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Back to School FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about school operations during the 2020–21 school year. 

Read CPS' District Safety Plan

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I have questions not addressed here — who can help me?

Your child's school office and our Customer Care Center team are available to answer your questions. Customer Care Center: (513) 363-0123 or email.

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How can I update my address and phone numbers so I receive all necessary information from my child's school and Cincinnati Public Schools?

Please update your family's contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers) by calling or visiting your child’s school. Or, contact CPS' Customer Care Center: email or phone - (513) 363-0123

In-Person Learning Begins Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cincinnati Public Schools' Board of Education voted this evening to return CPS' students to five-day per week in-person learning after spring break, beginning Wednesday, March 31.

Walnut Hills High School will also return to five-days per week in-person and will follow a phased-in approach: students in grades 7-9 returning Wednesday, March 31, and grades 10-12 Tuesday, April 6. A Parent Town Hall meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18. (Meeting information has been communicated by Principal Chambers. For questions, please reach out to the school.)

Families who prefer five-day per week distance learning may choose to remain at their current school, or enroll in Cincinnati Digital Academy (CDA). Since Walnut Hills High School has been in distance learning the entire year, they will be part of a concurrent learning pilot program, which provides an option for five-day per week distance learning following a student's current schedule. Details on this pilot will be provided to families by the school.

Why was the decision made to return in person?

  • We are using essential strategies that decrease the risk of spread within school environments, and we know these strategies are working because there is limited transmission within schools. Protocols include:
    • Universal masking
    • Hand and bathroom hygiene
    • Achieving 4–6 air changes per hour of "clean" air through any combination of ventilation and filtration (or outdoor classrooms)
    • Physical distancing, 6-feet where possible
    • Isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing practices
    • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
  • The community health data is improving:
    • New positive cases per 100,000: 12.3
    • City of Cincinnati positivity rate: 4.6 percent
    • Hamilton County outside of Cincinnati positivity rate: 5.5 percent
  • Sixty-nine percent of teachers and staff have been fully vaccinated.
  • Our recent survey indicated that the majority of parents and staff preferred increasing in-person instruction time this school year, and we continue to offer choices for those families who prefer a distance learning option.

What does this mean for families?

  • Spring break will be extended by a day for students, through March 30, so teachers can prepare their classrooms.
  • On March 31, Students will begin either five-day per week in-person learning or five-day per week distance learning at their current school. Students may choose to enroll in Cincinnati Digital Academy.
  • If you wish to choose the five-day per week remote option from your current school, please notify the school office by March 22.
  • Walnut Hills High School will also return to five-days per week in-person and will follow a phased-in approach: students in grades 7-9 returning Wednesday, March 31, and grades 10-12 Tuesday, April 6. A Parent Town Hall meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18. (Meeting information has been communicated by Principal Chambers. For questions, please reach out to the school.)
  • We expect to open the concurrent learning option to remaining schools in the 2021–2022 school year. An optioning form will be sent to families in April to make their choice for the fall semester.

What will social distancing look like when students return?

In classrooms, there will be a minimum of 3 feet, but using the maximum space available to strive for closer to 6 feet where possible. Schools will continue to follow all safety protocols. 

Buses could be two students per seat, and students must remain masked. 

Hallways will have one-way direction lanes and one-way staircases with adult supervision during class changes to remind students to move quickly and allow as much distancing as possible. Hallway signage will serve as visible reminders, and additional time will be given to students to travel between classes to ensure one-way direction lanes can be followed. Depending on the size of the school, it may not be possible to ensure 3ft distancing during the time of class changes, so other safety measures such as masks will be strictly enforced.

What will meal times look like?

Each school will come up with its own plan with dining services for meal times. There will be the maximum spacing of students when their masks are off, getting as close to 6 feet of social distance as possible.

Schools may use strategies that include a combination of classrooms and cafeterias for eating spaces along with the possibility of outside eating and using gym areas, as well as staggered meal times. 

My family would like to remain in distance learning. What are our options?

Families who prefer five-day per week distance learning may choose to remain at their current school, or enroll in Cincinnati Digital Academy (CDA).

If you wish to choose the five-day per week remote option from your current school, please notify the school office by March 22.

Since Walnut Hills High School has been in distance learning the entire year, they will be part of a concurrent learning pilot program, which provides an option for five-day per week distance learning following a student's current schedule. Details on this pilot will be provided to families by the school.

