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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

JulyAugust
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.

Sincerely,


Laura Mitchell
Superintendent

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Staff FAQs

CPS Answers Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

At Cincinnati Public Schools, the health and safety of our students and staff are top priorities. We are in frequent contact with the Cincinnati Health Department, which is monitoring the COVID-19 situation with the Ohio Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here for answers to questions you might get from parents.

Employee Daily Health Assessment — Must be filled out before entering any CPS building

FAQ Update May 29, 2020

What happens if a CPS employee becomes ill with Covid-19-related symptoms?

CPS' Environmental Health and Safety Office is providing guidance and protocols for supervisors and employees about reporting COVID-19-related illness and returning to work. The information is based on guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control, and the Ohio and Cincinnati health departments. 

Employees must be signed in to their CPS Google accounts to access these required documents.


FAQ Update May 27, 2020

When do CPS school offices reopen?

Starting June 1, school office staffs will return to Cincinnati Public Schools' buildings. No non-staff visitors will be allowed inside schools until June 15.

Elementary schools will open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

High schools and K-12 buildings will open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Starting June 15, parents wanting to register students, or needing other assistance from school office staffs, will be allowed to visit school offices.

To promote safe work environments and a healthy workforce, the following safety guidelines must be followed:

  • Staff should not enter a CPS building unless permission has been received from, or staff has been instructed by, supervisors.
  • Employees are required to do the self-reporting health assessment before entering any CPS building.  
  • All employees and visitors must wear face masks while inside.
  • Social distancing requires sitting and standing a minimum 6 feet apart.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Clean and sanitize personal work areas throughout the day.

FAQ Update May 19, 2020

Details About the Re-Opening CPS' Education Center

May I continue to work from home?

Yes, CPS is requiring all employees who are able to continue working remotely to do so as much as possible. Managers will connect with employees and provide remote work assignments.

Do I have to wear a face mask or face covering while at work inside a CPS building?

All CPS employees reporting in person to work will be required to wear face masks or face coverings while on site. Employees should provide their own face coverings. 

Visitors to CPS buildings also will be required to wear face coverings.

What is the process to enter the Education Center?

Before entering the Education Center, or any CPS building, employees will be required to do a health assessment to confirm three questions (see below), including whether they have a fever over 100.4. This information must be noted on a confidential sign-in sheet. Employees will not be allowed to enter the building if they answer YES to any of the three questions.

CPS will have an infrared thermometer available at the building entrance if an employee does not have a thermometer available at home. 

For each day an employee reports to a CPS building, the employee must complete the daily health assessment before arriving. (Employees will use their CPS Google accounts to access this form; contact the ITM Help Desk for assistance with your Google account.)

What three questions must employees answer before entering a CPS building?

CPS employees should become familiar with these questions and take them seriously when evaluating whether they are fit to enter a CPS building.

  1. Have you had any signs or symptoms of a fever in the past 24 hours, such as chills, sweating, felt "feverish" or had a temperature that is elevated for you (or 100.4 F or greater)?
  2. Do you have any ONE of these symptoms? Cough or Shortness of breath /chest tightness
    Or TWO OR MORE of these symptoms? Headache; Sore throat; Chills; Myalgia (body aches); Body shakes; New loss of taste and/or smell
  3. Have you been in contact within the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19?

What if I can't continue to work?

There are several leave options available for CPS employees who are sick; caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19; caring for a child if schools or day care centers are closed; or if an employee, or a member of an employee's household, is in a designated vulnerable population. 

Summary of Leave Options for CPS Employees Unable to Work

How will employees maintain social distancing inside the Education Center?

The goal is to have, at the most, only half of a department’s employees working inside the building at the same time. This will be accomplished with per-department staggered scheduling. 

Social distancing — people sitting or standing a minimum of 6 feet apart — will be required in all departments. One-way hallways will be designated. Large gathering spaces, such as the eat-in cafeteria, will be closed or tables removed to reduce the number of people who can gather. 

In high contact areas, such as the Customer Care Center and Employee Care Center, hand-sanitizer pumps, plastic barriers, 6-foot marked floor spaces and staggered visitor entry will be in place.

Will I be expected to clean my desk and work area? 

Yes, employees will be asked to disinfect their personal workspaces. 

Will CPS provide cleaning supplies?

Yes, disinfecting products will be provided for each work area.

Will there be additional cleaning of the building? 

Disinfecting will be done daily. There will be more frequent disinfecting of high-contact service areas at the security desk, Customer Care Center, Employee Care Center, the LaunchEd reception desk, restrooms and the front doors of the Education Center.

Will the Ed Center cafeteria be open? 

Yes, but it will operate under the same rules as other Ohio restaurants, beginning with the rule to provide take-out food only (until full service is permitted).

Will restrooms be monitored to prevent overcrowding?

Signs will be posted about maintaining social distancing.  

Will video conferencing take the place of face-to-face meetings inside the Ed Center?

Video conferencing is still the preference; however, if small group meetings are necessary, participants should practice social distancing and wear face masks.


FAQ Update April 10, 2020

I've heard there are problems with Zoom Video Conferencing — should I use it to connect with my students?

Starting April 13, 2020, Cincinnati Public Schools is prohibiting the use of Zoom due to severe security issues that have been discovered. The FBI is investigating reports of uninvited people joining Zoom video conferences and inserting inappropriate photos and material.

CPS supports the use of Google Meet and BlueJeans for video conferencing.


How is CPS communicating with its employees?

CPS communicates important information to its employees frequently, via email, phone calls and mail. Employees should make sure their personal contact information is correct in BusinessPlus. To update this information, including listing an emergency contact, log into the Employee Portal, click on Menu at the top left corner, then click on Personal Information.

Will CPS staff be paid during the COVID-19 closure?

CPS Work-Pay Chart for COVID-19 Closure

Who can help me with a paycheck issue?

CPS' Treasurer’s Office can be contacted two ways:

  • Call (513) 363-0496 to leave voicemail messages any time. The line is monitored and calls will be returned.
  • Call (513) 680-9690 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays to talk to someone live.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus — now named COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) — is a new version of a common virus. It was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and now has spread worldwide.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms include respiratory illness with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death.

What can I do to help prevent getting sick?

The Ohio Department of Health and the Cincinnati Health Department recommend these precautions to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Wash your hands often for 20 seconds or more with soapy water.
  • If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer — an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol is best; rub it on hands until the sanitizer dries. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing to help stop the spread of airborne germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to keep germs from entering. 
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick (except to visit health-care professionals) and avoid contact with others.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals.

Seek medical advice from a health-care professional before initiating self-quarantine.

I'm having computer trouble while working at home. Who can help me?

Call the ITM Help Desk, (513) 363-0390. Or send a detailed email to the Help Desk.
 
Calls are not being answered live, so follow the prompts (select Option 1 for software, hardware and VPN support), give your contact information and someone will get back to you by phone or email.

How can I help spread some good news during this unprecedented school closure? 

Use the hashtag #CPSUnited on social media to help us spread good vibes. For example, tell us about any fun activities you and your family are doing to keep boredom away, or acts of kindness you’ve witnessed from your friends and neighbors.

Is CPS providing meals for our students while schools are closed?

We will continue to provide breakfast and lunch meals during the extended break. We want to ensure that children continue to have access to healthy meals. Cincinnati Public Schools' Student Dining Services Department is distributing meals at 24 school sites located around the district. 

Click here for a list of sites, dates and hours of meal distribution, and additional information.  

How can I help CPS help our students?

CPS is collecting donations of hygiene items, educational activity packets and non-perishable food items through the Care and Collaborate for Cincinnati initiative, which will give items to families at the meal-distribution sites.

To donate money so CPS can purchase the items, write a check to Cincinnati Public Schools, and mail it to Cincinnati Public Schools, Attention: Care & Collaborate, P.O. Box 5381, Cincinnati, OH 45201-5381.

For information about a non-monetary donation, contact Ricky Miller in CPS' Athletic Department

News Public Affairs Department

Office of Communications and Engagement

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

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Cincinnati Health Dept. Hotline
(513) 357-7462

Ohio Dept. of Health
COVID-19 Call Center
(833) 4-ASK-ODH
(833) 427-5634
9 a.m. - 8 p.m.