BCSD Announces Back to School Recommendation to the Board

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., I will be presenting the final Back to School plan to the Bexley City Schools Board of Education that was drafted with the input of the BCS Reopening Task Force, the Bexley Education Association, and local public health experts. The plan includes options for all students in person, all students distance, and a hybrid of the two. I will also be sharing a recommendation on which plan option Bexley Schools should implement to begin the 2020-21 school year.
As of today, unless anything significantly changes, I plan to recommend to the board that Bexley City Schools begin the school year with full distance learning for the first quarter (through October 16). Further, I am recommending that we offer distance learning for all students from our Bexley teachers.
We all thought that we would be in a stronger position by August with the coronavirus under control, but unfortunately, Columbus is a hotspot with significant community spread. Further, this morning, Central Ohio Superintendents met with Dr. Mysheika Roberts of Columbus Public Health and Mr. Joe Mazzola of Franklin County Public Health. They have advised that based upon the case counts, positivity rates and trend data schools open the year with all students in distance learning. Their updated guidance document is expected this week. We will continue to make all decisions with the guidance of public health experts and with the expectation of a quality learning experience for each student.
We acknowledge the science and the input of doctors and epidemiologists and the previous guidance from FCPH that at the county public health alert level 3 we could be in a hybrid model of education. These doctors and local public health experts told us that the health and safety measures we have in place will help to mitigate the risks and allow staff and students to be physically present in schools.
However, as of today with the information I know right now, I believe the best option for our staff and students is to use the remaining time we have before the start of the school year on August 24 to go full force on developing an even more robust and engaging learning experience online. You can probably imagine that our teachers are stretched thin thinking about all the different plans and preparing for all at the same time. By choosing a learning plan now, our teachers will be better prepared to deliver the highest quality experience to our students possible.
I continue to work closely with our staff. The Bexley Education Association has shared the following statement on the recommendation:
"The educators of the Bexley Education Association stand together in support and appreciation of our district's decision to begin the year in distance learning. While we cannot wait to see our students again in person, we know that the health and safety of our students, our colleagues, and all of our families is paramount. This decision will allow us to focus all of our attention on creating and implementing excellent distance learning that engages our students and motivates them to be their very best. We love our students and are counting down the days to starting our work with them this school year."
Our staff will continue to be ready for all the options in our Back to School plan, which is being updated to reflect the information that was shared by CPH and FCPH today. Although this decision will give our teachers time to plan and prepare for the first nine weeks, our staff will continue to closely monitor the virus in our community as we may be able to move to hybrid or all-in learning later this school year, though the guidance today suggested that all-in learning would likely not be possible until a vaccine is widely available and implemented.
We want to bring all of our students back in-person as soon as possible; that remains our goal. In-person classroom instruction is critically important to student development. We are committed to doing this in the safest way possible for all. We know that this isn’t what parents, students, teachers or administrators want school to look like this year - this is temporary. We are looking forward to the day we can safely be back in our classrooms and school buildings and hope it will be soon.
A link to the Board of Education meeting will be available on the board's page on our website Thursday afternoon.