Westerville schools to phase in blended learning Sept. 21

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

The Westerville City School District plans to phase in students to blended learning beginning Sept. 21, after a full month of all remote learning.

Superintendent John Kellogg provided details of the plan Sept. 2 during a special school board meeting held virtually.

With improved conditions regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus, he said, the situation warrants moving to a blended model sooner than the Oct. 5 date the district had projected.

Excluding students who are enrolled in the Westerville Virtual Academy, in-person instruction will be phased in, allowing teachers and other staff to work with smaller groups of students to help them in the transition, according to Kellogg.

During this phase-in process, children at the elementary level will be assigned to cohorts and smaller groups of students will be identified within each cohort as Group 1 and Group 2. Families will be able to determine their child’s cohort and assigned group in PowerSchool, the parent portal on the district’s website, westerville.k12.oh.us.

Based on these groups, students will attend classes in person or remain home and take part in remote instruction.

“Phasing in our transition to blended learning will give teachers and other staff members time to work with students on important details about their school days and in-person instruction moving forward, as well as continued expectations for remote instructional days,” Kellogg said. “In addition to reviewing important details about classroom instruction, teachers and other staff will be covering things like new bus-safety procedures, how breakfast and lunch will work while at school, what recess time will look like, mask breaks, restroom use and many other procedural and health-related matters.”

At the secondary level, sixth-grade and ninth-grade students will have two days where they are the only students attending in person while all others from their school remain on remote instruction.

“Our phase-in at the secondary level also allows for some orientation time and is intended to help those students who are new to middle and high school be successful,” Kellogg said. “It’s going to allow our teachers and staff to support these incoming students by going beyond blended learning expectations and discussing life at the middle and high school level, in general.”

Rick Vilardo, school board president, said he strongly favors “a long runway” to transition to blended learning.

“I would not be in favor of a much more whiplash, get right back in kind of thing. … I like the on ramp, giving families, the community and teachers time to really think through what does this mean,” he said.

Families of students with special needs will receive information directly from the district’s Special Education Department regarding their instructional plans and important dates.

Transportation services for students are scheduled to begin Sept. 21, and families will receive these details soon, according to district officials.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla