CCS Reopening Plan

  • CCS Reopening

    June 30, 2020 -- Columbus City Schools Superintendent/CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon and the Reopening Task Force presented recommendations on how best to safely reopen the District’s school buildings this fall during the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, June 30.

    First and foremost, the reopening recommendations adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from local, state, and federal health officials while also providing equitable academic opportunities for all students.

    Superintendent Dixon’s recommendations are based on the intensive work of the Reopening Task Force she appointed in May to analyze and discuss all possible scenarios to safely reopen schools. The Task Force was comprised of more than 150 staff members across various district departments, teachers, and community partners. 

    Dr. Dixon and the Task Force are in continual discussions with health experts regarding the status of the COVID-19 pandemic within Columbus and our district boundaries. Updated COVID-19 information and changing guidance from state health and education department officials necessitate operational flexibility, and therefore Dr. Dixon indicated that CCS families should anticipate changes to the reopening plan. 

    It is important for CCS families to know that the  Superintendent’s reopening recommendations may change based on a number of factors including:

    • Changing health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH);
    • Updated guidance from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), Governor Mike DeWine, or the Ohio state legislature;
    • Agreements with the District’s labor union partners;
    • Resources available and feasibility of safely reopening schools while balancing health and safety guidelines, especially when transporting students to and from school.

    District families, students, and staff can expect to receive more information this summer as it becomes available. Columbus City Schools is committed to making the best decisions that balance the need to provide meaningful instruction to students with the need to protect the health and safety of our staff, students, and community. 

    JUNE 30, 2020, RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS 

    Teaching and Learning Formats

    Students in Kindergarten through eighth grade will attend school using a blended learning model that combines two days of in-person instruction at school with three days of online instruction at home.  

    Early childhood, or Pre-K, students will also use this blended model based on each child’s individual needs.

    Students from the same family/household will attend in-person classes on the same days.

    High school students (9-12 grades) will attend school remotely full-time from home for at least the first two quarters of the school year. High school students can choose between two online formats, one using the standard CCS curriculum with instruction by CCS teachers and the other a self-paced curriculum through the new CCS Digital Academy. More information on these remote formats is below.

    Grades K-8:

    Grades 9-12:

    • Full-time remote learning at home for at least the first two quarters
      • Option #1: CCS online curriculum - pacing and instruction provided by CCS teachers
      • Option #2: Digital Academy - self-paced Apex Learning online curriculum with CCS teacher supervision
    • Future consideration for blended learning options will be given in accordance with new health and safety guidelines and feasibility.

    Early Childhood/Pre-K:

    • Full Day Classrooms - 2 days of in-person learning at school and 3 days of remote learning at home
    • Half Day Classrooms - 4 days of in-person learning at school with option for virtual learning at home on the fifth day
    • Additional considerations for students with special needs

    Specific Student Populations

    • Additional consideration will be given to those students with special needs, who are English Language Learners, or who are in programs that may require more in-person instruction such as career and technical education, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced Placement.

    Teachers and School-Based Staff

    • Classroom teachers and school-based staff will provide in-person instruction and supports for PreK-8 students on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week.
    • Teachers and school-based staff will provide student support services such as interventions and tutoring on Wednesdays. Teachers and staff could also participate in professional development opportunities on these days.

    CCS Digital Academy (K-12)

    Columbus City Schools families who may not want to send their students to school in-person can choose to have their students attend the all-virtual K-12 Digital Academy. 

    This completely-remote learning option goes above and beyond the virtual learning curriculum that CCS students and families experienced while schools were closed this past spring. The curriculum will be self-paced so students can go as quickly or as slow as they need to complete the work to earn credits. CCS staff will work with families to create personalized learning experiences for Digital Academy students.

    Student attendance and idle time will be tracked through the district-selected platforms. The Digital Academy will use Edgenuity for K-8 students and Apex for high school students. The Apex learning platform is compliant with interscholastic athletic eligibility and NCAA requirements.

    There is no all-virtual option for early childhood/Pre-K students. 

    Remote Learning Options for High School Students

    High school students can choose between the self-paced Digital Academy and the standard CCS online curriculum. The Digital Academy will have CCS staff supervision but is not teacher-directed. The Digital Academy will rely on students to go at their own pace to complete the work. 

    In comparison, the CCS online learning option will be facilitated by CCS teachers who will provide pacing and instruction on the District’s standard curriculum.

    Both options allow students to maintain athletic eligibility and earn course credits that meet college or post-secondary requirements.

    High School Virtual Learning Options

    CCS Digital Academy

    Remote High School Learning

    • Newly adopted self-paced online platform
      • Apex Learning
      • OHSAA and NCAA compliant
      • Course credits meet college and post-secondary requirements
    • Incremental lessons on specific content
    • Students responsible for participation in self-paced learning
    • Student attendance tracked
    • Register July 13 - August 1
    • Newly adopted curriculum with digital and print resources
      • OHSAA and NCAA compliant
      • Course credits meet college and post-secondary requirements
    • Specific daily delivery of content by teacher using technology for engagement
    • Students responsible for participation in teacher lessons and completing assignments
    • Student attendance tracked
    • Automatically enrolled in student’s current high school

     

    K-8 Blended and Virtual Learning Options

    CCS Digital Academy

    Blended Learning

    • Newly adopted self-paced online platform
      • Edgenuity
      • Course credits meet all requirements
    • Incremental lessons on specific content
    • Students responsible for participation in self-paced learning
    • Student attendance tracked
    • Register July 13 - August 1
    • Newly adopted curriculum resources with digital and print resources
    • Specific daily delivery of content in face-to-face setting by teacher
    • Assignments to extend learning during remote days
    • Students responsible for attending on group days and completing assigned work on remote days
    • Automatically enrolled in student’s current elementary or middle school

     

    Digital Academy Registration

    Registration for the CCS Digital Academy will open on July 13 and run through August 1. Registration will be completed through the Infinite Campus Parent Portal. 

    Families who register their students for the Digital Academy will be permitted to return their students to their original school upon withdrawing from the Digital Academy. Students will not lose their lottery spots for the 2020-2021 school year if they choose to attend the Digital Academy.

    Woodcrest Elementary students who register for the Digital Academy will start virtually at Woodcrest on July 29 and begin the Digital Academy curriculum on Sept. 8.

    2020-2021 Academic Calendar

    The Board of Education approved the District’s new academic calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. The starting date for students is now Tuesday, Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. 

    Teachers in all grade bands will report to work on Monday, Aug. 24, for two full weeks of professional development to prepare for the return of students to school buildings and remote learning. 

    Woodcrest Elementary School Year-Round Schedule

    Students at the District’s only year-round school, Woodcrest Elementary, will begin the school year with all-virtual classes on Wednesday, July 29. Woodcrest students will begin the blended learning schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

    Woodcrest staff will report to work on Monday, July 27, and also participate in the two weeks of district-wide professional development Aug. 24 through Sept. 4.

    Health and Safety

    The health and safety of our students, staff, and the Columbus community is our top priority as we plan for how to reopen schools and office buildings. Every CCS building will have hygiene and social distancing protocols that must be followed. The recommendations include:

    • All staff will be required to wear masks. 
      • CCS will provide masks for staff, or staff will be allowed to wear their own masks.
    • Students will be required to wear masks on the bus. 
      • CCS will provide masks for students who need them, or students will be allowed to wear their own masks.
    • It is recommended that all students wear masks in school. 
      • CCS will provide masks for students who need them, or students will be allowed to wear their own masks.
    • Social distancing in classrooms and common areas, avoiding crowds, and staying at least six feet away from others whenever possible.
      • Physical barriers will be installed where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
      • To accommodate social distancing in classrooms and commons areas, the District’s Operations team is creating layouts for desks, tables, chairs, and other items.
    • Hand sanitizer will be provided in all buildings.
    • Appropriate and thorough hand washing will be encouraged.
    • Families will be asked to do home assessments of their students’ health each day before sending them to school. 
    • Staff will be asked to do self-assessments of their own health before reporting to work each day.
    • Limited visitors or volunteers will be allowed in school buildings.
    • No in-person field trips will be allowed. 
    • Students and staff must use fillable water bottles and not drink directly from water fountains.
    • Families should make arrangements for pick-up of students who become ill during the school day.
      • Each school will have a separation room for a student who is feeling ill and is awaiting pick-up from their parent or guardian.

    Cleaning and Disinfecting

    CCS staff will thoroughly clean and disinfect school buildings each night after in-person classes. As part of its typical cleaning procedures, CCS uses a hospital-grade disinfectant, in addition to electrostatic disinfectant sprayers that are used as an added layer of disinfecting. These typical procedures will continue in the fall.

