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Superintendent's Weekly Message - February 26, 2021

Dr. Dixon Message 2/26

Dear CCS Community,

Yesterday as we announced the dates for the phased-in return of our students in grades 6-12 back to their classrooms, we marked another significant milestone in the long road through this pandemic. It’s been nearly a year since our current reality started with a statewide closure of schools. As we approach that anniversary, I am excited that we are able to offer all of our students an opportunity for in-person learning. 

Every day counts for our students, and getting them back in their classrooms is important for their academic and social-emotional development -- this is especially critical for our seniors who are working towards graduation in the coming months.

These middle and high school students have been learning remotely since the fall, and I am glad we will be able to bring them back just as we were able to successfully transition student groups to blended learning in early February. 

If you missed the announcement, click here for the complete details. In short, here is the phased-in plan for March:

  • On Monday, March 15, Cohort A students in grades 6, 11, and 12 will transition to blended learning, followed by Cohort B students in these grade levels on March 18. These students will attend classes at school two days per week and home three days per week.  
  • On Monday, March 22, Cohort A students in grades 7, 8, 9, and 10 will transition to blended learning. Cohort B students will transition on Thursday, March 25

In that second week of the transition, we will have more than 40,000 CCS students attending in a blended model and another several thousand students enrolled in the all virtual CCS Digital Academy.

We have been preparing for this transition for months to ensure that we are ready for ALL students to return on-site. Our school buildings are ready, meeting all of the health and safety protocols that are necessary for holding in-person classes during the pandemic. For more information on the indicators we are using to ensure school building readiness, please click here.

I encourage our students and families to visit our Blended Learning Hub. There you will find a wealth of information on various topics, including more than 20 health and safety videos, a list of frequently asked questions about blended learning, student cohort groups, meals, transportation, and health and safety building and school bus protocols.

WATCH: Virtual Family Engagement Session

As part of our announcement on Thursday, I participated in the weekly Virtual Family Engagement Session to talk in more detail about our transition plans for March. I was joined by members of our Academic Services team, principals, and students for the informative session. Click here to watch a replay of the session.

COVID-19 Vaccine for CCS Teachers and Staff

More than 5,000 Columbus City Schools teachers and staff have received or will be receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days and weeks. This vaccine is an additional layer of protection on top of the health and safety protocols that we have in place to safely transition all students to in-person learning. 

We were afforded this opportunity for teachers and staff to receive the vaccine early in the rollout process as part of a commitment to the State of Ohio to allow all students to transition to blended learning in March. We were able to return more than 23,000 students to their classrooms in February, and we will nearly double that total next month. 

We have been very intentional in how we made this transition. Our phased-in approach allowed our district to ensure we had the proper mitigation strategies in place to bring back students safely. Now as we work to return our older students, we want to make sure that they have the same opportunity of a phased-in process to get acclimated to the new health and safety protocols that are in place. 

The complexities are greater in a district of our size -- transportation, staffing, and meeting the basic needs of our community to name a few -- so our approach to blended learning has been slower and more methodical than that of our neighboring districts. Despite these challenges, we will be able to safely offer the opportunity of in-person learning to all students starting in March.

Reminder: Remote Days on March 1-2

As a reminder, to allow flexibility for many CCS teachers and staff to receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, all CCS students will learn remotely Monday and Tuesday, March 1-2

These remote learning days will be synchronous (teacher-led instruction) for students in grades PreK-5, Career and Technical Education students, and students with complex needs in grades PreK-12. General education students in grades 6-12 will follow their typical schedule

Blended learning will resume on Thursday, March 4, for Cohort B students in grades PreK-5, Career and Technical Education students, and students with complex needs in grades PreK-12. 


Talisa Dixon
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools