Class of 2020 Virtual Town Hall

  • On April 30, Columbus City Schools held the first Virtual Senior Town Hall for students in the graduating Class of 2020. Representatives of the senior classes from several of our high schools had the opportunity to pose questions to Superintendent Dixon and other district experts - with topics ranging from changes in graduation requirements and college planning to the possibility of proms and graduation ceremonies.

    If you missed the Virtual Senior Town Hall, you can click here to watch a replay on the CCS YouTube Channel

    Below are the students’ questions and more detailed answers:
    (Spanish Translation)  (French Translation)  (Somali Translation)  (Nepali Translation)  (Arabic Translation)

    Question: “My question concerns graduation requirements. Could you tell us how the graduation requirements changed for the Class of 2020? And would it be possible for someone to resend this information out to all of the seniors and their families?” - Michelle Arhin, Beechcroft High School

    Changes to graduation requirements are temporary and apply only to students planning to graduate by September 30, 2020. Ohio’s Graduation Pathways requirements have been waived for 2020 graduates. Any remaining testing requirements that students may not have earned yet are being waived. This includes Ohio State Tests (end-of-course exams) and any other Additional Pathways criteria, such as WorkKeys, Ohio Means Jobs Readiness Seal, Industry Credentials, the 2.5 GPA for 11th/12th grades, and any other criteria students were attempting to earn in lieu of achieving the 18 requisite points on their seven end-of-course tests.

    At the same time, the Columbus Board of Education is rolling back the district’s graduation requirements to the state minimum. This requires a total of 20 credits (rather than 22) to graduate and eliminates the following the required Technology Course credit, Academic Elective Course credit, and the 120 internship hours/internship credit. It is important to note that students would need 4 electives (courses above and beyond the core requirements) rather than 3 to earn the 20 total credits to graduate. This change applies to the Class of 2020 as well as students in the Classes of 2018 and 2019 who still need to complete requirements. The District will reinstate the course graduation requirements for the Class of 2021 (those planning to graduate after 9/30/2020) and beyond.

    Question: “On the same line as graduation requirements here is a question that is on many seniors’ minds: a lot of us are working on their VCAP to meet the graduation requirements. What are the deadlines for VCAP, and who can a student call if they are having difficulty completing their VCAP?” - Samuel Frumkin, Whetstone High School

    Students having any VCAP challenges or questions can call 614-365-5485 from 8:00am-11:00am, Monday-Friday, or email VCAP@columbus.k12.oh.us (the same email to haver VCAP tests opened). Beginning Monday (5/4/20), content teachers will be available to support VCAP students from 10:00am- 2:00pm in the areas of English, Math, Science and Social Studies. Virtual tutoring will be available from 3:00pm-7:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For information about the support and tutoring opportunities, call the VCAP office at 614-365-5485 or email VCAP@columbus.k12.oh.us.

    Seniors who are failing a necessary course for graduation may still enroll in VCAP and must work with their school principals to do so. All VCAP work must be completed by May 18 for May 28-30 graduations. This allows time for grading and transcript verification. Students who have special circumstances approved by their principal may complete all VCAP no later than May 21.

    Question: “For those seniors who have worked so hard to earn an Honors Diploma, will they still be awarded one?” - Haley Briggs, Marion Franklin High School

    Yes. The requirements for the State Honors Diplomas, the CCS Diploma of Distinction, and CCS diploma certifications have not changed. Students earning the necessary criteria for any of these distinctions will be awarded these honors as well as any State Seals they have earned, including the Biliteracy and Ohio Means Jobs Readiness Seals. These distinctions will be displayed on their diplomas.

    Question: “Have there been any changes for students working on credentials or Work Keys?” - Haley Briggs, Marion Franklin High School

    Because of the state’s continued health restrictions, schools will not be able to reopen to offer WorkKeys or credential testing again this year. Students who have questions about credentials should reach out to Celeste Lewis, Director of Career Technical Education, at clewis2@columbus.k12.oh.us.

    Question: “If you received a Chromebook or mobile hotspot from the district, when do they need to be returned.” - question from social media

    Chromebooks and hotspots must be returned, but the District is allowing students to hold on to Chromebooks and hotspots for the summer, in case students are still working on needed graduation requirements, summer academic program, or pre-college coursework. Students will be contacted during the summer months on when to return the Chromebooks or hotspots.

    Question: “How will the 4th Quarter affect our overall GPA, and will it appear on our transcripts?” - Lashawn Samuel, West High School

    At this time, 4th Quarter grades of either ‘P’ or ‘I’ (Pass or Incomplete) will have no impact on graduating students’ GPAs or transcripts because final grades will be calculated using only grades from Quarters 1-3. Transcripts do not show quarter-by-quarter grades. 

    Although 4th Quarter grades will not impact seniors’ GPAs or ranks - nor be reflected on final transcripts - students who plan to participate in any post-secondary education should remain engaged in their learning. Taking a break in your studies could negatively impact your performance on college placement tests this summer and in fall coursework. We want you to begin college (whether on campus or online) set for success to earn that next degree.

    Question: “We appreciate the changes that the state made as a result of school closures regarding graduation requirements. With all of these changes, what’s the best way for a senior in the Class of 2020 to find out if they are o.k. to graduate?” - Diewo Camara, Columbus North International School

    Senior counselors have reviewed each senior's progress in light of these new graduation requirements and grading changes. Counselors and other senior team staff members are working to contact all seniors through webinars, virtual office hours, Google classrooms, emails, and other personal contacts. Please reach out to your senior counselor with any questions or concerns.