    Food Services

    We know that many of our students and their families rely on the District’s free breakfast and lunch program. CCS will continue to provide these meals to all students. 

    When students are in school, meals will be consumed in the classroom. To accommodate breakfast and lunch when students are learning at home, each student will be given six meals (two per day of remote learning) when they leave the school building. 

    For high school students who are learning remotely full-time, CCS will provide a grab-and-go meal distribution where students can pick up 10 meals (two per day of remote learning) for the week.

    Transportation

    On a typical school day, CCS provides transportation for more than 40,000 students to and from 110 District school sites as well as 150 charter/non-public schools. This includes routing to accommodate 98 different charter and non-public school calendars and 110 different charter and non-public school bell times in addition to the District’s calendar and bell times. 

    Due to these challenges coupled with social distancing guidelines for bus rider capacity, transportation remains one of the most significant barriers to the reopening plan. The task force has explored many different options for transportation, some of which include increased costs for buses and staffing. 

    CCS will provide transportation for all students who qualify for transportation and who attend classes in-person. Students will be required to wear a mask or face covering when using CCS transportation. 

    The task force continues to analyze and discuss all options related to transportation and expects to have more information this summer.

    Access to Technology

    We know that access to technology -- specifically laptops and internet access -- is a barrier for many of our families. This past spring, we were able to distribute more than 19,000 Chromebook computers and more than 1,000 wifi hotspot devices to our families. 

    CCS continues to explore funding options in order to provide computers and internet access to all students who need it. 

    Engagement and Training for Parents and Guardians

    CCS will provide engagement and training sessions prior to the start of the school year for parents and guardians on supporting their at-home and blended model learners. 

    The Department of Engagement has already kicked off these efforts by hosting its first-ever Virtual Family Engagement Hour on Monday, June 29. More than 600 of our parents and guardians signed up to participate. 

    Our Engagement team is committed to hosting more of these Virtual Family Engagement sessions on a regular basis, both leading up to the start of the school year and beyond into the fall semester. These family conversations will be a regular part of our overall engagement efforts. The next Virtual Family Engagement Hour is set for Tuesday, July 14. Details on how to RSVP will be coming soon to our families.

    Central Office Buildings

    The District plans to reopen its central office buildings in August. Most staff have been working from home since the Governor’s initial stay-at-home order. The Reopening Task Force will provide recommendations in July on when and how central office staff can safely return to working in-person.

    Budget Implications

    Reopening this fall will not come without increased expenses in order to meet social distancing and health guidelines that protect our students, staff, and community. The District expects to receive federal funding from the CARES Act, which will cover some but not all of the new expenses. Columbus City Schools expects to receive approximately $27 million from the CARES Act legislation. The current recommendations could cost up to $100 million with a combination of one-time and recurring costs. The District continues to explore necessary expenditures and potential revenues related to reopening schools. 

    Next Steps

    CCS must now operationalize these recommendations to be ready for the fall. These recommendations are currently listed as tentative as the District awaits updated guidance from state officials, agreements with our labor union partners, and additional study of our available resources. We know that families and staff are seeking final answers, and we are committed to providing them as soon as we can. 

    In consideration of the next steps for families, registration for the Digital Academy will open on July 13 in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal and close on August 1. Families should plan accordingly if they are interested in this option.

    Survey Data

    The District surveyed stakeholders for feedback and opinions for reopening schools in the fall, including parents and guardians, students, teachers, classified staff, administrators, and substitutes. Some of the surveys did have low response rates, such as the student survey which garnered around 4,000 responses representing less than 10% of the entire CCS student population. 

    Click the links below to see the survey results from stakeholders:

    Reopening Task Force

    Superintendent Dixon appointed the Reopening Task Force in May to proactively create a plan for returning to school buildings that adheres to guidelines and recommendations from local, state, and federal health officials while also providing equitable academic opportunities for all students.  

    The task force began its work in early May to analyze and discuss all possible scenarios to safely reopening schools and central office buildings. More than 150 staff members across various departments and roles, in addition to community partners, have contributed to the task force as part of nine working groups: 

    • Health, Social Emotional, and Safety
    • Academics
    • Virtual Learning
    • Engagement
    • Operations
    • Human Resources
    • Budget and Finance
    • Central Office Operations
    • Legislative and Board Policy