COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio’s largest school district is making sweeping changes when it comes to planning for the next school year and what re-opening will look like.
A recommendation on masking and other COVID-19 mitigations were presented Tuesday to the Columbus City Schools Board.
The recommendations are changing based on federal, state, and local orders changing within the last few weeks, and it will be up to the district what policies stay or are let go.
Columbus City Schools is eyeing a “normal’ look to school for the 2021-2022 school year. The district’s re-opening team offered some recommendations Tuesday.
“We eliminate the pandemic requirements for masks, social distancing, sneezeguards, and COVID restrictions for our lunchrooms, restrooms, and staff break rooms,” said district deputy superintendent John Stanford. “It is our recommendation to permit masks, but they not be required.”
Sneezeguards will remain on site if needed.
COVID policies that will remain in place include contact tracing, family notification of a positive case, as well as the COVID-19 surveillance system.
Like this past spring when the district began hybrid learning, transportation remains a top concern. Students remained in a blended learning model for the last portion of this past school year because of transportation issues, and even though policies inside school buildings is changing, transportation remains a challenge.
The re-opening team said it does not have enough drivers to do a full route system, and is instead looking at a new option.
“Columbus City School children K-8, non-public children K-8 on a yellow school bus,” said transportation director Rob Weinheimer. “High schoolers 9-12 for both public and charter non-public students on COTA.”
Transportation is looking at an agreement with COTA, but there would be an approximate cost of $5 million.
“As we prepare for the next school year, this need to be nimble in our planning has not changed,” said Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon. “It is our intention to safely open our schools five days a week for in-person learning for the next school year.”
The district also plans to have a full fall sports season, non-sports activities, and student clubs. Spectators for these events will be allowed as well.
The superintendent’s re-opening plan is not something the school board votes on, but the transportation service model will have to be approved by the board.
The final transportation recommendation from the committee is expected June 29.
Columbus City School Board also adopted a resolution for the completion of makeup days.
It’s regarding Calamity Days and how to offer instruction.
School could be closed because of weather, transporation, or building issues, or an epidemic.
The board voted on a plan that would allow staff to create lessons that could be completed online or with a “blizzard bag,” which would contain paper materials. The lessons would be done at home and due within two weeks for a grade.
The plan would allow staff to create plans for three school days to meet instructional time for any Calamity Days.