Return to Headlines

Return to School for In-Person Learning Slated for October

 

We want to begin by thanking you for your support, patience and partnership during our start to the school year and as we continue to work through this pandemic together. This message outlines a staggered return to in-person learning 5 days a week for our K-6 students on October 5 and an adjusted alternating schedule for grade 7-12 students on October 19.  Although it is lengthy, please read the entire message so that you understand the rationale behind these decisions. As we have stated since our return-to-school plans were first announced in July, it has always been our intention to welcome back as many of our students as we can for in-person learning. That still remains our goal. 

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic highlight how interconnected and interdependent we are. Our ability to have our students stay in school is dependent on how well families follow the safety protocols. 

  • Follow proper mask wearing protocols at all times.
  • Maintain physical distancing outside of school.
  • Wash your hands and practice proper sanitation protocols.
  • Avoid large gatherings and social interactions.

We have compared our existing plans to the updated guidance from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health we received on September 14. The new CCBH recommendations provide clear information for a pathway to return to school referencing sustained trends linked to Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System and health research regarding a return to school.  

Our priority remains balancing the safety, educational and social-emotional needs of our students. To accomplish this, we are transitioning to provide in-person and virtual learning for students whose families still request that option as follows:

OCTOBER 5

Grades K-6 - All-In: 5 Days a Week at School, for those families who selected the all-in option. (Preschool remains 4 Days a Week at School, for those families who selected the all-in option.)


OCTOBER 19

Grades 7-12 - Alternating Schedule: 2 Days at School, 3 Days Virtual for families who selected the all-in option.

Monday/Tuesday - Students with Last Names A-K Attend School In Person

Wednesday/Thursday - Students with Last Names L-Z Attend School In Person

Friday - All Virtual


Data and trends show that student age matters: Students who are older and more social and mobile are at higher risk for contracting and transmitting COVID-19 and younger students appear less likely to transmit COVID-19 to each other or to adults.  Additionally, the most recent CDC and CCBH guidelines underscore the need to create discrete cohorts (groups) of students as much as possible to further mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in school communities. 

The alternating schedule for students in grades 7-12 is an additional phase of our return plan that allows us to create smaller groups of students to reduce risks and possible exposures. Due to the complexity of middle and high school schedules, we are not able to group students by classrooms. Virtual learning for the majority of our older students continues to be successful except for the lack of in-person connections that the students need.

The October 5 and October 19 dates were selected for several reasons:

  • The October 5 and 19 return dates give the district the time it needs to make  the multitude of operational and educational adjustments necessary to shift to in-person learning.
  • It is prudent to observe the case data to make sure that our return is as safe as possible, while at the same time giving our parents the time they need to make any necessary arrangements.
  • The end of the quarter is a critical time for our older students and the quarter is a logical breakpoint to make this transition.
  • The additional two weeks for grades 7-12 is needed to hone our transportation and food service routes with the alternating schedule for grades 7-12 and to incorporate any changes for all grades based on changes in family decisions about whether their children will return in person. 

Even when some of our students return in October, we know that more than 30 percent of our students will continue to learn remotely. Our technology continues to improve and we are committed to ensuring a more seamless educational experience for all of our students regardless of whether they are learning from home or in the classroom.

We understand there will always be some level of risk to in-person learning. Daily  protocols aligned with medical guidance from Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals as well as state and local public health orders and recommendations will mitigate the risk as much as possible. The multiple layers of protection in classrooms, common areas and buses outlined in our original back-to-school plans, including desk shields, distancing, sanitization, and strict adherence to face mask and handwashing protocols, are in place for our students’ return. Families may still choose to opt out and have their child remain virtual for the semester.

These return plans are contingent on continued COVID-19 case decline and low positivity rates with testing. If cases climb and positivity rates increase, we will need to return to fully remote learning. Additionally, positive case reports in our schools will result in students and staff members quarantining for up to 14 days in accordance with public health orders, which would necessitate remote learning for some of our students. 

Shortly, you will receive an overview message from your child’s school. If you opted for your child to return in person, you will receive a Return to School Confirmation Survey to confirm that is still your choice based on current conditions.  For our families who selected virtual for the semester, your children will remain as virtual learners through December 18. 

More information will follow next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions not answered in our Back-to-School FAQs, please reach out to your building principals next week.