Dear Upper Arlington families,
There’s a lot of important information to share this week, so I invite you to watch my video message, but please also be sure to read through the entire email below.
As promised, we have spent the past several days reviewing the school reopening guidance from Governor DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, we were able to meet with officials from Franklin County Public Health this morning to receive guidance specific to our local area, and we will continue to work closely with them as the school year progresses. We all are anxious to have all students back in school all day every day, and we look forward to making that happen as soon as safely possible.
Why we need your feedback
Below you will find more details regarding our K-12 prototype for the fall and a chance for our families and staff members to weigh in. This feedback will help us fine-tune our prototype to make it the best it can be.
Please understand though, our final decisions about which variation of the school-based pathway to run at a given time will be based on the health and safety of our students, their families and our staff members. Health and safety concerns encompass many things - both the documented benefits of having students in the traditional school setting as well as adhering to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System in relation to necessary COVID-19 precautions in Franklin County at any particular time. There will be difficult decisions ahead, and health officials have advised us that all three of the instructional models in our school-based pathway are likely to be needed at some point this school year.
As described in last week’s email, our prototype includes two pathways for students in kindergarten through high school. The first pathway is school-based and places a priority on having all students in school full time. The second pathway is an all digital option for families that prefer their students learn at home. Below is more information on both pathways.
The school-based pathway prioritizes face-to-face instruction for 100 percent of students with safety precautions and three feet of social distancing in place. This option will be available when Franklin County is under a Level 1 (yellow) or Level 2 (orange) alert based upon the new Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
If Franklin County is under a Level 3 (red) alert, students in the school-based option will switch to a hybrid instructional model, which would bring about 50 percent of students to school on a given day and enable us to expand social distancing to six feet. This schedule will be challenging for everyone, so we have developed three different possible schedules, and we’ll be asking for your feedback on those in the survey linked below.
If Franklin County is under a Level 4 (purple) alert, all students would move to a distance teaching and learning model. This would be an enhanced distance learning program that has been developed with the feedback from students, parents and staff regarding our experiences this spring. There will be no extracurricular activities offered while at Level 4 (purple).
Governor DeWine has announced that the Ohio Public Health Advisory System will be updated each Thursday. If the alert level in Franklin County increases, necessitating a change to hybrid or distance learning, the new instructional model would be implemented the following Monday. If the alert level in Franklin County decreases, health officials have advised waiting one additional week to confirm that COVID-19 health trends are indeed heading in the right direction before switching to the hybrid or 100 percent face-to-face instructional options.
You can learn more about the risk levels in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System here and check Franklin County’s current status here.
Please note that confirmation of the virus in students or staff members could also impact which of the school-based options is implemented at any given time. In these cases, the district will work with local health officials to determine the appropriate steps to take within the affected building.
UA Online Academy - digital learning pathway
This digital instruction option will allow families to opt into an online curriculum designed specifically for remote learning. This will enable students to move at their own pace, and it will cover all of Ohio’s learning standards for each grade level. Please note, students in the UA Online Academy will be expected to log in and work on the same days as their in-school peers, and they are able to work and master content at their own pace. Due to the highly personalized nature of the pacing aspect of online learning, these online students may be at a different place in the curriculum than their in-school peers. We are working on guidelines regarding transitions between the two pathways.
Safety precautions and operational changes
In any of the school-based options, increased disinfecting and hygiene protocols will be in place to reduce the likelihood of infection. Some, but not all, of these measures are listed below.
Health checks and ill students - All families are asked to perform health checks on students before coming to school each day. If a student has an elevated temperature or any other sign of potential illness, they should stay home. Parents and guardians will need to pick up from school any students found to have a fever or to be exhibiting signs of illness during the school day.
Face coverings for staff members - All staff members will wear a mask or other face covering that covers the nose and mouth.
Face coverings for students - All students will be required to wear a mask or other face covering that covers the nose and mouth when on buses or in any school building. Families will provide face coverings for students; only a limited supply will be available at the school. A medical exemption application will be provided for families concerned about masks and those students will be provided with a face shield. Families can begin working with their children now to practice mask wearing and determine which style of face covering will be most comfortable during the school day.
Bus transportation - Bus transportation will be available but limited to two students per seat. Students and drivers will be required to wear face coverings while on the bus.
Hallway and entrance/exit modifications - One-way directional flows for hallways and entrances/exits will be developed to reduce potential contact during the start and end of the school day and during class changes.
Nutritional services - Nutritional services will be offered with limited grab-and-go menus. Locations throughout the buildings will be used for lunch or food will be delivered to classrooms.
Visitors and volunteers - Volunteers have long provided incredible support to Upper Arlington classrooms. However, at this time, in order to control the number of people that students and staff members encounter during the day, visitors and volunteers will not be allowed in the building.
Field trips and overnight travel - At this point, no school day field trips or overnight travel will be planned for the 2020-2021 school year.
Large-group student events - While at Level 3 (red) or Level 4 (purple), no all-school assemblies or other large-group student events will be planned.
Lockers and school supplies - No hallway lockers will be used at the middle school and high school level. School supplies will not be shared by multiple students at the elementary level.
Please click here to complete a short survey by Friday, July 10. This survey will ask for your feedback on the schedule for the hybrid learning plan included in the school-based pathway, your current thoughts on whether you will select the digital learning or school-based pathway and provide an opportunity for additional thoughts.
As always, thank you for your feedback and collaboration.
Paul Imhoff, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Upper Arlington Schools