Superintendent's Message to the Community

June 2, 2020

Dear CPS Community,

We know that there is one question on the minds of our district’s parents, students, employees, and community members: What will education at Cincinnati Public Schools look like in the fall?

We have been working collaboratively for the last several weeks to answer that exact question and our goal is to share our final recommendations by the end of June. Today, we want to take a few moments to provide an update on the process and key dates, share what’s happening this summer, and invite you to complete a survey so your voice can be heard.

Guiding Principles

As we move forward, we are keeping our strategic plan top of mind. We are committed to:

  • The health and safety our students and employees.
  • Academic success for all students.
  • Ensuring that students are at the center of all decision making.
  • Engaging with our school communities.
  • Utilizing data.

Health and Safety Protocols

Cincinnati Public Schools is actively planning for the reopening of schools with the health and safety of our students, families, employees, and community at the forefront. The following safety protocols for students, staff and visitors follow guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control and are under consideration: 

General Health

  • Daily health assessments for all staff and students
  • Visitors will be limited to conducting business pertaining to enrollment or resolving emergency situations
  • Face coverings required for all staff, students and visitors
  • Reducing shared materials in the classroom
  • Meals served in classroom

Social Distancing

  • Classroom configuration to allow for desks to be six feet apart
  • Staggered arrival and departure to allow for social distancing
  • Social distancing on school buses

Cleaning and Sanitation

  • Increased disinfecting procedures
  • Encouraging students to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer more frequently

Procedures

  • Procedures for student or staff illness reporting/tracking and designating an isolation area
  • Procedures for closing a building during an outbreak, disinfecting, and re-opening (in conjunction with local health department)
  • Procedures for staff leave and student excused absences

Training

  • Training on safety precautions for all staff and students

Recovery and Future of Schools Teams

In late April, our district organized two teams to begin the process of reopening our schools and buildings.

Recovery

The first team is focused on recovery, which includes addressing safety protocols and the limited reopening of buildings for employees and the public.

Key dates:

  • May 18 and 26 — Education Center opened to employees and the public (prefer appointments)
  • June 1 — School offices open for employees
  • June 15 — School offices open to the public (prefer appointments)

Future of Schools

The second team is comprised of parents, staff, union representatives and community members and is creating multiple plans to help guide the return to schools in the fall. These plans will be shared with the Board as initial options on June 10.

We are also working on several additional initiatives that will have a positive impact on student learning in the next school year:

  • Offering support for children experiencing trauma as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. For example, school social workers and school counselors will provide social, emotional counseling groups for students in need. In addition, there will be mandatory training for teachers regarding social-emotional learning strategies, and the development of safe routines and procedures for learning.
  • Internet for all students — CPS is working with partners to provide internet access for all students, and will announce details later in the summer.
  • Digital Academy — For parents and students who are concerned about a return to the classroom, CPS has a completely digital option that would allow progression to continue in a completely virtual environment.

Key dates:

  • Early June — additional feedback from community gathered
  • June 10 — initial options from the Administration to the Board of Education
  • End of June — final plan shared with employees, families, and the public

Survey

We are excited to be able to invite all stakeholders, students, parents, community members and staff to share your thoughts and opinions about the upcoming school year through a survey fielded via ThoughtExchange. Help us understand: What concerns, questions, comments, or ideas do you have as Cincinnati Public Schools plans for the reopening of schools?

There are three easy steps to participate in the exchange:

  1. To get started, click here and then choose the "Participate" button and share the concerns, questions, comments, and ideas you have as we plan for the reopening of schools. You will then have an opportunity to rate at least 20–30 of the thoughts that others have shared. 
  2. Please note that your participation is confidential. No one will know who shared or rated which thoughts. We ask that you avoid including individual’s names in your feedback, as those comments will be hidden from view in order to protect the privacy of our employees and families.
  3. Finally, please come back often until the survey closes at noon on Monday, June 8 to rate new ideas that others have shared. 

The last day to enter your comments is June 8.

Summer

During summer, we will continue to support our students and families through:  

  • Summer School — Credit recovery classes will be held remotely and available online for high school students, June 2–26.
  • Meals — Healthy meals will continue to be distributed at 23 school sites, recreation centers and other locations in the district until August 14.  
  • Health Centers  The following health centers are open to support the community. Health Center locations
  • Fall Enrollment — To guarantee that bus transportation is available for the first day of school, we ask that parents whose children will attend a new school in the fall enroll their child by June 24.
    • Our Education Center is open and school offices will be open to the public June 15 to help provide any assistance. If you have questions you can call our Customer Care Center at (513) 363-0123 or visit CPS' website.
  • CPS TV — The community access channel will continue to feature recorded online lessons presented by CPS teachers. More information is available here.
  • Social-Emotional Learning — Mental health counseling is available through our partnership with Mind Peace. A listing of resources is also available in our remote learning plan.

Our commitment to you is to be open to ideas, to involve all stakeholders in our planning, and to remain adaptable, with a focus on ensuring our students continue to get the education they deserve in a manner that keeps them, their families, and our employees safe. 

We know that the 2020–2021 academic year will be unlike any we've experienced before. This also means it is an opportunity to be creative, flexible and innovative. I am confident that we will come out the other side of this experience stronger, with best practices around technology and learning that will change education forever. And our district will be better for it. The future is now.

Thank you for your partnership, support, and voice. Please take a moment to share your opinions with us on ThoughtExchange by June 8.

Sincerely,

Laura Mitchell
Superintendent

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