Westerville school officials set up tools to share plans

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

The Westerville City School District has launched a weekly Back to School e-newsletter to share information with district families as it becomes available.

Greg Viebranz, the district's executive director of communications and technology, said the publication is being produced out of his office.

The first publication was released June 17 and is scheduled to come out weekly until the day before school begins on Aug. 13.

The district also has launched a Back to School webpage at wcsoh.org/backtoschool, where the e-newsletters can be found.

Viebranz said the district changed some internal processes to launch the Back to School webpage and announcements several weeks earlier than normal.

"The district hasn't set a deadline date to confirm for families what next year will look like," he said. "Clearly we realize they would like to have that information as soon as possible, and we're working to provide what we can once details become finalized."

Westerville families were asked to participate in a survey developed in partnership with Battelle Memorial Institute to help inform district decisions regarding the 2020-21 academic year in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to John Kellogg, district superintendent.

A survey was emailed to district families June 18, and Kellogg said he appreciated the feedback.

Viebranz said the survey didn't involve any other districts.

"We held a focus group with some members of Westerville Parent Council when developing the survey and appreciate their willingness to help us in this process," he said.

District teams over the past several weeks have been working on a responsible plan for reopening, Viebranz said.

He said the plan is being developed using information already collected from parents/guardians, students and staff, as well as new information obtained from the latest family survey.

School leaders are planning for the opening of school under the premise that there still will be a virus in the fall, there will not be a vaccine by the time school is set to open and there will be an expectation for teaching and learning to continue.

The district is planning with three possible scenarios, according to the e-newsletter.

A return to school will occur under one of three possible scenarios:

* Schools reopen under a 100% distance learning model

* Schools reopen under a 100% in-person instructional model

* Schools open under a hybrid model with some in-person instruction and some distance learning.

"There are about 300 various components we are working through regarding our return to school," Kellogg said in a press release. "Things can change rapidly and unexpectedly with the next state order or guidance from health officials, so everything we're doing now will allow us to be ready to respond to changing conditions and keep families informed as much as possible."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla