Dear South-Western Families,
At 4:52 this evening (Nov. 19) 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