Dublin City Schools middle schoolers return to hybrid model starting Jan. 11
Approximately 2,600 students in grades 6 to 8 at Dublin City Schools’ four middle schools will return to classrooms Jan. 11 as the district resumes a hybrid educational model.
Dublin school board members unanimously approved the recommendation of Superintendent Todd Hoadley on Jan. 7 to transition the district’s middle school students from remote-only learning.
Under the hybrid model, half of the district’s middle school students will attend classes for a half day each day Mondays through Fridays to allow for the social distancing to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, said Doug Baker, the district's public-information officer.
The school district has about 3,800 students across its four middle schools – Davis, Grizzell, Karrer and Sells – but about 1,200 are enrolled in the district’s remote-learning academy, an option provided during the pandemic to allow students to learn remotely regardless of the district’s current educational modality.
Dublin middle and high school students last were in classroom Nov. 24.
When education resumed Nov. 30, after the Thanksgiving break, middle school and high school students moved from a hybrid model back to remote-only instruction after elevated levels of COVID-19 spread caused Franklin County to be downgraded from a Level 3 to a Level 4, Baker said.
Since then, Franklin County has been upgraded to a Level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System that measures the risk of coronavirus spread in Ohio's 88 counties.
It is one of multiple metrics the district had used in recommending to the board that middle school student resume in-person learning in the hybrid model, Hoadley said.
“We are ready to get middle school kids back to school,” said Hoadley, adding that the district has relied on the work of several COVID-19 committees, particularly the committee following data and metrics, whose members recommended a return to the hybrid model.
In addition to consulting Franklin County Public Health, the district also used CATS, or COVID-19 Analytics and Targeted Surveillance, an Ohio State University program that provides such districts as Dublin and neighboring Hilliard City Schools with data that could allow district leaders to look at COVID-19 spread in their community rather than relying solely on countywide data.
“We also had to make sure furniture was placed” and such operations as transportation and food-services were ready for a return to hybrid, Hoadley said.
The school board is scheduled to meet in a special session Jan. 11 to consider a recommendation from Hoadley that the district’s high school students at Coffman, Jerome and Scioto resume hybrid learning Jan. 19.
The district is closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18.
When high school students resume hybrid learning, it will be all five days, rather than four days, which was the case during the first semester last year, Hoadley said.
Unlike middle and elementary school students, with two groups of students attending a half-day of instruction each half-day, high school students attend a full day on alternating days, Baker said.
Students at Dublin’s 14 elementary schools have remained in the hybrid model since the start of the school year in September, Baker said.
It has not yet been determined when the district might resume full-time in-class learning.
“(But) it is the objective of this board (to get students back in class every day),” said board member Rick Weininger, who lauded Hoadley for keeping that goal “in his vision.”
Hoadley said the hope is that the district could do so by March, but it depends largely on vaccinations.
“We can’t mandate that (district) employees (get COVID-19 vaccinations),” but vaccinations are a factor in transitioning to all-in, Hoadley said.
The district currently has about 35 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and about 50 in quarantine, Hoadley said.
Franklin County Public Health, not Dublin schools, will administer vaccinations, but the district is working to make vaccinations available in the district.
The hope is that fewer “roadblocks” will increase the number of people who receive the vaccinations.
The district has about 2,000 “Tier 1B” employees who, after health-care workers and other high-priority individuals, are eligible for the vaccine, Hoadley said.
Tier 1B includes all “school employees,” Baker said.
“All-in is vaccine-dependent (and) driving down COVID numbers. ... The community needs to help us on that movement,” Hoadley said.