I hope you and your family have had a good week!
I have a number of important updates to share today — including our current COVID situation, proposed schedule changes in November and December, a plan to enhance hybrid learning, and the form to request a transition to or from the UA Online Academy. Please take time to read this email, or you can watch my video update by clicking here.
Update from the Medical Advisory Team
The first update comes from our weekly Medical Advisory Team meeting yesterday. It has become clear that along with the alarming increase in statewide COVID-19 cases, our data here in Upper Arlington continues to trend in the wrong direction. Our team of experts suggested I pass along a plea for everyone in our community to do everything possible to stop the spread. That includes wearing masks, avoiding in-person gatherings with people outside your household and physical distancing. We all want to give our students the best chance possible to stay in school and in the activities they love.
You can see this week’s data on our COVID-19 dashboard.
Board of Education meeting
In light of the governor’s guidance on gatherings, we’ve decided to hold the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, November 18 virtually. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m., and you will find the link to the livestream on YouTube on our website.
As we already mentioned last week, the Board intends to take action on the matrix for all-in learning for use in the future when the data improves. They also hope to consider a matrix for moving to enhanced distance learning if and when that is needed. There are two additional things related to the school-based learning models that the board will be considering - please continue reading for more information about those.
Hybrid learning schedule - November 23 and 24 / December 21 and 22
At the November 18 meeting, the Board of Education will be considering a change to the hybrid learning schedule for the two-day weeks leading up to both Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Right now, the schedule calls for hybrid group 1 to be in school during those weeks and for hybrid group 2 to have independent remote learning.
We’ll propose to the Board that the four days leading up to the breaks - November 23 and 24, and December 21 and 22 - all become enhanced distance learning days. Our highest needs learners who are in our buildings 5 days a week right now would continue to report to school these days. This would give all students in the school-based pathway two full days of structured, teacher-led learning those weeks. And it makes sense given the current health data.
In fact, just to be safe, next week we will ask all students to take home from school anything they might need for enhanced distance learning. We’ll also ask families to start considering what that would mean for childcare needs. We aren’t trying to be alarming. These are just precautionary measures at this point - we want to be prepared in case the situation would continue to get worse during the break and we would need to transition to enhanced distance learning.
Proposed enhancements for hybrid learning
Another thing the board will consider at Wednesday’s meeting is enhancements to our hybrid learning model and a possible timeline for implementation. Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at how we can provide students with more opportunities to connect with their teachers while also enhancing the in-person instructional time. One of the core values in our strategic plan is continuous improvement, and our hybrid learning model is no exception. Our strategic priority of student and staff well-being is at the heart of this - we want to make sure everyone feels a sense of balance and belonging, especially right now.
With all of that in mind, we are proposing a new hybrid learning schedule that would provide students with three full days of structured and teacher-guided learning every week. This would be similar to the hybrid schedule right now, except on Wednesdays:
Mondays and Tuesdays:
Wednesdays: enhanced distance learning for all students in the school-based pathway (Hybrid Group 1 and Hybrid Group 2)
Thursdays and Fridays:
In this new hybrid schedule, every Wednesday would be an enhanced distance learning day - a structured day of teacher-led instruction. In addition to connecting with their teachers every Wednesday, we are working on adding opportunities for teachers to provide support and answer questions from students learning remotely. More details will be shared at the Board meeting next week.
Our highest needs learners who are in our buildings 5 days a week right now would continue to follow that schedule, with early dismissals at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Transitioning to or from the UA Online Academy
As I shared last week, we are offering families the opportunity to consider a transition either to or from the Online Academy for the second half of the school year. Please complete this form by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, November 29 ONLY if you would like to request to change your student’s learning pathway (either to the Online Academy or to the school-based pathway). If you want to maintain your student’s current learning pathway, you do not need to complete this form or take any action.
All approved transition requests will take effect on January 5, 2021, following winter break, and any changes would be for the remainder of the school year. To learn more about the Online Academy, you can view the November 12 virtual information session by clicking here.
As I mentioned last week, the City of Upper Arlington and Continental Real Estate Companies have announced a proposed development at the Kingsdale Center on the site of the former Macy’s building. The Board of Education has been approached to consider a TIF (tax increment financing) for that site. The City of Upper Arlington will be at the November 18 Board of Education meeting to share more information, and you can read more about the project at this link. City leaders have asked that the Board of Education vote on the proposal during its December 8 meeting.
That does it for this week’s update. Have a great weekend, and always, go Bears!
Paul Imhoff, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Upper Arlington Schools