- CCS News
Board Meeting Highlight (September 1, 2020): Superintendent's Report
First Day of School
As you know, we are just a week away from starting the new school year, next Tuesday, September 8th. CCS will begin the year in a completely virtual learning environment for all students in grades pre-K through 12.
Students in grades K-12 will begin classes on September 8, while pre-K students will begin on September 15.
Most of our students will be engaging through their school’s remote learning platforms. Many of our students -- around 5,200 -- will be engaging through our new self-paced CCS Digital Academy.
No matter which remote learning platform is being used, we know that our teachers and staff have a tremendous responsibility to provide meaningful and rigorous learning experiences for all of our students. I am confident that CCS will rise up to meet this great challenge ahead of us.
Year-Round Woodcrest Elementary in Full Swing
While the school year is just about to begin for students on the traditional academic calendar, our only year-round school -- Woodcrest Elementary -- has been going strong with remote learning since late July.
One-to-one device access for Pre-K through 5th grade students has been critical to helping our year-round students get off to an excellent start. Principal Briane Pannell and her staff have also hosted virtual parent meetings and open houses, and the school has continued to maintain classroom traditions virtually while using digital platforms with clear guides for families. All students were able to receive reading and math resources and manipulatives to support learning while students are away from school.
Thank you to our outstanding Woodcrest teachers and staff who have been engaging our students remotely this summer!
East Linden Elementary Named Hall of Fame School
A congratulations is in order for Principal Cheryl Jones and the teachers and staff of East Linden Elementary School.
The Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators announced today that East Linden Elementary has been selected as a 2020 Hall of Fame School.
The Hall of Fame School Award recognizes schools that engage faculty, students, and the community to provide a quality school experience. The school staff submitted an extensive application documenting the effectiveness of their educational program in several areas. Hall of Fame Schools were selected by committees of O-A-E-S-A members.
Congratulations to the school community at East Linden Elementary!
All 9,000 plus staff members have been undergoing intensive training and professional development the past two weeks through our first-ever CCS Summer Institute.
We started with our virtual Staff Convocation last Monday morning -- and we had 7,000 people log on live to watch the event and many more who watched it on-demand. From there, we have offered small- and large-group sessions in the areas of:
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Technology Integration
- Social Emotional Learning and Equity; and
- Workplace Shifts, Health, and Safety.
I want to thank all of our staff members for their participation and engagement in these two weeks of training. Together, we are modeling life-long learning by building the capacity of our staff members to better serve our students and their families.
Students can GEAR UP for the school year this week. Beginning on Wednesday, students in all CCS schools, including the Digital Academy, have the opportunity to pick up Chromebooks, instructional materials, and more at their school of attendance.
Pick-up procedures and schedules will vary by school. Families should contact their principal if they have not yet received information about their school’s pick-up dates and times. A schedule is also available online.
All 20,000 new Chromebook computers have been received and have been prepared to deploy to students who need them. Families can also request a wifi hotspot device if they do not have reliable internet access at home.
Student Success Stores
As students are coming to our school buildings to pick up Chromebooks and academic materials, several of our community partners are also providing resources for families to take home. One of those partners is Student Success Stores. This weekend, dozens of their volunteers packed special hygiene kits - Individual Hygiene kits for young men and young women, as well as Family Hygiene kits.
This morning, they delivered hundreds of these kits to 11 of our schools:
- Mifflin Middle,
- Woodward Park,
- Woodward Park at Walden,
- Columbus Global Academy,
- Columbus North International,
- Wedgewood Middle,
- South High School,
- Fort Hayes,
- Walnut Ridge High School, and
- Champion Middle.
In the coming weeks, the organization is set to provide additional hygiene kits for families when they stop by our food distribution sites.
Since the start of our unprecedented Grab-and-Go Food Site effort at the beginning of this pandemic last March, our Food Services team has provided more than half-a-million meals to young people throughout our entire community. That’s hundreds-of-thousands of free healthy breakfasts and lunches that families didn’t have to worry about for their children as they struggled through the fear and uncertainty of this COVID-19 crisis.
As we start the school year next week, we will be expanding the distribution of our food service program to 44 sites across the District. Every Wednesday, beginning September 9th, families will be able to pick up a free weekly five-day meal pack for any child 18 and under while our students are learning in our remote environment.
The meal packs will contain five days of breakfasts and five days of lunches boxed together. To make it easy, we will assign families a specific grab-and-go location close to their home. Meal pick-ups will be every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and in the evening from 5 to 7 p.m.
Families can expect recorded phone dialer reminders in the coming days. We also have the sites posted to our Reopening Hub on the District website.
