COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Columbus City School District announced Friday that students would remain in a remote learning model until at least February.

In a weekly statement from Superintendent and CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon, the earliest student would return to in-person instruction would be Feb. 1 for a blended learning model (two days in class, three days virtual).

In the statement, Dixon said this would include students in the Career and Technical Education programs at Columbus Downtown High School and the Fort Hayes Career Center.

According to Dixon, one of the main reasons for keeping students remote has to do with transportation issues. Dixon said the district is facing a bus driver shortage, stating it has 150 fewer drivers than it did in March. Second, due to public health guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer students are allowed on each bus, limiting capacity.

Dixon said the district has contacted parents with a two-question transportation survey to help alleviate some of the transportation issues, asking parents if they wish to “opt out” of taking the bus to school.

In addition, all in-person athletic and extracurricular activities remain suspended until Jan. 2.

Dixon’s full statement is below:

Season’s Greetings CCS Community,

As we prepare to end this year like none other, we are all due a well-deserved holiday break and reason to celebrate. I hope you will take this time to rest, perhaps step away from your computer, and most of all, take care of yourself and your loved ones.

I am proud of how our CCS family has continued to rise up this fall to educate and support our students and their families. Your generosity and continued efforts to achieve excellence on behalf of our students have not gone unnoticed, even in spite of this global pandemic. 

I wish everyone in our CCS community a restful, enjoyable, and safe holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year!

City/County Stay at Home Advisory

Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health have extended the current Stay at Home Advisory until January 2, 2021. The Stay at Home Advisory, which began on November 20, was extended due to high COVID-19 case numbers and community spread and coincides with the Governor’s 10 p.m. curfew.

As we celebrate the holiday season, please stay safe and follow the guidance and recommendations of our public health officials to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community:

– Residents are advised to stay at home to the greatest extent possible and only to leave home to go to work or school or for essential needs such as medical care, groceries, medicine, and food pick up.

– Residents also are strongly advised not to have any guests in their homes unless they are essential workers, including for the holidays. 

– Residents are urged to limit meetings and social events to 10 individuals both indoors and outside.

Winter Sports and In-Person Activities

In accordance with the continuation of the Stay at Home Advisory, Columbus City Schools has extended the suspension of all in-person athletic and extracurricular activities until January 2, 2021.

Second Semester Learning Model

As I know that many of you are awaiting an update on our plans for the second semester, which begins on January 20, here’s what I can share at this time. 

Our earliest target date for students to return to their school buildings in a blended learning model (two days in school and three days at home per week) is Monday, February 1. 

This includes students in our Career and Technical Education programs at Columbus Downtown High School and the Fort Hayes Career Center. All CCS students will learn remotely through the end of January. 

We expect to have a final decision in mid-January. The February 1 date is tentative as we continue to monitor public health data and work diligently to solve logistical issues that limit our ability to bring all students back to school buildings safely.

One of the most significant issues we are working on is transportation. Our busing capacity is limited due to two reasons. 

First, there is a national shortage of bus drivers, and like many other districts, CCS is not immune to this issue. Although we are actively recruiting to hire more drivers, we have approximately 150 fewer bus drivers on staff than we did in March. 

Second, due to public health guidance on how to most safely transport students, we are limited to one student per seat on a bus. This reduces the capacity of a typical school bus from more than 60 riders to just 21.

In a typical school year, we transport nearly 40,000 students daily to CCS, charter, and non-public schools across the city. To gauge how many of these students do not require transportation services, we recently sent out a survey to families of students who are eligible for transportation. We are asking families if they wish to “opt-out” their students from receiving yellow-bus transportation for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. 

The more information we have about families who do not wish to use our transportation services, the more efficient we can be in providing services to schools city-wide. If you have not already, I encourage you to take the brief, two-question survey via the Parent Portal. 

I will have more information to share with you when we return from winter break. Until that time, I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Talisa Dixon, Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools

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