Dear Highland Parents,
I hope that you continue to enjoy your summer break.
As communicated last week, I promised to keep you updated on any news as it relates to school reopening plans for next year. We expected guidance from the Ohio Department of Health and the Governor’s Office by the end of this week. Unfortunately, we have just been advised that the health-related guidance is yet again, delayed. We are hearing that information may now be released next week.
I want to assure you that the Highland administrative team has been working on a number of possible options for the 2020-21 school year. There are so many considerations involving health and safety practices, academic needs, transportation, food service, athletics, extracurricular programming and legal requirements. We have been researching and studying all of these topics since early March. We are in direct, and sometimes daily, contact with local and state health officials on how to reopen schools safely. In addition, we have been analyzing the data and feedback received from our online parent and teacher surveys. All have provided good and actionable information that we can use moving forward.
In an effort to keep parents informed, we offer the following current considerations:
- Our goal is to offer in-person school, five days per week, if we can do that safely and responsibly.
- We may be moving the first day of school for students to August 24. This would provide additional professional development time for our staff to organize distance learning in the event that becomes necessary at any point during the 2020-21 school year.
- We plan to offer a personalized, Ohio standards-aligned online K-12 platform for those families who are not comfortable having students return to school. This would be an independent online program. Your child would remain a Highland student and there would be no cost for this programming.
- If we have to close due to COVID-19, we would utilize distance learning for our students via Google Classroom, taught by our staff. This may be for a brief, intermittent or extended period of time. This would be a similar, but improved, approach to what was implemented from March through May.
- Transportation continues to be a potential issue, pending the requirements from the state on social distancing calculations. It may not be possible to transport the same number of students on one bus as we have in the past. We may need to ask parents, who are able, to transport their children to school.
- We are assessing whether to hold any events where large crowds will gather (plays, musicals, etc.). Again, this will depend on any applicable state guidelines/requirements.
- We continue to monitor athletics pending guidance/requirements from the state and/or local health departments.
- We have received a lot of parent feedback regarding student facial coverings. Many have responded that we should require it and many have responded that we should not. This is an extremely divisive topic and we are aware of that. We continue to weigh both sides of this issue.
So much can change between now and August, but since necessary guidance continues to be delayed, we wanted to share what relevant information we have currently. As more details become available, we will communicate with you.