Blended Learning Guidance

Definition and Requirements

Blended learning is the delivery of instruction using a combination of time in the school building (50% or more) and online and noncomputer-based learning opportunities. Since 2012, Ohio schools have been able to provide instruction using a blended learning model. District-operated schools and chartered nonpublic schools using one or more blended learning models must comply with requirements in the Operating Standards for School and Districts (OAC 3301-35-03), and community schools must comply with provisions included in the sponsor-school contract (ORC 3314.03). State statute requires that schools provide notice to the Ohio Department of Education of starting or ceasing to use blended learning no later than July 1 prior to the school year (ORC 3302.41).

Blended Learning and Flexibilities During the Pandemic

Prior to March of 2020, few Ohio schools used blended learning.

The onset of the pandemic rapidly changed educational approaches and schools requested flexibility with how instruction was delivered to ensure both safety and continued learning. Emergency legislation passed prior to the 2020-2021 school year authorized schools and districts to adopt remote learning plans. With the continued impact of the pandemic, remote learning plans were extended to include the 2021-2022 school year. Legislation also waived the July 1 notification deadline for beginning or ceasing blended learning during the 2021-2022 school year but did not eliminate requirements under the Operating Standards or sponsor-community school contracts.

Unlike blended learning, schools and districts using a remote learning plan had the flexibility to use a wide variety of instructional delivery methods on an as-needed basis. Remote learning and blended learning are not the same thing. Remote learning was able to be used in a contingent manner. Remote learning also did not require the use of online delivery. The ability for schools and districts to utilize a remote learning model expired on June 30, 2022.

While the option to adopt and implement a remote learning plan has expired, Ohio schools still have other educational delivery models to offer their students, including blended learning.

Use of Blended Learning During 2022-2023 and Beyond

Any local, city, exempted village or joint vocational school district, community school, STEM school or chartered nonpublic school may utilize a blended learning model. Use of a blended learning model(s) must be part of an overall plan to provide instruction throughout the entire school year. Blended learning is not to be used on an emergency or contingent basis including but not limited to the following reasons:
  • Temporary closure due to disease or sickness;
  • Weather-related closures;
  • Parent-teacher conferences, teacher workdays or other professional development;
  • Staffing shortages.
Schools and districts are advised to adopt a school calendar that includes enough hours to meet annual minimum school year requirements even if circumstances require periodic school closure. If necessary, additional time can be added to individual school days to ensure minimum school year requirements are met.

Planning for Blended Learning

Be prepared to plan well in advance and adopt policies that address the following questions:
  1. Are you planning to use one or more student-centered blended learning models? How does the model(s) selected personalize learning? How will each student’s learning goals be developed and communicated?
  2. Is the online curriculum high quality and support a competency-based instructional model? Who reviewed the curriculum?
  3. How will you use assessment to monitor student progress on an ongoing basis? How will your blended learning model allow students to advance through the curriculum based on demonstrated competency?
  4. Do the number of teachers meet required ratios in the operating standards?
  5. What type of professional development will school staff have prior to implementation? Do instructional staff have appropriate training in the pedagogy for effective delivery of online or digital instruction? How will instructional staff be supported throughout the process?
  6. Have you ensured that every participating student has access to all necessary digital learning tools (tablets, Chromebooks, etc.) and reliable internet service?
  7. Is the required filtering device or filtering software that protects against internet access to materials that are obscene or harmful in place on each device provided to a student?

Districts and chartered nonpublic schools must address all the above items in policies and procedures adopted by the school district board of education or a chartered nonpublic school’s governing board.

Additional Resources

Last Modified: 2/8/2024 4:45:14 PM