- Liberty Elementary School
Superintendent's Weekly Message - February 19, 2021
Dear CCS Community,
Despite another blast of winter weather that forced the cancellation of classes for a third time this month, we continue to rise up to educate our students both in the school classroom and in our virtual learning environment.
Our commitment to our educational mission will not be deterred by factors we cannot control, such as COVID or winter weather. We will continue to work together as one school community to serve our students, their families, and our community -- whether that’s in the classroom, on the bus, or outside clearing snow. Together we can succeed and make a difference.
Return to Blended Learning
We are wrapping up our third week of blended learning this month. In total, we have nearly 24,000 students who are currently in the blended learning model, which represents more than half of our students district-wide.
Of course, we want to be able to bring in more students to blended learning. It was our intention to phase in our PreK through 5 students and then monitor our transportation capacity and our classroom staffing coverage before determining the next group of students to bring back.
We are also working on plans to return our students in grades 6 through 12 back to their classrooms. We expect to have more details that we can share in the coming weeks, as we target March for a return of additional students.
This does not come without significant challenges, namely transportation capacity and continuity of classroom staff coverage. Columbus City Schools remains committed to finding solutions to these barriers and transitioning all students to blended learning as soon as it is feasible to do so.
Transportation Needs Assessment Survey
In order to provide efficient transportation services now that we have transitioned to a blended learning model, we have reopened our transportation needs assessment survey.
Families with students who are eligible for transportation should have received an auto phone call and email message with a one-question survey in the Parent Portal.
We are asking families if they wish to “opt-out” their students from receiving yellow-bus transportation for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. The more information we have about families who do not wish to use our transportation services, the more efficient we can be in providing services to CCS and charter/non-public schools city-wide.
Please keep in mind:
- This survey is only for families with students who are eligible for yellow-bus services.
- Families must actively opt-out of transportation services. We will still route transportation for families who do not respond or who indicate they WILL use yellow-bus services.
CDC Reopening Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recently released guidelines for reopening schools that focus on five key COVID-19 mitigation strategies, all of which we are currently implementing as part of our blended learning model:
- wearing masks;
- social distancing;
- cleaning facilities and improving ventilation;
- and contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.
The CDC’s guidance shows that we are on the right track with our multi-layered health and safety protocols for blended learning. As a result of thorough planning and preparation, we have been able to put these protocols in place and ensure our mitigation strategies are implemented with fidelity before we phase in more students to their classrooms.
Staff Vaccines and Remote Learning Days
Thanks in large part to our partners at Columbus Public Health, more than 4,000 of our teachers and staff have already received their first dose of the vaccine. Most of the second doses will start next week and run through mid-March. We expect that more than half of our total employees will be fully vaccinated.
To allow flexibility for many CCS teachers and staff to receive their second dose of the vaccine, we have announced that all students will learn remotely Thursday and Friday, February 25-26, and Monday and Tuesday, March 1-2.
Recognizing there are possible side effects associated with the administration of the second dose, this temporary move to remote learning will allow flexibility for staffing coverage and certainty for our families of students in blended learning.
Even a slight increase in staff absences due to the second dose's potential side effects could result in unplanned school and classroom closures, putting our families in a difficult position.
As announced earlier this week, the 2021 graduation ceremony dates for Columbus City Schools are June 2-5. We will hold some form of in-person ceremonies, but we are still working out the details, including the format and location. This is the same case for our summer graduation ceremony, which will be held on August 14.
We knew that it was important to get the dates out to our students, families, and staff to plan accordingly. We will have more updates as information becomes available.
Thinking about some form of in-person graduation ceremony gives me hope and promise after one of the most challenging years in Columbus City Schools history.
Throughout this global pandemic, the one lesson learned is the value of adaptability, flexibility, and partnering. With so much change, it is paramount that we communicate with transparency. That means updating our CCS community when solutions are reached and not bombard you with possibilities, could be’s and maybe’s when it comes to our students, teachers, and staff.
The CCS leadership team is relentless and dedicated to fulfilling the mission that each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community. We will continue to live out that mission, be it in school or on Zoom. It takes all of us in the CCS community to do so, and I am thankful for everyone’s continued support, engagement, and efforts on behalf of our students.
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools