Although the COVID-19 coronavirus is in its infancy stage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting an eventual worldwide reach.
Many events, including several aspects of the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, have been canceled or postponed.
Perhaps more important is the effect on education, as nearly 300 million students -- mostly in China but also in 21 other countries -- are not in class because of school closures, according to a March 5 NPR story.
Central Ohio school districts in ThisWeek Community News’ coverage area were asked about their actions regarding the virus -- specifically, the following questions:
1. What are the immediate-action plan and communication plan if an outbreak should occur?
2. What precautions are the district taking now, such as field trips, athletics and other extracurriculars?
3. What plans does the district have to keep up with classwork should an outbreak force long-term closure?
4. What additional information should residents in your district be aware of?
Their unedited responses follow:
Ohio Department of Education
Source: Mandy Minick
First and foremost, schools need to be making decisions with the health and safety of students and their communities as the priority.
The Ohio Department of Education is encouraging schools to take this time to review and refresh their school safety plans which should include plans for things such as pandemic disease outbreaks and continuity of operations. For more information, click here: http://education.ohio.gov/Media/Ed-Connection/March-2-2020/Coronavirus-Districts-should-review-school-safety
Schools likely have flexibility built into their schedules based on their planned calendars. Three make-up days are only necessary if schools fall below the minimum required instructional hours. Schools should refer to the existing policy for school schedules stated here: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Finance-and-Funding/Finance-Related-Data/Guidance-on-Schedule-Change-from-Days-to-Hours/School-Schedules
At this point in time, Ohio Revised Code specifies that “blizzard bags” can be used to make up three days.
-- Marla K. Kuhlman/ThisWeek
Bexley City Schools
Source: Tyler Trill
It's important to note that Franklin County Public Health is the lead agency for our school district in regards to COVID-19. FCPH would notify us if a staff member or student was exposed to the virus. They would then direct us on the next steps
1. Administrators have been in contact with local health and education officials to ensure there is a consistent plan across central Ohio school districts. We’ll continue working closely with Franklin County Public Health to monitor the situation and develop a coordinated and comprehensive public health plan to ensure we are prepared if cases arise in our community. Bexley Schools will be prepared to implement public health recommendations as required. The district sent out an electronic newsletter to parents to let them know what current actions the district is currently taking.---see question 4 for more details.
2. Franklin County Public Health is not discouraging domestic travel, so all field trips, athletic events and other extracurricular activities will currently proceed as planned. We've encouraged our community to be aware of the CDC's travel advisories since our spring break is coming up soon.
3. The district will develop a plan for classwork if a long term closure would happen. Each grade level would have its own unique plan, with the length of closure playing a factor in the plan. We've also been fortunate enough to not have used any calamity days in the school year thus far.
4. The district’s maintenance team has a preventative plan for influenza season that they follow each year. With the developments of COVID-19, we have emphasized the evening sanitization process. In addition, the district has approved overtime for our maintenance staff in order to increase time disinfecting our schools, along with the regular deep clean that occurs each weekend. Bexley Schools' maintenance and staff are working in conjunction to ensure the sanitization process occurs throughout the school day, with teachers taking extra precautions--using disinfectant products within the classroom and encouraging students to use everyday preventative measures to avoid spreading germs. We have ensured there is an ample supply of sanitization products, such as disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer, throughout the buildings and within classrooms.
-- Chris Bournea/ThisWeek
Big Walnut Local Schools
Source: Angie Hamberg
We are working with the DGHD to plan and implement extra precautions (same for flu). We are also researching and planning for what we can do academically if we have to close school. This research includes collaborating with other districts at a meeting hosted by our Educational Service Center, participating in webinars and having internal planning meetings. Again, we have a rough draft of plans, which includes using Schoology, our online learning system. We will finalize details if necessary.
Our District Nurse is working closely with local health officials, just like she does with other communicable diseases. From a health standpoint, she is our point person.
Our goal is to be prepared. Our focus areas include increasing influenza precautions and preparing instructionally for a long-term closure.
-- Paul Comstock and Scott Hummel/ThisWeek
Columbus City Schools
The school district did not respond to ThisWeek's inquiry, but the following was posted on its website:
The health and safety of our Columbus City Schools students and staff is our top priority. We want to share the most current recommendations of the city, state and federal health authorities regarding health risks associated with the Coronavirus Disease officially known as (COVID-19).
Our school health personnel are in constant contact with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Columbus Public Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, we all have a part to play to keep our city, schools, and homes safe.
Below is a partial letter to parents and guardians:
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We are writing to provide you with an update about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the District’s efforts to ensure the health and safety of all students in our buildings.
Although cases of COVID-19 continue to be detected in the United State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still considers the risk to the general American public to be low at this time. ...
Columbus City Schools is working closely with Columbus Public Health to monitor the situation and develop a coordinated and comprehensive public health plan to ensure we are prepared if cases arise in our community.
Columbus City Schools will be prepared to implement public health recommendations as required. Updated information will be shared with the community and posted to https://www.ccsoh.us as it becomes available.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) recommends that families contact their primary care provider with questions, concerns or report of symptoms regarding COVID-19. ODH has also initiated a website https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/Novel-Coronavirus for up-to-date information and a call center 1-833-4ASKODH to provide information.
Delaware Area Career Center
Source: Alicia Mowry
1. The Delaware Area Career Center is putting student and staff health as our top priority. We are currently taking guidance from local and federal health departments as well as working with our staff to take necessary precautions to prevent an outbreak.
We are in communication with our DACC families and will continue to keep them updated with any new developments. In addition, the superintendents from the Delaware County school districts, local legislators, and the Delaware General Health District are working together to create a collaborative plan of action.
2. Our staff is already comfortable delivering curriculum online. We are looking at ways to expand our practices and provide the necessary tools to keep delivering a quality education should the district need to close. Most students have a 1-1 device and for those who do not, we will provide 1-1 access for all students in the event we need to close for an extended period of time.
3. At this time, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and no information indicating that we should cancel events or school. Should the need arise, we are prepared to take those necessary steps.
4. We ask that residents follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control on preventing the spread of germs and monitoring signs of symptoms. Simple ways to protect yourself and your family include:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Handwashing for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching face, eyes, nose, etc
• Stay home when you are sick and visit your doctor
• Cough or sneeze into a tissue and immediately throw the tissue in the trash
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces often
-- Paul Comstock/ThisWeek
Delaware City Schools
Source: Jennifer Ruhe
1. The health and safety of our staff and students is a top priority. Delaware City School District (DCS) is actively monitoring the Coronavirus 2019 situation and taking precautionary steps to help stop the spread of all viruses.
DCS is following CDC recommended practices to help stop the spread of viruses, including daily disinfection of hard surfaces in classrooms and our school buses. We continue to stress that individuals who are ill and have a fever need to stay home until they are fever free for at least 24 hours. We are in direct communication with our staff and families to communicate district preparedness and practices, and we will continue to keep our community informed as information changes.
2. At this time, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and there are currently no U.S. travel restrictions, so scheduled school activities continue as planned. We will closely monitor this situation and make adjustments if necessary.
3. We are working closely with local, state and federal health officials as well as the Ohio Department of Education to monitor and prepare for any impact COVID-19 may have on our community and schools including school closures. The district currently utilizes a variety of online instructional tools, and we are looking at other mechanisms that would enable us to continue to deliver quality instruction beyond our school walls should it be necessary.
4. Delaware City Schools continues to work collaboratively with other Delaware County and Central Ohio school districts to ensure we are sharing valuable resources and working together for the good of all students and communities. We are encouraging staff, students and families to follow good prevention practices including proper handwashing, covering a cough and staying home when you are ill.
-- Paul Comstock/ThisWeek
Dublin City Schools
Source: Doug Baker
1. In the event the virus becomes local, a team is already in place that will execute the recommendations of local, state, and federal health officials. We have established a web page resource for parents at this link: https://www.dublinschools.net/COVID19.aspx. We communicate with parents on March 2 and will continue to keep the web page updated as the situation evolves.
2. The District will be following local, state, and federal recommendations regarding travel. CDC travel guidelines are posted at this link. Our maintenance staff will continue to disinfect our classrooms and common spaces each day.
3. Online coursework would be available in that event.
4. Dublin City Schools officials have been closely following the latest information regarding COVID - 19, also known as the coronavirus. We are fully aware of the concerns regarding this virus. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has issued a set of guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus. The District will be following those guidelines. It takes all of us to prevent the spread of any virus. We encourage all students and parents to wash their hands frequently, and to please keep students home if they are feeling ill. The District will work with students and parents to make-up any missed class work due to illness. Please contact your student’s teacher(s) with any concerns you might have regarding missed classwork.
Our maintenance staff will continue to disinfect our classrooms and common spaces each day. A resource page for families has been posted at this link: https://www.dublinschools.net/COVID19.aspx
-- Sarah Sole/ThisWeek
Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools
Source: Steve Barrett
1. As a District, we continue to consult experts to make decisions related to school management and what our next steps might be if this disease continues to spread.
As a continued preventative measure, we are ensuring thorough cleaning is taking place in all of our school buildings and facilities. As usual, we are reminding students to practice frequent hand washing during this cold and flu season in an attempt to reduce the transmission of all viruses.
In the event a confirmed case occurs in our GJPS community, we will notify staff and families in the same manner that we do during inclement weather school closures. We will communicate through phone calls, emails, text messaging, website posting and social media pages.
2. At this time, we have two high school trips planned over spring break. We continue to monitor information provided by the CDC and will work with our local health departments before determining if it is safe for these trips to take place. Decisions to cancel events our students and staff look forward to are difficult, but we will take every precaution to keep our students safe and healthy.
3. A team of GJPS administrators is meeting regularly to share information from governmental health officials and to plan responses if needed.
While there are no plans to close schools at this time, the district is working on an instructional plan that will enable remote teaching and learning should we need to close school for any reason.
4. District leaders have met with public health officials to discuss procedures and protocols related to the COVID-19. While there are no reports of COVID-19 in Ohio, the risk to Ohioans in general remains low. We know this could change quickly and we will continue to proactively monitor all available information being shared by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Franklin County Public Health Department for guidance. We will work side by side with experts to determine next steps.
-- Marla K. Kuhlman/ThisWeek
Grandview Heights Schools
Source: Andy Culp
Below is a partial letter to students, staff and families:
Dear Students, Staff, and Families,
Safety is paramount in Grandview Heights Schools, and we continue to monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) and follow the guidance provided by local and federal health officials.
While there are no reports of the coronavirus in Ohio at this time, it is important that we are all informed and take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of any infectious diseases.
In the meantime, Grandview Heights Schools will continue to follow CDC recommendations to prevent any infection of a respiratory virus. As a school district we model these behaviors every day and we ask that you continue to reinforce these behaviors at home.
-- Alan Froman/ThisWeek
Hilliard City Schools
Source: Stacie Raterman
We will work closely with, and follow the directions of, the Franklin County, State and Federal Health Departments. We have canceled all student trips outside the continental United States.
Below is a partial letter to parents and guardians:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We are writing to provide you with an update about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the district’s efforts to ensure the health and safety of all students in our buildings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to the general American public to be low at this time. As of this week, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.
Our team is working closely with Franklin County Public Health to monitor the situation and develop a coordinated and comprehensive public health plan to ensure we are prepared if cases arise in our community.
As we head towards spring break, we know travel may be planned. There is community spread of COVID-19 in other countries and areas of the U.S. so we encourage you to check the CDC Travel Advisory page prior to your travels. …
-- Kevin Corvo/ThisWeek
New Albany-Plain Local Schools
Source: Patrick Gallaway
1. We will be working with local health officials as they will take the lead on guidance to the district. We attended a meeting on March 3 with representatives from Franklin County Health Department and several of the adjoining counties for a briefing. Many school districts were there for the meeting and will be utilizing unified messaging for our communities.
2. We are operating as normal when it comes to extracurriculars, field trips, etc. We are taking the guidance of health officials, the CDC, etc when it comes to international travel. For example, we have a trip scheduled for the summer to Italy, but we will wait to see how the situation changes as to whether it will be canceled. The company we work with for international travel, Education First, has also been very forthcoming with information.
Within our schools we have shared a great deal of information with parents, families, staff and students. It is all available on our website. We sent a communication to families March 3.
3. We are in the process of reviewing all of the legal and logistical issues that would need to be considered should a school or district closure be necessary.
4. As a district our best defense against the spread of respiratory viruses, including the coronavirus and influenza, is prevention and planning. By following the recommendations listed below, together we can reduce illness in our schools: More details on this and the detailed messaging we went to parents is here on our website and even on the home page.
-- Sarah Sole/ThisWeek
Olentangy Local Schools
Source: Kristyn Wilson
1. We are already communicating with district families. It’s important that they are aware that Olentangy leadership is working closely with local and state health officials on all matters related to coronavirus. In the event of an outbreak, we will follow instructions provided by health officials to minimize the spread of the disease.
2. We are reviewing all scheduled events in the upcoming weeks to assess risk and necessary precautions—which could include delays and cancelations.
3. We have plans in place that will allow teachers and students to continue to make progress this academic school year with minimal disruption. Many challenges can be fixed using technology and districtwide tools like Schoology.
4. We are working with local health officials on the best ways to keep our students, families and staff safe. We ask that families take a moment to learn more about coronavirus on the Delaware General Health District website.
-- Jim Fischer/ThisWeek
Source: Bob Blackburn
1. Prevention of the spread of diseases is something we practice daily with our students. Our school nurses are educated in the symptoms for the coronavirus and will continue working with the Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. During this time of the year(cold and flu season) we ask our custodians to increase their normal cleaning procedures. This also is being done by Petermann for our school buses. We are committed to the health and safety of our students and staff and will continue to monitor the situation and provide as needed.
2. At this time the CDC and the ODH have notified the public that the risk is low for the coronavirus. However, they continue to remind us that good hygiene and health habits is the best way to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases. This is information we have shared with our families. Currently all athletic events will continue as scheduled and we have not restricted field trips but since we are in our testing season, our students leaving the buildings are very much reduced at this time.
3. We plan to use the resources that we currently have. We are a one-to-one district so all our students have a device. We will need to make adjustments at the elementary level since we currently do not send their devices home. We use digital learning through a variety of different curriculum based programs that can be accessible from school or home. Some of these include Google Classroom, Aleks Math, i-Ready, APEX, and others. We have been using blizzard bags to address calamity days so this approach could also be used for any long-term closure.
4. We will continue working with the Ohio Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control to provide information and guidance to our families. The following is information we posted on our website and our principals have sent in their newsletters. We will continue updating our families as we receive additional information and guidance.
Reynoldsburg City Schools
Source: Valerie Wunder
Reynoldsburg City Schools spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said the district’s emergency management plan “includes everything from sanitation to instruction should an outbreak occur.”
In case of a long-term closure, the district would use online instruction and “blizzard bags,” similar to those used for winter calamity days, to distribute classwork.
About 20 high school students and three teachers were scheduled to travel to Spain next month but the district has pushed it to the summer at no additional cost, Wunder said.
Reynoldsburg is in contact with the Franklin County Public Health department and reminds people to monitor CDC guidance, practice good handwashing and hygiene and avoid contact with those who are sick.
“The health and safety of our students and staff is our number one priority, so while there have been no confirmed cases in Ohio as of today, (March 4, 2020) we are being proactive where we can,” Wunder said. The district is “also preparing for potential scenarios should implementation become required. We are also doing more than regular cleanings in our buildings.”
-- Kelley Youman/ThisWeek
South-Western City Schools
Source: Sandy Nekoloff
1. We have a communications action plan to keep all stakeholders (students, parents, staff members, administration, community, media, etc.) informed regarding the status of a school or the school district. If an outbreak were to occur, we have open and effective lines of communication with our public health officials and will alert students, parents, staff, and the community if we receive direction related to COVID-19.
2. As always, our school district works closely with public health officials and follow their recommendations to ensure the safety of everyone in our school community. To our knowledge, there have not been any guidelines provided to restrict travel that would affect our field trips, athletics, and extracurricular activities at this time. We respect our parents’ rights when determining if their child should or should not participate in an activity.
3. Learning in our schools primarily occurs inside classrooms with face-to-face teaching by certified instructors. With many of our families not having reliable Internet access, digital instruction would be very difficult. While we will be continuing to explore alternatives, we always have the option of treating a closure of this type as ‘calamity’ or ‘snow’ days and extending the school year as needed.
4. The South-Western City School District continues to follow the guidance of local, state, and federal health officials with regard to all communicable diseases. While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the State of Ohio, we continue to remind our school community that the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same preventions recommended for the spread of the flu and common cold.
As we are still in the cold and flu season, students, families, and staff members are encouraged to follow basic prevention guidelines against the flu and upper respiratory viruses ...
-- Alan Froman/ThisWeek
Upper Arlington Schools
Source: Karen Truett
1. We are working with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, other local school districts, the Franklin County Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Health to anticipate and prepare for many different scenarios. Every scenario would demand its own set of actions, but we would communicate any action plan to students, staff and families through all of our available communications channels - email, phone calls, website and social media.
2. When it comes to regular field trips and activities, we are following the advice of health officials and encouraging sanitary precautions such as thorough hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs with elbows and staying home when feeling at all ill.
Due to the fact it is a rapidly developing situation globally, we have also postponed school-sponsored overseas travel during our upcoming spring break. With ever-changing travel restrictions, we do not want to run the risk of having students experience trouble returning home.
3. Our one-to-one technology program puts us in a good position to continue our educational program virtually during the event of an extended closure. We understand that not all students take home their devices or have access to the internet, and we are currently making plans to deal with those issues as well. In the event of an extended closure, we would communicate with all parents and students using all available communication channels.
4. Safety is always top of mind in UA Schools, and we are working diligently to be prepared for any scenario that may present itself.
-- Nate Ellis/ThisWeek
Westerville City Schools
Source: John Kellogg
1. Please know that we continue to monitor coronavirus developments daily. We are in touch with and regularly review information from the Franklin County and Delaware County health departments, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Education, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We will be following their guidance on this matter. Our crisis manual is updated regularly to reflect current best practices and includes a section on pandemics, as well as other medical emergencies, to help guide our response in the event the virus is discovered and impacts us locally.
As part of their normal protocol during cold and flu season, school nurses have been monitoring the overall health of their school populations. They are also reminding staff and students of proven practices to stay healthy. As compared to other cold and flu seasons, our nurses have seen nothing out of the ordinary. However, they have been instructed to immediately contact district leadership if they identify a spike in illnesses or receive notice of a suspected case of coronavirus.
Our custodial staff continues its routine practice of cleaning schools daily to help prevent the spread of disease and common ailments such as the flu. Custodians are supplied with cleaning products that are proven to kill viral and bacterial strains of various diseases. Our custodial office also monitors attendance rates. Should a school’s student attendance fall below 90%, our standard practice is to perform an immediate deep cleaning of that facility using additional tools and products for this purpose.
2. One of our primary goals is to maintain safe and healthy school communities. At this time, the various health authorities with which the district partners have not called for additional protocols beyond those which we follow as a course of normal operations. We are in touch with the health agencies and anticipate their coordinated guidance in the near future regarding district-sponsored travel that our students may be participating in over spring break and at other times.
3. We encourage (district families) to become familiar with the possible signs of the flu or other illness, and to seek immediate medical attention if anyone begins exhibiting any of those symptoms. While there are no confirmed cases in our state at this time, information about the coronavirus in Ohio, as well as tips to remain healthy, can be found online at http://www.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Finally, please contact your child’s school as soon as you become aware of any physician-confirmed contagious infection of your child(ren) so the school can take appropriate preventative measures. We will keep our families informed and share any additional updates as necessary.
General statement from Greg Viebranz:
"The Ohio Revised Code includes a provision that allows school districts to make up missed days via web access for a variety of reasons, one of which is 'disease epidemic.' We would definitely exercise that option. We do exceed the minimum number of hours required for a school year, but if we experienced a longer-term closure that drew us closer to falling out of compliance, we would then determine other potential solutions for making up that missed time."
-- Marla K. Kuhlman/ThisWeek
Whitehall City Schools
Source: Ty Debevoise
1. We have a pandemic flu response plan in place that resides in our WCS Comprehensive School Safety Plan. This plan includes actions for before, during, and after an outbreak. As part of this plan, we will work closely with our local health authority, Franklin County Public Health, to ensure we are following guidelines and best practices as the situation dictates.
2. We stress hand washing and encouraging students to stay home when feeling sick. As of right now, we are not doing anything for precautions that we wouldn't normally do. We continue to stay in communication with FCPH for the latest direction and guidance.
3. There is no doubt that a closure is going to make educating our children challenging. The level of engagement is dependent on a child's access to technology in the home as some content can be delivered through online resources. However, our teachers are highly trained professionals and you can't replace that face to face contact so keeping up with the classwork is not a realistic expectation in a lengthy school closure.
4. The best thing we can tell our families right now in this moment is to keep your children at home if they are sick and to wash your hands multiple times per day. Preventing the spread of any kind of communicable and respiratory illness starts with those two simple precautions.
-- Kevin Corvo/ThisWeek
Source: Vicki Gnezda
1. We are and will work with the Columbus Health Department and follow their lead on actions that may need to be implemented. As of now, we are operating in a routine that is common for cold and flu season: following cleaning protocol at all of our buildings and reminding our students of the importance of thorough handwashing.
2. We are aware of the information about illnesses and are in communication with the Columbus Health Department. At this time, no trips or events have been canceled.
3. Should a long-term closure be recommended by the health department we will work with teachers and school principals to determine the best ways to help educate students during or after a closure.
-- Gary Seman Jr./ThisWeek
Below are excerpts from a March 10 letter from Superintendent Trent Bowers to residents:
Dear Worthington families,
The health of our students, families, and staff is of utmost concern. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently warned that parents and staff need to be prepared should we need to close schools for a period of time. We’re not there now and we may not get there but being prepared for this possibility is important.
The district is taking steps to minimize exposure and prepare for the potential school or district closure by following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Columbus Public Health, and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
How is the district preventing the spread of disease in school buildings/buses?
All buildings are cleaned and disinfected regularly with hospital-grade disinfectants as a standard practice in the district. Out of an abundance of caution, buildings will be cleaned and disinfected more often, and frequently-touched surfaces such as door handles, desks, water fountains, technology, etc. will be cleaned daily. Custodians will replace soap and hand sanitizers often. All buses will be disinfected daily, and the Food Service Department will continue to follow food safety practices and use approved disinfectants.
Are we considering closing school?
Educating our students is our top priority, and that needs to be done in a safe environment. We are working closely with local health officials to determine the best course of action as COVID-19 spreads across the country. If it is determined that school needs to be closed, we will give parents detailed information. At this time, we encourage parents to begin identifying childcare accommodations in the event school is closed.
If schools are closed, what is our remote education plan?
Should a long-term closure be recommended by the health department we will work with teachers and school principals to determine the best ways to help educate students during or after a closure.
Are there any district/school event cancellations at this time?
There are no district-related cancellations at this time; however, this is a rapidly changing situation. Right now, we ask all families to proceed with an abundance of caution.
The new public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 is for people at high risk to stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. For people who are not high risk, please take normal infectious disease precautions. In the event of a school closure, all after-school and extracurricular activities will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
This global health event impacts us all. It requires us to take careful precautions and to follow advice provided by public health experts. While this message outlines steps being taken by the district, we would like to remind parents that they have full discretion to make decisions regarding their children. We will continue to provide information as this situation develops.
Source: Bob Lee
1. We have established a task force that has already begun monitoring the evolving situation around the world and especially here in Central Ohio. We have also been in contact with members of our school community who are experts in this particular medical field, including an alumnus who is a disease prevention specialist at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Should the outbreak reach Central Ohio, we will consult with the Ohio Department of Health – just as we do with the reporting and documentation of all contagious illnesses – the CDC and the World Health Organization in order to make decisions about what is best for our school population.
2. We notified all of our families last week about what the school is currently doing to monitor and prepare for an outbreak (https://conta.cc/2vpeAec). We have increased the daily cleaning of our rooms and have distributed hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes throughout the school. We’ve also emphasized with our students and faculty/staff the keys to preventing the spread of germs such as vigorous hand-washing and staying home when sick, among other measures. As of now, only a spring break trip to China has been cancelled (decision was made in January). No other trips, athletic events or other extracurriculars have been altered.
3. We have planned extra training for our teachers to become better users of online resources and platforms for conducting their classes remotely. Starting on Monday, they will be meeting in groups after school to begin formulating ideas and strategizing the best ways to continue supporting and connecting with our students and families. We have a robust online learning management system that we use every day as a Google Apps School, which will help with any transition to more reliance on online learning. We have also been a member school of the Global Online Academy for several years now, so a number of our students and faculty members have already been involved in online courses that connected them with classrooms around the world. This has allowed us to observe and participate in effective online learning.
4. Should local conditions reach a point where online learning becomes a necessity, we will make sure our families have the necessary resources for their child(ren) to remain connected with their teachers and counselors.
-- Marla K. Kuhlman
1. Our standing emergency operating planning prioritizes action by leveraging global and national data, tracking absenteeism while monitoring and implementing the guidance of local, state and national public health experts. Our senior leadership team is focused on the school’s preparedness and response and is consulting with subject matter experts alongside the Wellington board of trustee leadership on a regular basis. As the COVID-19 situation evolves we will enact contingency planning based on a variety of scenarios.