Will there be a graduation this year?

The CPS class of 2021 will be donning their graduation caps and gowns at in-person ceremonies. Plans are taking shape but details are still unfolding as school districts across Ohio await guidance from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

When will concurrent learning be available to all students?

We continue to upgrade our infrastructure and are excited to offer a concurrent learning option for all interested families during the 2021–2022 school year. Concurrent learning means students may stay at their current school for either five-day per week in-person learning or a five-day per week distance learning experience that mirrors the in-person classroom experience. 

Will students be able to use lockers when they return?

Each school developed hallway/locker procedures as part of their safety plan, so each school may have different locker procedures.

Will we be getting more desk protectors for each student?

Yes, schools are receiving additional desktop barriers this week.

What if my CPS-issued device is not working?

During spring break, March 22–30, families experiencing device issues should contact the Family Technology Support Desk or call (513) 363-0688. They will be directed to a school to swap out if needed.

With the return of five-day, in-person instruction on March 31, CPS is returning to normal operations for device swaps. Students will report device issues when they are at school and be provided a device on site to trade.

What ventilation updates have been implemented?

CPS is following the guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioners Engineers (ASHRAE). This includes:

  • Six air exchanges/hour/space
  • Two-hour building flush out prior to occupancy every day
  • Increase air filtration to as high as possible without significantly diminishing design airflow
  • Confirm proper filter fit to minimize filter bypass
  • Confirm all exhaust fans are working properly
  • COVID + Procedures in place and tested
  • Filter changes as recommended by equipment manufacturers or quarterly
  • Monthly filter inspections documented by Building Engineers and confirmed by Supervisors

What are the bus safety protocols?

Masks are still required at all times on buses, however social distancing on buses may be reduced. Yellow buses could be two students per seat. Yellow buses and Metro buses are disinfected on a regular basis. Metro buses provide hand sanitizing stations on board. 

How will arrival and dismissal be handled?

For bus riders, car riders, and walkers, arrival times will be staggered this year to avoid large congregations of students as they are entering the school. The specifics of your school arrival window will be shared later.

Upon arriving to school: 

  • All staff and students must wear a mask, unless there is an underlying medical condition or disability.
  • All staff and students will receive a temperature check prior to the start of the school day.
  • All members of the school community are expected to take into consideration the health and well-being of all individuals. Parents should never knowingly send their child to school with a suspected illness.
  • Anyone with the following symptoms should stay home:  fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. (COVID-19 symptoms can be similar to a cold or allergies; until a COVID-19 test is given, it is difficult to tell the difference, and decisions should be made with an abundance of caution.)   

Dismissal will be staggered this year to avoid large congregations of students as they are leaving school.

Will buses be cleaned?

School buses will be disinfected daily.

While riding yellow buses and Metro buses, students should wear a mask (cloth face covering) and keep as far apart as possible in seats and aisles.

On yellow buses, seats will be assigned two students per seat. (With the priority of siblings sitting together). Bus monitors will be on board yellow buses to help students follow these new safety procedures.

Because buses are smaller, enclosed spaces, they create additional risk even with safety precautions in place. We encourage parents and guardians who can drive their children to and from school to do so.

Parents can contact Metro at (513) 632-7528 or email for Metro bus route information.

Will we continue to do temperature screenings at morning arrival? 

Yes, aside from the minimum 6' distancing, all other safety protocols will remain the same and are listed in the District Safety Plan.

Will we continue to isolate students with symptoms? Will nurses be able to test students for COVID-19 if the parent has consented?

Yes, aside from the minimum 6' distancing, all other safety protocols will remain the same and are listed in the District Safety Plan.

What will be the quarantine process?

The quarantine process will remain the same. Upon a confirmed case in a school, the health department will conduct contact tracing to determine if there were close contacts that need to quarantine. This communication will be coordinated through the school nurse.

What about sports - how is CPS keeping people safe?

For the safety of our students and audiences at games, Cincinnati Public Schools has set the following safety rules:

  • Games will be live streamed.
  • Only members of the news media and college coaches with credentials for recruitment purposes are permitted to attend games.  
  • Wearing face masks is required at all times during games for coaches and all others in attendance. 
  • Student athletes must have their face masks on whenever they are not actively participating in the game. 

News Public Affairs Department

Office of Communications and Engagement

Email: media@cps-k12.org
Phone: (513) 363-0020

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