Superintendent's District Update

September 24, 2020

Parent Institute 

Join us virtually on September 30, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. to learn about microaggressions.
 Zoom link: https://bexleyschools.zoom.us/j/87954323795
  • What are they?                  
  • How are they impacting our students and our community?               
  • Why is it important that you address them?          
  • What are some strategies that can support you in addressing them?                      
The discussion will be led by Ms. Leisan C. Smith, Director of Student and Community Engagement and is part of a three-part Parent Institute series on anti-racism.

Columbus Alive Statement    

Columbus Alive contacted the district this week in regards to our investigation of students demonstrating discriminatory behavior this summer. Our full statement that we provided is the following:
                        
Through our investigation, the district discovered Bexley City Schools students were both members and victims of this group making racist and homophobic attacks online. Those who were found to have been involved in the harassment have been disciplined.
      
We acknowledge that it can be frustrating for people to not know the details of the investigation and subsequent discipline because we have to protect the education and privacy of students involved in accordance with federal law. This incident has shone a spotlight on an issue we’ve been working on as a district for many years, but this has demonstrated a critical need to accelerate our work now.
                        
As an institution of learning, we understand our obligation to partner with families and use every opportunity we have to develop our students to be active citizens in a global and diverse society. Therefore, we have implemented professional learning and training for our staff, developed educational experiences related to anti-racism and equity for our students, and will offer a series of three Parent Institute sessions for our families this fall. The following topics will be addressed: microaggressions, implicit bias, and understanding privilege. The district has also established the Bexley City Schools Anti-Racism Task Force, which is led by Ms. Leisan Smith, Director of Student and Community Engagement. This 22-member task force includes administrators, teachers, parents, students, community members, and representatives from community organizations. The task force will focus on reviewing school policy, implementing an equity audit, conducting implicit bias training for staff and caregivers, and collecting data and feedback from our community.

Week 1 of Hybrid Learning

We are one day from completing our first week of hybrid learning. We are very proud of our students who have been outstanding at following the risk-mitigation protocols that we have put into place. We would also like to thank our community, staff, and students for following protocols outside of school. We were able to return to in-person learning because of the collective efforts of each community member doing their part to reduce the spread of the virus.  But we cannot let up now. We want to keep our students and staff in our schools safely. We want to continue participating in athletics and extracurriculars. So please, continue to be diligent in wearing your mask, keeping physical distance, washing your hands, and staying home if you are sick.
                        
We rely on parents to quickly report any positive cases or exposures. This allows us to take the proper precautions to keep our students, staff, and families safe. Your report is kept anonymous and can be submitted using our Confidential COVID-19 Reporting Form.

Health and Safety Reminders                    

Keep your child home if they have any of the following symptoms:     
  • Fever (100.4 F or higher)      
  • New or worsened cough          
  • Loss of taste or smell                 
  • Sore throat                   
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose 
Or two or more of the following:
  • Headache               
  • Body aches                   
  • New or worsened fatigue               
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea     
This document created by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Franklin County Public Health, and Columbus Public Health provides more helpful information on when and how long you should keep your child at home.

Reporting Cases

We have received a number of questions regarding when the school notifies parents of a positive COVID-19 case. Bexley City Schools has had no new positive cases since returning to in-person learning. Parents are notified if their child has had the potential for direct exposure to a classmate, staff member, or coach who has tested positive. Parents are not notified if a Bexley student has a family member (who is not a Bexley student) who tested positive for COVID-19.
                        
The following is the exact language from the Ohio Department of Health’s order requiring schools to report and notify COVID-19 cases.
                        
Within twenty-four (24) hours of becoming aware of a student, teacher, staff member, or coach who has tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19, a school shall notify parents or guardians of students of the existence of the case in writing and share as much information as possible without disclosing protected health information.

a) Written notification of a positive test or case shall be sent to the parents or guardians of all students who share a classroom space or have participated in a school activity during the COVID-19 infectious period of a student, teacher, staff member, or coach.  

b) Written notification shall also be provided to all parents or guardians of students at the school building notifying them of a positive test result. This schoolwide notification may be made using email or an established website. Schools are required to provide this notification with each case, although schools are permitted to consolidate notifications if necessary.

