Dear Bulldog Families,
Last evening, Thursday, August 13, 2020, the Olmsted Falls City Schools Board of Education met and approved my recommendation to start the 2020-2021 school year in full remote learning beginning Tuesday, September 8. The Board also approved a recommendation to allow for extracurricular programming and athletics to continue to move forward at this point. For your reference, a summary of the recommendations that were made are included at the bottom of this email. Additionally, the rationale for these recommendations can be found here.
We all wish “normal” to be back, but we’re faced with a very large challenge at this time. Further, there’s nothing we want more than to have children return to our buildings and our classrooms full time. We feel strongly that we must follow the current recommendations of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, in particular the data regarding the positivity rates in the area, the number of new cases in Cuyahoga County and the inability to test kids. In recent days, the CCBoH has reported a lower positivity rate and a decrease in the number of cases. Recent data provides us with encouraging news, and we will continue to keep an eye on these numbers in hopes that we will be able to shift from our remote learning model to an in-person model sooner rather than later.
We are still hopeful that in-person learning will happen this year, but that decision will be based on what the public health data tells us. Our plan is built for maximum fluidity and flexibility and will allow for us to pivot from a remote model to an in-person one. If we do see an improvement in these data trends and it allows for in-person learning, we will act accordingly. It will likely mean we can begin a hybrid mode of schooling. We are working directly with the health department and will monitor these trends weekly.
Remote learning for the upcoming school year will look very different from last year when our schools had to close abruptly with little notice. OFCS has created an enhanced remote learning environment based on feedback from staff and families. Soon, principals and staff will be reaching out to families with the details on how we will conduct remote learning.
Regarding extracurricular activities and athletics, there’s been a lot of conflicting recommendations at the state and local levels on whether or not to continue with extracurriculars. Based on experience with practices and training over the summer, I believe getting our athletes back on the field, in a safe and responsible way, and paving the way for other extracurricular activities to proceed across the district, in a safe and responsible way, is in their best interest from both an athletic and a social emotional perspective. Continuing with extracurriculars allows us to provide enhanced connections among students and their teachers, advisors and coaches. At this time, our fall athletic programs are either well into their seasons (non-contact sports) or are practicing and training (contact sports) in order to begin their OHSAA season, and our band camp is also officially underway. The programs have established protocols and guidelines set forth by the OHSAA and with guidance from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. The coaches, directors and participating students have been well prepared and well informed to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus.
Sometime later today, we will push out the overall reopening plan for OFCS which will guide us through the coming weeks and months ahead. OFCS families will receive the formal reopening plan via email and it will also be accessible on our district website. Families will be asked to choose a pathway for their students as it relates to their preference for in-person (when possible) vs. a 100% remote learning model by Friday, August 21st. An individualized response form for each student will be provided.
I want to thank our community for helping us come up with our 2020 back to school plans. Thank you for providing us with feedback on our surveys and our community and staff-led committees that provided input on our planning. We also appreciate and value the many parents who reached out directly via email and by phone to share their feedback, thoughts and concerns, as well as those who spoke at our recent series of Board meetings. We knew it would be impossible to meet everyone’s specific needs, but please know that we tried our best to offer a reopening plan that was flexible, provided options, and always kept safety first.
Dr. Jim Lloyd
Superintendent for the Olmsted Falls City School District
26937 Bagley Rd.
Olmsted Township, OH 44138
Recommendation #1: The superintendent recommends the following for the reopening of school for the 2020-2021 school year to the Olmsted Falls Board of Education.
- If CuyCo COVID Advisory Level 4/Purple, then Distance Learning 2.0 for students.
- *If CuyCo COVID Advisory Level 3/Red, then Hybrid Model with Group A physically going to school Monday and Tuesday, and Group B going to school physically Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be an instructional day that could occur remotely or in person depending on the needs of students and the plans developed for them. The staff in buildings will collaboratively work to create a set of standard operating procedures for “Remote Wednesday.”
- *If CuyCo COVID Advisory Level 2/Orange, then Hybrid Model with Group A physically going to school Monday and Tuesday and Group B going to school physically Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be an instructional day that could occur remotely or in person depending on the needs of students and the plans developed for them. The staff in buildings will collaboratively work to create a set of standard operating procedures for “Remote Wednesday.”
- *If CuyCo COVID Advisory Level 1/Yellow, then all students would physically attend school 5-days per week.
*The CuyCo COVID Advisory Levels System represents the initial data point in making the decision to be in school remotely or in person, but it isn’t the only data point. The superintendent will also utilize additional local data from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Governor’s Office and Ohio’s Department of Health. For instance, the current recommendation is to start the year in remote fashion due to 2 important data points tracked by the CCBoH--
- Testing positivity rate/percentage as reported and (was around 8%, but currently trending down at 5.4%);
- The number of new cases per day in Cuyahoga County with the exclusion of Cleveland Proper (currently at 100). As of August 12 that number is trending down.
In short, if the positivity rate and number of new cases decreases to levels where the CCBoH does not believe it is of concern, we would implement the reopening plan as defined in “a through d” above.
Recommendation #2: The superintendent recommends student participation for all K-12 extracurriculars regardless of the CCBoH’s recommendation at this time. This recommendation is being made due to:
- The significantly lower number of students and adults involved in these extracurriculars when compared to the larger numbers of students and adults involved with in person education;
- The venues of where the extracurriculars take place (i.e. generally outdoors or in a gym with significant square footage compared to a 720 square foot classroom).
- Our experiences in successfully mitigating COVID-19 during participation in student extracurriculars over the summer; and
- The desire to continue to do our very best to keep kids connected to something that the school can provide in person during this time.
My recommendation would hold as long as the adults who are supervising these activities are willing to fulfill their supplemental/stipend contracts and can provide assurances to the superintendent (who will provide them to the School Board) that the proper mitigation steps have been taken, and our students and adults are indeed protected, healthy and well. As it relates to athletics, I recommend the district should follow the direction from Ohio’s Governor, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio High School Athletic Association as it relates to contact and non-contact activities. In addition, if extracurriculars enter into the competition stage, we will have significant restrictions in place that will strictly govern the public attending any event.