In an effort to keep you informed about the upcoming school year, I want to provide you with an update on our planning. Now that Governor DeWine has provided school districts with health safety guidance, we have a better understanding of expectations and requirements to keep students and staff safe and get back to school. However, there are still many issues to work through at the local level to develop a model that encompasses all aspects of school operations and adheres to the health safety guidance we are being given.
Although our comprehensive RESTART plan will not be ready until early August, I can share with you the principles guiding our work as we finalize the plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year:
- Develop a safe transition for staff and students to return to school buildings and implement strategies for academic recovery.
- Get staff and students back in school buildings for instruction and learning and offer a virtual option for students who choose not to or cannot return to buildings.
- Implement health safety protocols and practices following guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Department of Health and Hamilton County Department of Health.
I have heard from some of you who would like to see the comprehensive RESTART plan released sooner than early August, but I am not comfortable releasing a plan until it has been thoughtfully developed by our team and the many details worked out -- and this takes time. Additionally, COVID-19 conditions and health guidance are both changing almost daily, so the reality is any plan released now would very likely not look the same a month from now. A month is a very long time with the fluid situation we are dealing with in this pandemic.
With three children of my own in the school district, I understand the anxiousness and the need to know what to expect and how to plan. So, yes, as shared in our guiding principles above, we want to open our doors to students at the start of the school year; however, conditions and guidance out of our control could make this impossible. Likewise, the potential of opening school and then being forced to transition into a remote learning model because of required quarantining or a significant outbreak is real. Therefore, I urge all of our parents/guardians to have contingency plans ready and understand that, as much as we all want definitive answers to lots of questions, we just don’t have them all right now, and the ones we do have could be different by August 26th.
As I shared two weeks ago, we will be conducting screening days for our K-3 students prior to the start of the school year. If you have a child(ren) who will be in first grade, second grade and/or third grade this upcoming school year at Mariemont Elementary, please click here to sign up for a screening day and time. Click here for Terrace Park Elementary. Kindergarten parents will receive a link to sign up after they are fully registered in the school district.
We have also established iPad pick up dates and times for grades K-4. Students attending Mariemont Elementary can pick up on Wednesday, July 29, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Students attending Terrace Park Elementary can pick up on Thursday, July 30, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Our instructional team will provide suggested activities and resources in language arts and math to help students prepare for the start of the new school year. Students in grades 5-10 will receive their iPads at the start of the school year.
Finally, we have established a RESTART webpage on the district’s website for the latest news and information about our planning, back-to-school updates and answers to frequently asked questions. This webpage is also where you can submit questions or offer feedback regarding the restart of school and the COVID-19 impact on our school district.
Please know that we are doing our best to work through a very challenging situation. As always, I appreciate your support and patience.
Superintendent, Mariemont City Schools