Cleveland Schools push back reopening to September 8th, online-only possible in the fall

By Lee Chilcote

Families enrolled in Cleveland schools are on the edge of their seats waiting to know how they’ll return to school in the fall. Following a letter from CEO Eric Gordon this morning, they at least now know that the first day of school will be pushed back to Monday, September 8th. They’ll have to wait until July 24th to learn what school will look like, but the district’s website offers some hints.

“I will be sharing our full reopening plan with our community by July 24th,” Gordon’s letter states. “That plan will include a variety of options for how students will experience learning and teaching this year, based largely on the city and county’s risk level as reported by Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System.”

CMSD has said it’s considering three options: all-remote learning; a “hybrid model that includes both virtual and in-person learning, with students alternating between the two options”; and in-person learning. They’ve also said that “health conditions and guidance could change and require CMSD to shift between the scenarios during the year.”

According to the back-to-school flyer posted on the CMSD website states, the hybrid model is the most likely scenario. “With the current risk level approaching purple a ‘hybrid learning’ scenario is currently in play, with scholars learning in-person for part of the time and using a blended learning approach for other times,” it says.

If Cuyahoga County reaches a purple threat level according to the state’s Public Health Advisory System (our current status is red), then the district is leaving open the possibility of switching to all-remote learning. “Our reopening plan will continue to adjust to this public health guidance,” the website states.

The district’s back to school flyer also provides other general guidance. It says CMSD will have to reduce bus and classroom capacity and won’t be able to allow large numbers of students to share the cafeteria at the same time. Teachers and staff will need extra time for cleaning and sanitizing, and some students and staff won’t be able to return. Additionally, “Schools will be required to adopt strict health department instructions when contamination by or contact with a known case is reported.”

Schools in Northeast Ohio have announced a range of approaches this fall, with many opting for a hybrid model. Columbus schools have announced two days of in-person learning for K-8, and remote for high school. In parts of the U.S. where the virus is spiking, some schools are opting for students not to return to school. At least two major districts in California, Los Angeles and San Diego, have announced that their schools will be online-only this fall.

Gordon’s letter says that the first day for the district’s year-round schools will be Monday, August 24th. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, kids were scheduled to go back on Monday, August 17th at regular schools.

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