Dear CPS Community,
Thank you for your guidance and feedback as we prepare for a return to school in the fall. We began planning in April, and we are grateful for the outpouring of questions, perspectives and ideas that have been shared in the last several weeks and months.
We heard you through participation in planning committees, focus groups and our survey of more than 6,200 employees, parents, students and community members. We have seen record-breaking participation in recent board meetings.
Earlier today, the CPS Board of Education approved a go-forward plan that we believe provides the best balance of safety and academic success for our students. This plan will return students to in-person instruction 2–3 days per week. Because no plan that includes classroom instruction is completely without health risk, we encourage families for whom in-person instruction does not make sense to explore our Cincinnati Digital Academy for the 2020–2021 school year.
Future of Schools Plan
Our guiding principles — safety and health, as much in-person learning as possible, equity, data-driven decision making and fiscal responsibility — remain at the forefront of our planning process.
Our return to school plan includes three important components:
1. Blended Learning
This model includes dividing our students into two groups in order to maintain the CDC's recommended six-feet of social distancing. Each group will receive a minimum of two-days per week in class (Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday) and will alternate attending in-person on Wednesdays. On days that students are not in the classroom, they will utilize remote learning. Students will stay in their schools, and will not spread across other buildings or community spaces.
2. Cincinnati Digital Academy
For parents and guardians concerned about their family’s or their student’s health in an in-person school environment, a full-time digital learning option is available. Our Cincinnati Digital Academy offers a K–12 curriculum which includes both virtual time with teachers and digital classroom lessons.
We are glad to have this option already in our portfolio of choices for our CPS families, as many districts are working to quickly launch a fully online option. We are spending the summer enhancing the curriculum and ensuring that we are prepared for a potential increase in enrollment.
Importantly, students who enroll in Cincinnati Digital Academy for the upcoming academic year will be able retain their position in their current CPS school for the following year. Families can also make this choice on a semester-by-semester basis. We encourage families who are interested in an existing, accredited fully-remote option to explore our Digital Academy.
If you’re considering this option, please complete our interest form and a Cincinnati Digital Academy representative will contact you.
3. The ability to quickly flex to remote learning.
Throughout both the summer and academic year, we will continue to follow guidance from Governor DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Board of Education and the Hamilton County Health Department regarding the overall health and transmission risk within our state and the community. We are prepared to transition to a completely remote environment should that be necessary.
It’s important to note that current CDC guidance recommends schools close for two to five days for deep cleaning and monitoring of symptoms in the event of a confirmed case. Although we are currently making final decisions about when and for how long schools might close in the event of an outbreak, we all need to be prepared to make this transition quickly and smoothly.
We learned a lot during the state closure, and we also received feedback from parents and staff about how to improve the experience. As a result, remote learning will look much different than it did in the spring, including:
- Detailed requirements in place to ensure a consistent remote learning experience,
- Clear communication for students and families,
- Access to technology and Wi-Fi, and
- More robust paper packets connected to specific curriculum.
Health and Safety Protocols
We understand any return-to-school plan presents risks. For this reason, we are partnering with Cincinnati Children's Hospital to develop health and safety protocols that help protect our employees, students and families as much as possible.
These processes will be based on guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and any state direction that is provided in the next several weeks. We will be able to share specifics later this summer, and expect these protocols to include:
- Rigorous prevention techniques, including at-home and in-school health assessments, temperature checks, and staff and student mask-wearing; and
- Quick decision, communication, and, as necessary, isolation protocols in response to confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Access to Technology
Regardless of whether we are in-class or learning remotely, technology and internet access are essential tools for our students. Digital disparities between households is one of the greatest sources of inequity in our district. This is why we are expanding our 1:1 device program, and children grades 2–12 will have a take-home device that is safe and includes the tools needed to work from home.In addition, we are incredibly grateful to be a part of the Cincinnati Bell "Connect Our Students" program, with support from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and other partners. This program will give all CPS students free access to Wi-Fi, and is currently in a pilot phase through July with five of our schools, Rockdale Academy, South Avondale School, Hays-Porter Elementary School, Roberts Academy and Fairview-Clifton German Language School. We expect to be able to launch the full program prior to the start of school. Please visit our website for more details.
Please Update Your Contact Information
One of the most critical steps you can take today is to ensure your home address, phone and email are updated. Please call your school office; or Customer Care at (513) 363-0123 or email Customer Care to do so. This information is necessary to ensure all families receive updates this summer, including confirming eligibility for free internet connectivity, a survey about whether or not you intend to return your child to an in-person classroom, important by-school details and safety protocols, and transportation.
Upcoming Key Dates
|Launch of Cincinnati Bell 5-school pilot program||Cincinnati Bell Wi-Fi connectivity program|
|Parents and guardians update contact information for future communications||Employee Return-to-School meeting|
|Survey for parents to understand plans to return children to school||State of the Schools, including details about returning to school|
|Employee meetings||Technology and safety workshops for parents|
|Safety protocols finalized in partnership with Cincinnati Children's Hospital||Technology and safety workshops for students|
|Detailed planning by school|
|Devices distributed to students without technology|
|Enrollment deadline of July 17 to help ensure transportation for those who qualify|
The Future is Now
While the 2020–2021 school year will be different, it creates new opportunities for us to be more innovative and flexible than ever. And through it all, our commitment will remain the same, preparing our students for life through academic achievement, personal well-being and career readiness. We will come out of this together stronger and better than ever. Thank you for your support along the way.