Communication from SWCSD

November 19, 2020

Dear South-Western Families,

At 4:52 this evening we received the following communication from Franklin County Public Health:

“In response to the Ohio Public Advisory System designating Franklin County Level 4 or “purple,” Franklin County Public Health is issuing the following clarifying guidance to all public and private K-12 schools.

The health department has issued a Stay at Home advisory for all residents effective November 20-December 18. This guidance acknowledges the need for only essential activities including work and school. In that advisory, schools are recommended to maintain their current modality of learning to the extent possible and discontinue extracurricular activities. Public health is concerned about possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and more cases of COVID-19 as a result of potential spread during the Thanksgiving break. In order to minimize that potential, schools are encouraged to transition to remote learning after the Thanksgiving Holiday and remain in virtual learning for the duration of the advisory period.”

We have reviewed the available data, listened to Governor DeWine, and talked with our local health departments. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to staff our operations with the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Franklin County and the number of individuals who need to quarantine due to close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Our health officials continue to stress and our experiences prove that school is a safe place for students and staff with layered protocols in place. Unfortunately, community conditions do have an impact on our ability to staff and operate our schools.

We are hopeful that by following the recommendations of our public health officials and transitioning to a fully remote learning environment after Thanksgiving break and remaining in that model through winter break, more favorable conditions and staffing levels will result as we start the new calendar year. In following the health department recommendations:

  • The last in-person day for blue students will be November 23, 2020; and

  • The last in-person day for green students will be November 20, 2020.

You will be receiving additional information from your child’s teacher and school. This will include meal pick-up instructions during remote learning.

Being physically present in school is important to the social, emotional, and educational growth of our students, but we also need to keep the safety of our students and staff at the center of our decision-making process. According to many of the reports we have seen, spread of the virus continues to take place in settings primarily outside of our schools and we know this has the potential to make community conditions less than favorable, which in turn means our ability to adequately staff our classrooms is less likely. We are hopeful that by making this decision now families and staff will have a better opportunity to plan for the transition.

We will continue to review our local data and talk with our health agencies to assist us in our future planning. We will be communicating again on December 17 to update you on conditions and plans for the new calendar year. Thank you for your support during these challenging times.

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Dr. Bill Wise, Superintendent

August 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you for a great start of the 2020-2021 school year. We had a successful opening of school with teachers meeting and connecting with their students and families in new and creative ways. We appreciate everyone’s hard work and willingness to be flexible.

The most recent data shows COVID-19 numbers and positivity rates in Franklin County and throughout the school district declining. According to the state’s color coded public advisory system, Franklin County is no longer classified as ‘red’ (Level 3). Franklin County is now classified as ‘orange’ (Level 2). Based on this information and assuming nothing unforeseen happens over the next week, we will transition to a Blended Learning (blue/green) environment on Tuesday, September 8.

We have enhanced safety procedures in place and, once again, urge everyone to follow the procedures set in place to help keep our students and staff members safe so we can sustain face-to-face learning for our families. As schools reopen and we share Labor Day celebrations with family and friends, it is essential that we follow best practices to keep the spread of COVID-19 low. Our ability to bring students back to campus safely is driven by a community environment that is experiencing limited spread of the virus. What happens in our community will ultimately happen in our schools.

Many of these enhanced procedures can be reviewed on our Back-to-School website under the ‘Keeping Students & Staff Healthy and Safe’ tab. While we know there will be challenges, we also believe that working together we can keep our schools safe for both students and employees.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, please review the blue/green calendar on our website so you know which days your child(ren) are scheduled for face-to-face learning in school and which days they will be learning remotely.

Thank you again for your patience and support. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Dr. Bill Wise, Superintendent

August 6, 2020

August 6, 2020

Dear South-Western Families,

Last week both the Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health issued guidance to schools that we begin the school year remotely. Franklin County Public Health has since provided additional clarification. We are planning to use the public health recommendations as the basis of our decisions. Some in our community have been appreciative of this, others have been angered by this, and still others are not sure what to think. When we started the planning process for the opening of school, our first guiding principle was the health and safety of our school community. I find it fascinating that choosing to follow the recommendations of public health can be interpreted as not caring about what is best for students.

We plan to start the 2020-2021 school year in a fully remote manner. Our conversations and the direction provided by our public health agencies, local data (state risk level, positivity rates, case counts), and our experiences as we bring individuals back to our school campuses will be the primary factors in making adjustments as we move forward. We are trying to use real-time data to make informed decisions, which is why we have not committed to a specific length of time in which our students will be learning remotely.