Rather than waiting for an outbreak to occur, our school has built a communication framework in an attempt to centralize and streamline updates and parent resources from the school. You can visit the Wellington COVID-19 Update Center by visiting wellington.org/covid19 or following us on social. If an outbreak should occur, we would also enact our crisis communication plan.
2. We are beginning to make decisions on community events based on current Ohio Department of Health and CDC recommendations. We are in the process of determining which 2019-2020 school year events will be rescheduled, which can be hosted remotely and which ones will be canceled altogether. Over the coming days and weeks, we will be evaluating the remainder of our school year events based on how the COVID-19 situation progresses.
We are navigating athletic gatherings based on the recommendations of Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health
We are limiting potential vendors and visitors on campus.
Evaluating field trips and creating contingency alternatives if the need arises.
Because of the evolving nature of the global spread of COVID-19, we are continuing to monitor and assess next steps on our international travel programs scheduled for May 2020. We expect to make decisions regarding the program in the coming weeks and will continue to follow CDC recommendations while working closely with International SOS. Our top priority in this and all decisions is our students’ health and safety.
3. While there are no Wellington-associated cases of COVID-19, we are being proactive in an effort to prevent illness and continue the important work of the school. We are already in a good position with our approach to digital learning. With that said, we stand ready with additional distance learning infrastructure and processes, should we need them. At this time, in-person classes will continue as planned.
4. We continue to follow the guidance of the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC. The health and safety of our students and the broader community is our top priority.
Below is a copy of a letter by Dr. Jeff Terwin, head of school, that was sent March 10 to Wellington parents:
The school has been monitoring closely the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and providing regular updates to you as the situation evolves. Our senior leadership team is focused on the school’s preparedness and response and is consulting with subject matter experts alongside the board of trustee leadership on a regular basis. The health and safety of our students and the broader Wellington community remains our top priority.
While these updates are comprehensive, our goal is to keep you informed and apprised of our proactive approach to COVID-19:
Events: We are beginning to make decisions on community events based on current Ohio Department of Health and CDC recommendations. We are in the process of determining which 2019-2020 school year events will be rescheduled, which can be hosted remotely and which ones will be canceled altogether. Over the coming days and weeks, we will be evaluating the remainder of our school year events based on how the COVID-19 situation progresses.
Grandparents & Special Friends Day: Based on these conversations, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year's Grandparents and Special Friends Day, previously scheduled to be hosted at Wellington on Friday, May 8. We make this decision with a heavy heart and an abundance of caution based on the updated information from the Ohio Department of Health and CDC. These organizations advise that it is best to avoid crowded settings, especially older individuals and those with certain underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system. May 8 will remain an early dismissal day for all students.
Personal Travel: I continue to stress that for community members and families that are choosing to travel over the break, please consider the alert level of your trip destination and elect to self-quarantine as necessary upon your return based on international travel alerts provided by the U.S. Department of State and CDC. Community members that elect to self-quarantine should be assured that Wellington administrators and faculty will work with your student and family to arrange remote learning out of an abundance of caution. Please be advised that all Wellington employees will be practicing the same precautions, including mandatory self-reporting regarding travel and self-quarantining when warranted.
WISE International Travel: Because of the evolving nature of the global spread of COVID-19, we are continuing to monitor and assess next steps on our international travel programs scheduled for May 2020. We expect to make decisions regarding the program in the coming weeks and will continue to follow CDC recommendations while working closely with International SOS. Our top priority in this and all decisions is our students’ health and safety.
Online Learning: While there are no Wellington-associated cases of COVID-19, we know that there are at least three confirmed cases in Ohio, and we anticipate that this number will grow. We are being proactive in an effort to prevent illness and continue the important work of the school. With that said, we stand ready with distance learning infrastructure and processes, should we need them. At this time, in-person classes will continue as planned.
Update Center: As part of an effort to streamline and share information, we have published a dedicated webpage that will track all COVID-19 related information from Wellington. You can access that by clicking this link or clicking the blue button below.
Please know we will continue to monitor the situation and pivot as needed with the health and safety of our community as the top priority.
Check ThisWeekNEWS.com for updates.
Compiled by Scott Hummel, ThisWeek assistant managing editor, digital.