    Question: “Do we still need to pay Senior Fees or Graduation Fees?” - question from social media

    At this time, students still need to pay Graduation Fees ($70) until a final determination about graduation is made. Part of this fee covers the cost of the diploma jacket and the cap and gown. The District is currently looking for opportunities to reduce this fee for the Class of 2020, especially if the graduation ceremony is virtual. If you owe a fee for lost books or equipment, you will still need to pay those fees. If you have questions about other fees, you should contact your school principal.

    Question: “This normally would have been prom season, but the state says we still can’t have large gatherings of people. Is there any way for seniors to still enjoy prom?” - Isabella Gonzalez, Columbus North International School

    With the state’s continued limits on public gatherings, there is not a way to hold a traditional in-person prom. Several schools and local organizations are planning virtual proms, but we know those are not the same. Because a vaccine for COVID-19 is not expected for several months, it’s also unlikely we could postpone any proms until the summer without risking exposure for students. As our community recovers and the health concerns minimize, the District may look for opportunities to invite the Class of 2020 to celebrate in other non-traditional ways.

    Question: “As the state slowly lifts the stay-at-home order, will students have a chance to go back to the schools to clean out their lockers?” - Alecia Stallings, Columbus Africentric Early College

    Starting May 1, many of the restrictions put in place at the beginning of this pandemic will be slowly lifted. When the restrictions have been reduced enough to allow for people to return to school buildings, the District will develop an orderly plan to give students and staff an opportunity to go into the buildings at designated times. It could be in late-May or early-June, depending on state and local guidance.

    Question: “After 13 years of school, we feel like we deserve to celebrate our graduation, but this crisis has taken it away from us. How is the district planning for graduation?” - Ajanay Rogers, Mifflin High School

    The Class of 2020 will have a graduation, but it will not be a traditional graduation ceremony. The state has made several different recommendations on how to safely offer a graduation for students and families, and the District is exploring several options. Several community partners have offered to assist in the planning. Right now, nothing has been determined.

    Question: “Will we still get our caps and gowns? What about our diplomas?” - question from social media

    Yes. Part of celebrating graduation is having a cap and gown that you can treasure for years to come. Columbus City Schools is working with companies who traditionally supply the District’s cap and gown - and the diploma covers - but many of those companies have been closed during the pandemic. As those companies reopen and begin filling orders, the District will develop a plan for graduating seniors to pick up their diploma covers, caps, and gowns. Final printed diplomas may be mailed or available for pick up at a later date.   

    Question: “A lot of us are planning for college in the fall, but many universities have changed how they operate, like closing the dorms and having all the classes online. What should we be ready for? Should we still pay housing fees by the college deadline?” - Ajanay Rogers, Mifflin High School

    At this point in time, students and families should plan for a variety of situations. Colleges and universities have not made final decisions regarding how campuses will operate in the fall. This certainly is not ideal for planning purposes, but a range of scenarios could happen - from campuses being fully opened and operational to institutions opting to hold all classes in a virtual setting online. Most schools hope to have a better idea of what the fall will look like by early summer.

    Here are a few things students and families should do to plan:

    • Students need to check their college email account on a regular basis for updates from their schools. This will be the main way schools communicate any plans and steps students may need to take.
    • For any housing plans or deposits, procedures will vary by institution. Students and families should contact their school's housing or residence life office for information that is specific to their school.
    • If classes are held remotely in a virtual environment for the fall, students should make sure they have access to the technology that may be needed (computers, internet, Wifi hotspots, etc.). Some schools may have resources available for students who are in need.
    • If classes are held in a virtual environment, students should prepare themselves to learn in an online environment, which can be quite different from a traditional classroom setting.

    Question: “We hear that some colleges have adjusted their admissions requirements because of this crisis. If there are seniors who are still looking to go to college, what would you tell them and their families?” Faith Bondurant, Eastmoor Academy

    Contact the Admissions Offices at the schools you have an interest in for any changes or updates to the admissions process. Some schools have made changes for this year's incoming class. Click here for a tool that tracks changes to admission procedures for a number of colleges. Currently, 53 of Ohio’s colleges and universities are represented on this site. Some of the changes and updates include virtual events, HS transcript submissions, reply/enrollment deposit deadlines, and plans for 2020. Roughly half of the colleges represented on that site have pushed their reply/enrollment deposit deadline back. That’s more reason to keep checking the NACAC website, the college websites, or the admissions offices.

    Question: “Lots of people are wearing masks these days to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Is that enough to keep us safe? When will this pandemic really end?” - Dolanda Chanthasene, South High School

    COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets; it is NOT airborne. This means it travels in coughs, sneezes, or even if people spit when they talk. Face masks do not really protect YOU from getting COVID-19, but because so many people can have COVID-19 and not have symptoms (or the symptoms haven’t shown up yet), they can pass it on to others without even knowing it. A mask is to keep YOU from spreading your own respiratory droplets, in case you have it. So if everyone wears masks AND stays 6 feet away from others AND washes their hands for 20 seconds after touching things AND cleans surfaces regularly AND does not get together with others in large groups, THEN we can decrease the number of people who are exposed to the virus and decrease the number of people who get it.

    The COVID-19 pandemic will end when most people (about 80-90%) have immunity from the virus. This means either they have had it, recovered, and have antibodies to kill the virus if it gets in their body again, OR they get a vaccine for the virus and have antibodies developed from the vaccine to kill the virus if it gets in their body again. A vaccine could be a year to 18 months away from being ready.

    If you would like to ask questions, please feel free to email the Columbus City Schools Department of Engagement at engage@columbus.k12.oh.us.