orange Board of Education and Superintendent Lynn Campbell consistently met to discuss COVID-19 updates, polish the learning models and address concerns raised by students, teachers and parents.

In the fall of 2020, a group of parents protested outside the administration building on Chagrin Boulevard several times to demand that Dr. Campbell open the schools. Surrounding districts, including Mayfield, Beachwood, Solon and Chagrin Falls had their students back in the buildings during the fall, which frustrated some Orange parents. The district will be resuming the hybrid model on Jan. 11, a week earlier than originally planned.

Orange Community Education and Recreation had a 0.95-mill renewal levy on the March 2020 ballot. The primary was delayed through April 28 and was mostly a mail-in voting election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recreation levy was approved by voters.

Prior to the pandemic, the school board had discussions about renovating the front entrance and locker rooms at Orange High School. Dr. Campbell put the project on hold when the coronavirus hit but urged the board to consider the safety upgrades in the near future.

Dr. Campbell in early 2020 discovered that 22 residences on North Point Drive in Pepper Pike were in the Beachwood City School District, even though seven children were enrolled at Orange. One family sued after the Orange Board of Education refused to approve an agreement that would have allowed the children to stay in the Orange district until they graduate without paying tuition. Then there was a tentative agreement between the family and the Orange board allowing the children to stay in the Orange district through the end of the 2020-2021 school year giving families time to pursue a territory transfer for all 22 houses on their street through the Ohio Board of Education.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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