COVID-19 Dashboard



September 17, 2020

Creating A More Inclusive Bexley City Schools

                        
This past July, the Bexley City School District became aware of a group making racist and homophobic attacks online. We were disappointed and outraged over these allegations. This and other forms of bullying and harassment are unacceptable and will not be tolerated at BCSD. Each student in Bexley has the right to expect a safe learning environment. We remain vigilant to ensure this occurs for each student.
                        
Once we were notified of these horrific acts, the school district immediately began a thorough investigation, which recently concluded. Through our investigation, the district discovered Bexley City Schools students were both members and victims of this group. Those who were found to have violated school policy have been held accountable by the district and disciplined in accordance with the Bexley Board of Education Policies. Due to federal privacy laws, we are prohibited from disclosing specific information pertaining to those involved.
                        
The Bexley City School District takes matters involving racism, homophobia, and any form of harassment seriously. We acknowledge and celebrate the courage of all those who took an active approach to report these behaviors. We also respect and care for those who chose not to come forward.  
                        
Bexley Schools provides an online Incident Reporting tool as an opportunity to report incidents related to bullying, hazing, and harassment. We encourage members of our community to utilize this tool. You may also talk to a teacher, a counselor, or an administrator to report an incident.
                        
We remain dedicated to continuing to do the necessary work to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for each of our students. An environment in which when things like this do happen, students feel safe in coming forward, knowing that the matter will be handled in a timely and thorough manner. This investigation has also expedited our need to examine our current practices and policies, specifically as it relates to institutional bias and racism. We are committed to this ongoing work and know that it will be difficult and take time.
                        
As an institution of learning, we understand the essential role education has in developing our students to be active citizens in a global and diverse society. This unfortunate incident has created a sense of urgency in everyone associated with the Bexley City School District and strongly indicates to us that we have more work to do.
                        
Below is a summary of action steps that have been developed by our Director of Student & Community Engagement, Leisan Smith, in collaboration with other members of the BCSD Leadership Team. While this list is not exhaustive, it is intended to provide a general overview of how we will use our roles as educators to combat social injustice. We hope that our community will join us in this continued conversation and learning.
                        

For Students

  • Middle and High School leadership reviewed student policies and expectations regarding bullying/harassment. Specific behaviors related to race and racism were spotlighted.

  • The Middle School BIPOC Group was created. This group has weekly check-ins for students of color led by Bexley Middle School Assistant Principal Ms. Armstrong

  • Ms. Smith moderated a conversation with middle schoolers, while Mr. Caudill and Ms. Armstrong addressed and answered the following questions:

    • What is racism?

    • What is anti-racism?

    • What are microaggressions?

    • What happens when you offend someone?

    • Why can’t I use the N word?


For Parents

  • Upcoming Parent Institute Sessions

    • Microaggressions (September 30)

    • Implicit Bias

    • Understanding Privilege 

  • BCSD/BMPA/BARP College Panel Conversation: 

    • Facilitating conversation and connections between Bexley families of color and leaders of color in college admissions


For Staff

  • Training and Professional Development

    • Anti-racism training during the week of 8/17

    • Implicit and institutional bias training from September through December

    • Professional Development Day in November with required training on anti-racism and bias


BCS Anti-Racism Task Force

  • Established in September 2020

  • Twenty-two members, which are administrators, teachers, parents, students, community members, and representatives from various community organizations

  • Focus Areas: 

    • Policy

      • Review of current policies and regulations

      • Collection of equity and anti-racism policy found in other districts to use as resources 

      • Writing of BCS equity/anti-racism policy and regulations

    • Collecting feedback and data from students, parents, and staff

    • Equity Audit

    • Implicit Bias Training for staff and caregivers 

         

Parent Institute - September 30   

Join us virtually on September 30, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. to learn about microaggressions.    
  • What are they?                          
  • How are they impacting our students and our community?                           
  • Why is it important that you address them?                           
  • What are some strategies that can support you in addressing them?                        
The discussion will be led by Ms. Leisan C. Smith, Director of Student & Community Engagement, and is part of a three-part Parent Institute series on Anti-Racism.

