OFCS Restart Update - Change in Student Start Date, Health Advisory Levels, Distance Learning Option, Family Survey (7/17/20 4:45 PM)

Dear Bulldog Families,

Keeping you updated with the latest available information continues to be a top priority.  I am emailing today to share a few key updates regarding the restart of Olmsted Falls Schools this fall. As we consider re-opening school in the fall it is important to me that it doesn’t turn into an argument of “the people who want to open” versus “the people who don’t want to open.” Everyone wants school to be open. Yes, kids appear less likely to become seriously sick than adults. How often children become infected and the role they play in transmission are generally unanswered questions. It is believed that very young children do not contribute to spread as much as older ones, however in the winter/spring, everyone thought that the summer would kill the virus and it would go away. That did not happen. My biggest concern is the potential for children to become infected, exhibit no symptoms, and then spread it to others including members of their family, teachers and other school employees. We do not know what the long term effects are for those that contract the virus.  My role is to ensure the safety and welfare of both student and adult. 

Thank you in advance for taking a few minutes to read through the important information below:

 

  • I will be formally recommending to our Board of Education a revised 2020-2021 start date for students of Tuesday, September 8th.  (Note: Preschool start dates will be slightly later and information will be communicated directly with preschool families once confirmed.) This revised calendar can be viewed now on the district website by clicking HERE.

 

  • As it relates to responsibly restarting school, there are some guiding principles that we will use that I wanted to share: 
  1. National, state, and local health officials & leaders make health decisions. Educators make educational decisions. 

  2. COVID-19 safety concerns take priority over educational issues (for both the students and adults). While we cannot eliminate the risk associated with a return, we can mitigate it. The decisions we make are meant to keep us in school more to maximize learning. 

  3. Equity and access to instruction for all students is a priority.

  4. Spending and resource allocation will be variables as we consider how to reopen.

 

  • With the new Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System now in place, we have partnered with many local districts in our area to create a set of common procedures to assist with consistency in reopening. Our plan is to utilize Ohio’s COVID Advisory Scale framework to help us with determining the manner in which schools will safely operate as the new year begins and throughout the school year while the COVID-19 outbreak is still active. There is not a perfect system in place at this time and until a better system is established, we will rely on the health experts and their data to guide us.  The system features four color-coded alert levels: Yellow (Level 1), Orange (Level 2), Red (Level 3) and Purple (Level 4).  Cuyahoga County is currently at Red (Level 3). We will use the leveled system to guide our operations as follows:

a. Yellow (Level 1): “ALL IN” - All OFCS school buildings will be open; all students will attend 5 days per week and we will do our very best to implement mitigation protocols.

b. Orange (Level 2): “ALL IN” - All OFCS school buildings should be able to remain open; all students should be able to attend 5 days per week with required mitigation protocols; we will seek to obtain additional local data to help guide our decision making process for this level.

c. Red (Level 3): “HYBRID” - OFCS will implement a hybrid learning approach across the district by dividing our student population in half and assigning a consistent schedule for in-person attendance (likely Tues./Thur., Wed./Fri. with Monday used as a distance learning day for all so teachers can work with kids more flexibly). Distancing will be at 6 feet.

d. Purple (Level 4): “DISTANCE LEARNING” - All OFCS school buildings will remain closed to students; all students will participate in distance learning under the OFCS Distance Learning 2.0 Model, which will be launching this fall. We have committees of teachers, parents and administrators working collaboratively to improve upon the distance learning model that was quickly implemented in March.

e. Establishing flexible school plans that correspond to the above four levels will allow us to more seamlessly adapt to the potentially changing conditions we anticipate during the upcoming year. We anticipate that the level and corresponding method of school operation will be assessed and announced on Thursday every two weeks throughout the year, or until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. The announcement on Thursday will direct what we do the following week. We recognize that there may be times when the decision to shift methods must occur more quickly. As always, our goal will be to communicate changes as soon as we are aware of them.

 

  • I want to make clear that no matter what level our schools open under this fall there WILL be a distance learning option for those families who are not comfortable sending their students physically back into the school building. The new OFCS distance learning program will feature a significantly more robust and more structured online learning environment than what was provided during the initial closure of schools this spring. For those choosing this option, there are components of the curriculum that we may not be able to deliver (specials and for high school students, specific courses that include electives and Advanced Placement). More information on the new distance learning program will be forthcoming as the overall restart plans are finalized and shared.

 

  • Finally, the OFCS School Reopening Survey will remain open through this Sunday, July 19th. We have already received more than 2,200 responses and sincerely appreciate our families for taking the time to share their thoughts and opinions. The data we collected through this survey will help guide our restart committees - especially as it relates to creating the hybrid scenario that we will need to have available. If you have not yet completed the survey and are still interested in doing so, you can click HERE to access and participate.

 

Again, we are committed to keeping you updated as our restart plans become finalized.  We realize that our families need to plan ahead and that providing you with a specific framework from which you can make decisions is critical.  With our School Reopening Survey closing this Sunday, our next steps include analyzing the data and bringing our OFCS Responsible Restart committees together to work through a number of pending details such as the bell schedule, entering and exiting the buildings, distancing, cleaning buildings, face coverings and masks, transportation to and from school, etc.  

Once the district’s restart plan has been finalized and shared with our school families, we will be asking each family to make a decision as to whether their student will be attending school in person (“All In” or “Hybrid” based on county alert level), or participating in the distance learning option. The decision made for each student will need to be for a set period of time (i.e. through the first semester) because we anticipate we will need to place our teaching staff accordingly . A secure online form will be provided and will need to be completed for each Bulldog student in your household. 

Thank you for your continued patience, understanding and support.

Stay safe and be well.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jim

 

Dr. Jim Lloyd

Superintendent for the Olmsted Falls City School District

26937 Bagley Rd.

Olmsted Township, OH 44138

Phone: 440-427-6000

Twitter: @OFCSSuper

Web: www.ofcs.net

 

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