Cincinnati Public Schools

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 programCincinnati Bell Wi-Fi connectivity program
Parents and guardians update contact information for future communicationsEmployee Return-to-School meeting
Survey for parents to understand plans to return children to schoolState of the Schools, including details about returning to school
Employee meetingsTechnology and safety workshops for parents
Safety protocols finalized in partnership with Cincinnati Children's HospitalTechnology 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 

Summer Communication Timeline

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.


Laura Mitchell

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Enrollment Guidelines

Student Registration

It's simple — and it's online!

Cincinnati Public Schools uses an online system to register students.

The online system simplifies and streamlines the process of enrolling children in CPS. Parents, or legal guardians, first must register a child using the online system; after all required documents are uploaded, staff will finalize the registration and enroll the child.

Online Student Registration

Paper form (if online access is unavailable): Student Registration Information Form

Cincinnati Public Schools educates children in preschool through 12th grade:  

  • Neighborhood Elementary Schools — (grades K–6 and K–8; preschool at most) Assigned to a child based on the child's home address
  • Magnet Elementary Schools — (grades K–6 and K–8; preschool at most)  Selected by parents via online lottery application 
  • Neighborhood Schools with Magnet Programs (grades K–6 and K–8; preschool at most)  Neighborhood program assigned by child's home address; Magnet program selected by parents via online lottery 
  • High Schools — (grades 7–12)  Selected by students and parents via online lottery application (and paper application for upper grades) 
  • Combination Schools — (grades K–12, 3–10) — Cincinnati Digital Academy, Oyler School, Riverview East Academy, Spencer Center for Gifted and Exceptional Children (3–10) and School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) — Entrance by various ways depending on the school

Some Cincinnati Public Schools have entrance requirements, such as an academic entrance exam at Walnut Hills High School and auditions for SCPA's upper grades.


Only a parent or legal guardian may register a child in school. (A legal guardian must present documentation, such as custody granted by a court or accredited agency.)

Several documents are required to register a child into Cincinnati Public Schools.

Neighborhood Elementary Schools

Neighborhood elementary schools are the foundation of Cincinnati Public Schools, serving as Community Learning Centers and neighborhood anchors, and are the main entry points for most students into elementary school. A child is assigned to a neighborhood school based on the child's home address. All students not enrolled in magnet programs are enrolled in neighborhood schools.

To apply to a neighborhood school that is not the child's assigned neighborhood school, see Board Policy No. 5120.

More on Neighborhood School Registration

Preschool Registration

Preschool Registration — for both magnet and neighborhood schools — is handled only at three hub schools located around the Cincinnati Public School District.

Kindergarten Guidelines 

Cincinnati Public Schools has a long history of offering all-day kindergarten in all elementary schools. 

Children must be age 5 by September 30 to enter kindergarten. Ohio law requires that children attend kindergarten prior to entering first grade. Parents should follow the registration guidelines for Neighborhood Schools and Magnet School Enrollment.

Early Entrance to Kindergarten: Younger children who turn age 5 between October 1 and December 31 may enter kindergarten only after passing a test that determines a child's readiness for school. 

Students with birthdays after December 31 will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Procedures for Early Entrance Evaluation

Early Entrance Evaluation application packets are available at neighborhood elementary schools, or download the packet here (PDF - 4 pages). Proof of the child's birth and proof of the child’s home address must be provided with the packet.

The completed and signed Early Entrance Application packet and required documents should be returned to the district’s lead psychologist's office at CPS' Education Center, Department of Student Services, 2651 Burnet Ave., 45219 (or turn the packet in to the school's principal).

Information on testing for early kindergarten entrance: CPS' Student Services Department — (513) 363-3251

First Grade Guidelines

Children who turn six prior to September 30 should be enrolled in first grade for that year; children who turn six after September 30 will be enrolled for the following year. 

Parents should follow the registration Guidelines for Neighborhood Schools and Magnet School Enrollment.

Early Entrance to First Grade

Early Entrance to first grade may be available for a child whose sixth birthday falls on or between October 1 and December 31 of the Early Entrance year. It also may be considered for a six-year-old child who has not had a kindergarten experience by a request to the district's Pupil Personnel Services committee consisting of a school principal, school psychologist and a grade-level teacher. 

First-Grade Early Entrance Guidelines

First-Grade Early Entrance Application Form


Magnet Elementary Schools

Parents must apply via an online lottery for their child to enter a magnet school or program. Applications to magnet schools are made a school year ahead via an online lottery application process. 

More on Magnet Elementary Application

Magnet Schools by Academic Program

High Schools 

High School applications to grades 7, 8 and 9 are submitted online, and seats are awarded via lottery. Students in grades 10, 11 and 12 apply in person at the high school of their choosing.

More on High School Application

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment allows students who live outside the boundaries of the Cincinnati Public School District — but in the state of Ohio — to enroll in CPS schools without paying tuition. Priority always is given to students who live within the CPS boundaries. Applications to the open-enrollment lottery are submitted May 1-31. 

Students applying under Open Enrollment must meet any acceptance criteria required by a CPS school. 

Transferring In

If a child is transferring from another school within the Cincinnati Public School District (including charter, private or parochial), the parent/guardian will be asked to provide:

The parent/guardian must complete CPS' Student Registration Information Form.


If the student is returning from outside the Cincinnati Public School District to the same school in the same school year, the parent/guardian must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of residency
  • Final report card of last school attended
  • Verification of kindergarten attendance, if entering first grade

The parent/guardian should review the CPS' Student Registration Information Packet to update any incorrect information.

Leaving the District

If a student is leaving Cincinnati Public Schools, the parent/guardian should come to the school and fill out a withdrawal form

Each school is responsible for maintaining individual student's records. Parents and guardians must keep school records up to date by:

  • Providing accurate information supported by legal or required documents.
  • Telling the school of changes in address and other information.

Student Fees

Cincinnati Public Schools collects student fees annually. The money is used to pay part of the cost of essential classroom materials.

  • Students fees are based on a family's income and the number of children in the family who are enrolled in Cincinnati Public Schools.  
  • If a student's family income qualifies for the federal Free or Reduced-price Lunch program, student fees may be waived or reduced, but families must fill out the form each school year.
  • A separate Student Fee Form must be filled out for each child.

Payments are accepted in cash (exact amount only), online at PayForIt.net, by money order or certified checks. (No personal checks accepted.)
Student fees can be paid online with Visa or MasterCard credit cards, or a checking account.

Student Fees form and online payment option

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