Over the last two weeks we have seen a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in the state and in Franklin County and tomorrow a county-wide “stay at home advisory” goes into effect. Many of you may be wondering what this means for our schools.
We are grateful to our students and staff for adhering to our health and safety precautions, they are working and our schools continue to be a safe place to learn. We are not seeing the spread happen in our classrooms, however, we are beginning to see an increase in staff and student quarantines and as a result are starting to face difficulties in staff coverage. It is vitally important that we all continue to follow the protocols at school as well as in our social gatherings and do our part to keep each other healthy and our schools open.
The BCS Evaluation Team is a dedicated group of Bexley medical professionals who consistently volunteer their time and energy to provide recommendations to our District. This team recently developed a Learning Mode Decision Tool that was adopted by our Board of Education on Tuesday. We appreciate their measured guidance with each new development as our District leadership considers shifts in our learning model in reaction to COVID-19. At this time, we are not shifting our learning model and will continue to share our decision-making process with you.
COVID-19 is undoubtedly a serious concern and we do not take it lightly but what is keeping me, and many of our faculty, up at night is the mental health of our students and staff. Many respondents in our survey indicated a need for their own and others’ social and mental health. What makes us Distinctly Bexley is our response to those concerns that we all agree are fundamental to student and staff success. We must respond to those who are feeling stressed, isolated, overburdened, overwhelmed, and fatigued with compassion and empathy.
We are going to provide our students, their families, our faculty, and staff an opportunity to breathe, catch up on those professional tasks that seemingly elude them, regroup and restore their energies in order to approach the three weeks in December feeling on top of the game. In order to achieve this, Monday and Tuesday of next week will be Student Non-Attendance Days. While we believe that students being physically present in school is important, we also recognize a balance is needed for our staff and students, now more than ever.
Students will have an opportunity to use these days as they need to continue learning at home, complete projects, or remotely connect with peers or staff. Teachers will use these days to grade, assess their instructional goals for the remainder of the year, and collaborate with colleagues or students as needed. The primary purpose of these days is to focus on setting students and staff up for a strong finish to the first semester. No new instructional material will be provided on these days.
When we return for the final weeks of the first semester on November 30, mental wellness and school/work-life balance will continue to stay a focal point. Academic progress will be thwarted if we are not healthy and ready to learn and engage. Many in the Bexley community have repeated the same phrase over the last few weeks, “Please just do what is best for the students and staff.” We firmly believe this is what is best for our students and our faculty & staff and wish your family a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
Later today, we will share details about child care through Bexley Rec, meal distribution, and athletics. This information will be sent through an email and included in our weekly newsletter. Please contact your student’s building for additional services or any questions you may have.
Dr. Dan Good, Superintendent