Today, during a meeting with local health officials, we received significant new information that is causing us to update our Responsible Restart Plan for this fall. Because of these changes, I will not be asking the Board of Education to take action on the plan tonight.
Instead we will spend tonight’s meeting hearing from the Franklin County Health Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner and reviewing the updated recommendations based upon the agency’s guidance. If you would like to watch the meeting, a live-stream will be available on our district YouTube channel
.Starting the yearThe first change to the recommendation is that we start the year in Enhanced Distance Learning due to the current COVID-19 conditions in Franklin County.
The county health department has said we need to see a sustained decrease in the county’s overall risk level for at least four weeks before students return to any type of in-person learning environment.
This guidance means the Ohio Public Health Alert System becomes just one factor in the decision as to what delivery model we will use at a given time — we will no longer be recommending strict adherence to the state alert levels by county. We will meet regularly with health officials, who will use all of the data available to offer guidance on when it is safe to switch to the hybrid learning model.I am going to recommend that we stay in Enhanced Distance Learning through at least Friday, September 18.
This is a little different from some local districts, which have made the decision to do the full first quarter in distance learning. We want to identify a date to help families and staff members plan ahead, but we are also still hopeful to have our students back in the building at some point during the first nine weeks. We will continue to meet with health officials and provide updates to staff members and families as to health officials’ guidance on our county’s overall risk level.
Again, to be clear, we are not guaranteeing a return to in-person school after September 18. We will follow public health guidance and make a decision about a return to in-person school based upon that recommendation. We will keep our community and staff informed as we learn more from public health officials.Updated physical distancing requirements
The next major change is that the county health department says it will not recommend anything less than six feet of physical distancing at any time during this health crisis. Initial guidance suggested it would be acceptable to have as little as three feet of physical distancing during Levels 1 and 2 in the Ohio Public Health Alert System so long as we continued with face coverings and all other mitigation measures.
Like most local school districts, we are unable to have all of our students in the district at the same time and maintain six feet of social distancing. That means, at this time, it appears we will not be able to operate in our All Students, Every Day model at any time during this health crisis - even at the lower levels of the alert system. If public health guidance changes, we will remain ready to implement the “all-in” model.Everything is subject to change
Remember that these changes are based upon what we know today. As the situation continues to change, it is likely our plans will have to change and adapt too. We will continue to work closely with public health officials and to keep everyone updated on the latest information available.Next steps
We have spent the morning updating our Responsible Restart Plan
with this new information. During tonight’s Board of Education meeting, county health officials will join us to walk through their current guidance and answer questions directly from our Board of Education members.
We will offer opportunities to learn more this week, and we will send out Zoom links tomorrow to join these information sessions. Virtual parent information sessions: Thursday, July 30