Learning Extension Centers
As we open the school year in a virtual learning environment, community partnerships are so critical in helping us serve our students and families.
One way that Columbus City Schools is leveraging the power of partnerships is through the creation of Learning Extension Centers -- which are safe, adult-supervised spaces where students can feel supported while learning virtually, and parents can feel comforted knowing that their child is in a safe, welcoming environment during the day.
CCS is partnering with several community organizations to create these centers -- including some of our larger faith-based partners and, as was announced yesterday, with Mayor Ginther and Columbus Recreation and Parks on their Active Learning Points.
At these Learning Extension Centers, students will have access to internet and learning devices to assist them in remote learning. Staff at the centers will be able to assist students in accessing our CCS Remote Learning and Digital Academy platforms.
In many LEC locations, students will also be able to get meals and may have access to “after-school” type activities.
LECs are not run by Columbus City Schools, but we are working to connect families and schools with LEC’s closest to them. Each of our six regions will have community and faith-based supported Learning Extension Centers available for families.
We are also providing training to LEC staff so they know how to help students (and parents) get online and into our remote learning platforms.
Space in these Centers is limited. Remember, to be safe, students will need socially-distanced work stations… so many of the LECs can only accommodate 10-15 students. That’s why we are so appreciative when a community partner is able to host a Learning Extension Center.
Blended Learning Days Selection
While we are ready to open the school year in a completely remote learning environment, preparations are also underway for when we are able to welcome students back into school buildings for a blended learning model.
Our Operations team has been preparing all of our school buildings and administrative sites so that they are ready with all of the proper health, safety, and social distancing measures in place when the time comes to welcome back our 50,000 students and 9,000 staff members in-person.
The first step in returning to in-person classes would be a blended learning model where students would learn at school two days a week and at home the remaining three days.
Families of pre-K through 12th grade students are now able to choose their preferred weekly schedule of in-person days when the blended learning model is implemented. They can log on to the Parent Portal until this Friday, September 4th, at 5:00 p.m. to make their selection.
If a selection is not made by the Friday deadline, families will be assigned an in-person cohort for their students. Again, this selection is for when the blended learning model is implemented. As a reminder, we are opening the school year next Tuesday, September 8th, in a completely virtual learning environment.
As was announced last week, Columbus City Schools has allowed in-person interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities to resume as of this past Saturday, August 29th.
This decision was based on the decreasing trend in positive COVID-19 cases in the city of Columbus, according to data from Columbus Public Health officials. As we heard from Dr. Mysheika Roberts last week, Columbus has seen the four-week decline in positive cases that she and her team were looking for.
It is certainly good news for our community that we are seeing a steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases. Columbus City Schools will continue to do its part to help sustain that trend.
If the local public health data regarding COVID-19 worsens, Columbus City Schools would consider suspending all in-person athletics and extracurricular activities again to help mitigate the spread of the virus in our community.
We know how important athletics and extracurricular activities are to our schools and our community. But, most importantly, we know how much these opportunities mean to our students. As a District, we are excited to be able to provide these opportunities this fall while following health and safety guidelines.
Family Engagement Sessions
This week’s focus is on the Parent Portal, which is a valuable tool for families to stay engaged in their child’s education and to securely access valuable information, such as grades and course schedules, daily attendance, and missed assignments.
We know accessing the Parent Portal for the first time - or remembering how to navigate through it - can be a challenge.
That’s why we are dedicating two Virtual Family Engagement Sessions to using the Parent Portal:
- Tuesday, September 1, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
- Thursday, September 3, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Our partners from the Columbus Metropolitan Library will also join our Virtual Family Engagement Sessions this week to share information on their virtual homework help centers, reading buddy program, and tech support for students having trouble using their Chromebooks.
Families must register to attend the virtual family engagement sessions by visiting ccsoh.us/rsvp.
Daily Family Engagement Sessions on Facebook Live
Our Virtual Family Engagement Sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings continue to draw large numbers of families and staff, but we want to engage even more families in these final days leading up to the start of classes.
So today we launched the first of our week-long “Link Up Mini Virtual Family Engagement Sessions” on Facebook Live. Today’s 20-minute special session was hosted by Amanda McClafferty, our Family Ambassador at Ecole Kenwood. She walked parents through the login process on Clever and shared some good tips on setting up an engaging educational space at home for your child. We also had a special message from our partners at City Year.
We will be hosting these mini-sessions all week. They will be live around noon and then available for video play-back throughout the day. Tomorrow we have some great tips and tools for parents who are stressing about the coming school year from our partner (and Mifflin alum) I Know I Can Board President Tei Street.