So now what? It seems as though every time I open my email, turn on the television, or check my favorite news feeds there is something new on the pandemic. Conflicting information seems to come from almost every direction. It is amazing how often opposing opinions are often referencing the same source to support their position. In the end, many are simply sharing an opinion and looking for justification to support their personal opinion. The point being, when it comes to health and safety reducing risk has always been the priority. Many of us have been trained in crisis intervention and disaster recovery over the past few years. The district secured two Federal Readiness and Emergency Management grants to ensure we are as prepared as possible in the event of a crisis and to implement strategies to prevent many of these events. One of the first things taught in the training is a decision-making framework. The framework has three basic priorities - save lives, don’t let the situation get worse, and protect community resources. While not exactly the same, the current pandemic requires us to think in much the same way.

We believe the professionals in public health are in the best position to help us navigate COVID-19 and are looking out for the best interests of our community. We are in regular communication with our public health agencies. We share our professional assessment of the consequences for schools, students, and families. They continue to listen to our perspective and make adjustments to their recommendations. As public health recommendations change or allowances are made, our plans and decisions will adjust as well. Ultimately as a school district we believe aligning with the recommendations of public health to be the most appropriate path as we proceed.

For those of you that know me personally, you know that I have opinions on a wide variety of topics and issues. While I have those personal feelings, I know that doesn’t necessarily make them right. I also understand the difference in making a decision regarding me and my family versus the roughly 25,000 students and staff members in our school community. I don’t have the expertise in the area of community health to know what is right. Even local health professionals that have shared their opinions are in conflict.

We will do our best to communicate adjustments with families in a timely manner. Please make sure your contact information in Infinite Campus is up-to-date so you receive our communications.

Stay safe. Stay healthy,

Dr. Bill Wise, Superintendent

Planning for the 2020-2021 School Year

July 28, 2020

Dear South-Western Families,

In our most recent conversation with Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health, they shared current COVID-19 information. The positivity rates, case counts, and trendlines are not conducive to opening schools in a hybrid model. They are recommending a continuing trend of decreasing rates before blended learning takes place. In alignment with this guidance, we will be starting the 2020-2021 school year in a 100% remote learning model. For all practical purposes, our operations will mirror the protocols that existed in May and June.

Our instructional delivery models we have been preparing for will not need to change. We fundamentally believe that our students and schools will experience face-to-face learning at some point throughout the 2020-2021 school year. If you have any concerns about your child attending school in a face-to-face learning environment at any point during the school year or if this is not feasible for your family, please take advantage of the opportunity to sign your child(ren) up for our South-Western Virtual Learning Academy by August 7.

This will be a fluid situation and making the decisions regarding when to transition between learning scenarios is not easy, but we will continue to consider all of the guidance and data available to us. The time period in which we enter the different face-to-face learning scenarios will depend upon various local data points, circumstances, and agency recommendations at that particular point in time.

We recognize the anxiety and frustration this situation is causing. Our goal is to provide an optimal learning environment without compromising the health and safety of students and staff. More information will be provided over the next few weeks as we continue to keep you informed during this ever-changing time.

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Dr. Bill Wise, Superintendent

Estimadas familias de South-Western City Schools

En nuestra conversación más reciente con Columbus Public Health y Franklin County Public Health, compartieron información actual sobre COVID-19. Las tasas de positividad, el recuento de casos y las líneas de tendencia no son propicias para abrir las escuelas en un modelo híbrido. Recomiendan una tendencia continua de disminución de las tasas antes de que tenga lugar el aprendizaje combinado. En alineación con esta guía, comenzaremos el año escolar 2020-2021 en un modelo de aprendizaje 100% remoto. Por todos los efectos prácticos, nuestras operaciones reflejarán los protocolos que existieron en mayo y junio.

Nuestros modelos de entrega de instrucción para los que nos hemos estado preparando no tendrán que cambiar. Creemos fundamentalmente que nuestros estudiantes y escuelas experimentaran el aprendizaje cara a cara en algún momento durante el año escolar 2020-2021. Si tiene alguna inquietud acerca de que su hijo asista a la escuela en un entorno de aprendizaje presencial en algún momento durante el año escolar o si esto no es factible para su familia, aproveche la oportunidad de inscribir a su(s) hijo(s) para nuestra academia de aprendizaje virtual de South-Western antes del 7 de agosto.

Esta será una situación fluida y tomar decisiones con respecto a cuándo hacer la transición entre escenarios de aprendizaje no es fácil, pero continuaremos considerando toda la orientación y los datos disponibles para nosotros. El período de tiempo en el que ingresamos a los diferentes escenarios de aprendizaje cara a cara dependerá de varios puntos de datos locales, circunstancias y recomendaciones de la agencia en ese momento en particular.

Reconocemos la ansiedad y la frustración que esta situación está causando. Nuestro objetivo es proporcionar un entorno de aprendizaje óptimo sin comprometer la salud y la seguridad de los estudiantes y el personal. Se proporcionará más información durante las próximas semanas a medida que continuamos manteniéndolo informado durante este tiempo siempre cambiante.

Manténgase sano. Manténgase a salvo.

Dr. Bill Wise, Superintendente