Returning to Hybrid

                        
Bexley City Schools will return to the hybrid learning model on Monday, September 21. School districts spoke with Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health officials earlier this week, and they indicated their guidance to return to school in the hybrid plan is still in place.
                        
Students have been split into “A Group / B Group” and will attend in-person on their designated days. When students are not participating in in-person learning at one of our Bexley schools, they will be completing their daily learning through Google Classroom or Canvas. Student learning on these days could be supported in a variety of ways such as through a pre-recorded lesson from teachers, a live lesson via Zoom or Google Meet, and/or through independent practice or inquiry-based activities that will be posted daily. Group B students will follow the plan of learning located in Google Classroom or Canvas on September 21 and September 22.
                        
Please visit our Back to School page, where you will find our hybrid learning models, operational guide, and Back to School FAQ, which was updated yesterday. Also, please read the Sunday Principal Newsletters for more building-specific details about returning to hybrid on Monday.

COVID-19 Dashboard

Everyone in our community plays an important role in keeping themselves and others safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Bexley City Schools has developed extensive health and safety protocols to allow our students and staff to return to in-person learning and to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities. But we cannot do this without the entire community’s help.
                        
It is important to:                                    
  • Wear a face mask or the appropriate protective equipment in all public spaces                
  • Practice physical distance                      
  • Frequently wash and/or sanitize hands            
  • Keep personal space, shared common space, and belongings clean           
  • Practice cough and sneeze etiquette                       
Please read and adhere to the Bexley Health Pledge.
                     
Our Confidential COVID-19 Reporting Form is posted atop our website. Use this document to report confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illness, symptoms, or exposure. If you are experiencing COVID-19 illness or possible exposure, please contact your medical provider immediately.

Board Meeting

The Bexley Board of Education Special Board Meeting is at 5:30 p.m. this evening. There will be an executive session at the beginning of the meeting, and public comment will not be offered. The link to join is posted on https://www.bexleyschools.org/BoardofEducation.aspx

Thank You Bexley

                        
Last week, Bexley Board of Education President, Ms. Marlee Snowdon, notified our staff and community that I have been named the finalist for the position of superintendent of Eastland Fairfield Career and Technical Schools. The decision to leave Bexley Schools was a difficult one. But after much reflection and consultation with my family, it is the right time for me to take on a new challenge in a new educational arena. However, I was only willing to consider the position if the Eastland Fairfield Board would allow me to complete my service to Bexley Schools this year. They agreed to work with me on a timeline for transition.
                        
Last Tuesday, prior to my interview at Eastland Fairfield, Ms. Snowdon and I discussed that the Bexley Board of Education would work collaboratively with me to determine a separation date that was also in the best interest of Bexley City Schools.
                        
I am very proud of the work we have accomplished together. In just three years we have developed and implemented a strategic plan, aligned our instruction around key goals, developed the Bexley Learner Profile, reorganized our structure to be more flexible and responsive, implemented instructional coaches, passed a levy, significantly improved our access to and implementation of instructional technology, developed a comprehensive tech plan that will propel us to an expansive 1:1 program (when the supply chain opens), and opened the important conversations of mental health and racial inequities. I am also proud of the partnerships and collaborative manner in which we have developed programs and solved problems. We have become a high performing team! But now it is time for someone else to step in and lead the district forward to what is next.
                        
I am very grateful for the many staff and community members who have become partners in the work of becoming an aligned district continually focused on finding new ways to engage, equip, and empower students. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we have worked as a team to meet the needs of students in new and innovative ways. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this district and community. It has been my pleasure to serve.
                        
-Kim