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Superintendent’s Letter to Families - July 20, 2020

Dear CCS Families,

As you know, on June 30, I provided our District’s initial school reopening plans to the CCS community.  The recommendations were based on the intensive work by the Reopening Task Force led by more than 150 staff, teachers, principals, parents, district partners, union leadership, businesses and community leaders, and health officials.

First and foremost, our priority for the 2020-2021 school year is to keep our entire CCS community – students and their families and all teachers, staff, and administrators – safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

That priority has not changed, and it will not change.

As you know, the spread of COVID-19 continues to increase, especially in the city of Columbus and Franklin County. This past Tuesday, I asked Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts’ team to provide an update on the virus to my Cabinet and Task Force leaders as it pertains to our District boundaries and family zip codes. 

The numbers are sobering.

We received several important recommendations, including two that I wanted to share with you as an update from my letter to families on July 1.  First, because of the continued spread of infection, it is recommended that not only all staff but also all students be required to wear masks, both on the bus and in our school buildings. This is in addition to all the social distancing protocols such as keeping six feet distance whenever possible, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, and sanitizing high-touch surfaces regularly.

The second important guidance we received from Columbus Public Health is that it is important to see four consecutive weeks of decreasing numbers of new COVID cases in order for Columbus City Schools to reopen safely.

As we monitor the data and seek guidance, we will need to give serious consideration to beginning the school year with a fully remote learning model for grades preK-12. We will continue our close communications with Columbus Public Health for updates on the spread of the virus within our District boundaries. 

Even with implementing social distancing on school busses and in the classroom, it is still an enormous challenge to bring 50,000 students and 9,000 employees back safely if the rate of infection does not begin to trend and sustain downward. Our District’s experience and challenges with the negative impact of COVID-19 is different than that of our neighboring suburban school districts.

Although no decision has been made, I wanted to provide you with the most recent update based on our meeting last week with Columbus Public Health.  

As Superintendent, I want nothing more than to have our students back in the classroom and in our school buildings. However, that may not be possible if the data does not improve. We simply would not be able to take the risk.

At the same time, we feel positive about the strides we have made with ongoing planning to prepare for digital and blended learning. Online or digital learning will be a part of all of our futures in education, and CCS will be a leader in this learning format.  We have scheduled additional training in this area for our teachers and staff before the start of school on September 8.

If you haven’t already, please consider participating in one of our scheduled Family Engagement Virtual Meetings to learn about plans for reopening and helping your students with online learning. You can find the schedule for future family engagement virtual meetings here.

I will continue to provide you with information as we receive it from our partners at Columbus Public Health, as well as updates from the Reopening Task Force as we finalize plans for beginning school this fall. 

I sincerely appreciate all the support and encouragement I’ve received from so many of you as we work to navigate these uncharted waters during the ongoing pandemic.

For all our students to be safe and successful, it is imperative that we all work together, arm in arm to determine the best reopening plan and to provide the most equitable learning opportunities for all of our students when we begin the school year on September 8. 


Dr. Talisa Dixon
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools