Dear Bulldog Families:
Thank you for your ongoing patience and support as we have continued to carefully monitor and evaluate COVID-19 spread within the community as well as its impact on our staffing levels and capacity to have our buildings open. There are multiple factors we have been considering in order to make a determination about our instructional model for the next two weeks of school remaining between now and winter break. We understand these decisions have a significant impact on our students and their families, and we truly appreciate your patience and support.
At this time, the decision has been made for Olmsted Falls City Schools to return to the HYBRID model beginning Monday, December 7th through December 18th, which will take us to the start of winter break. Kindergarten students will maintain their schedule as will our students who receive services in our Moderate-Intensive Special Needs Programs. All other students who are on the in-person school pathway will follow their respective Blue or Gold schedules. These are the same ones that they’ve followed for the majority of the year. Any needed updates from the building levels will be forthcoming from principals.
Why was this decision made?
The decision to return to the Hybrid Model of instruction was made with the consideration of several pieces of guidance from health organizations like the Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics, the Olmsted Falls Board of Education, the administration and staff, data and discussions with other school district superintendents.
The district elected to go to remote eLearning due to the number of people who were in quarantine due to testing positive for COVID-19 or in quarantine because of exposure. On 11/24/2020, there were 266 students and 53 staff members in quarantine. Thirty of which were members of the teaching staff. As of 12/3/2020, there are 48 students in quarantine (43 HS students) and 22 staff members (10 of which are teachers). Might these numbers change? Yes, that could happen, however at the time when the decision needs to be made, it appears that we are able to adequately staff our buildings through December 18, 2020.
Aren’t you worried about spread in the community?
Dr. Redfield from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reiterated advocacy for in-person learning and cited evidence that schools aren’t a major source of COVID-19 transmission. While our district has had its share of positive cases of COVID-19, the virus is generally not spread in schools due to strict protocols. It is spread when school isn’t in session and through smaller gatherings where people socialize and let their guard down. Thus far we’ve been able to operate within a face-to-face learning environment that has been safe and responsible. Within a Hybrid Model, we are able to mitigate spread by continuing to maintain distancing rules and have facial coverings.
As the Superintendent, what are some of your concerns that led to going to Hybrid?
While the health of our students and staff remains an on-going concern, others include:
- Student learning regression is becoming very real because of lost instructional time. This is a reason to keep schools open.
- Students remaining engaged when they are not physically in classrooms is a reason to try to keep schools open.
- The many challenges of having students away from school is a challenge for families.
- I am concerned about the decline in mental health of all students, but especially those in the upper grades when they are away from school.
Is there anything that could happen over the next 2 weeks that would push us back into eLearning for all? Unfortunately, “yes” is the answer.
- In order to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, I would advise families to have a backup plan in place in order to respond to a shut down that could be triggered by our county entering a Level 4 (Purple) COVID Advisory.
- The second issue that could potentially send us back to remote is staff illness. Not having our teachers available to teach our kids could potentially push us into remote eLearning.
Will the district remain open in some form on 1/4/2021 and thereafter?
- We will need to consider our local data prior to 1/4/2021 in order to determine what instructional model we will be in. The plan is to continue in our hybrid model until such time that we are able to return to school even more. Our desire is not to keep people on edge and change our instructional models every few weeks. Our students benefit from consistency, however given this current stage, we are not able to make long-term decisions because the data may force us elsewhere.
- Our goal has always been to be safely opened. We respectfully ask that everyone please continue to report any positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff in as timely a manner as possible over the course of the next two weeks AND throughout the duration of the scheduled winter break. Between now and December 18th, you may either call the building office directly to report or email the building principal. Once winter break begins on December 19th, we’d ask that you email the building principal directly since the building offices will be closed.
We ask that everyone please continue to follow recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Wear a mask when out in public, wash/sanitize your hands frequently, and practice social distancing. If you are sick or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, avoid being around others.
We will plan to email all OFCS families by Wednesday, December 30th with an update of plans for how school will resume following winter break on January 4th. I understand that it is frustrating to not have a definitive long-term plan for which instructional model our district will operate in.
Keeping you informed and updated continues to be a top priority and I thank you for your time, attention and continuing support.
Dr. Jim Lloyd
Superintendent for the Olmsted Falls City School District
26937 Bagley Rd.
Olmsted Township, OH 44138