COLUMNS

It's Worth It: Worthington Schools will make the best of back-to-school plan

TRENT BOWERS
Trent Bowers

Last month, Worthington Schools leaders released our back-to-school plan for the 2020-21 school year.

The plan was created based on months of work, including feedback from our staff members and families, weekly conversations with officials from Columbus Public Health and the Franklin County Public Health, guidance provided by state health and educational officials and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics.

We began the planning process immediately after the conclusion of the last school year, and as you can imagine, the situation changes nearly every day. Per the recommendations of both Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health, Worthington Schools will begin the school year with remote learning.

This isn't the way any of us wanted the school year to start. But we also know that this is temporary. We look forward to the day we can return safely to our classrooms and school buildings. That's why we have created a plan that can transition seamlessly from one learning model to another, as we anticipate the infection rates to change in the coming weeks.

When reopening schools, safety comes first. Our plan includes comprehensive health and safety protocols, such as mandatory mask requirements for all students and staff members, enhanced cleaning of our facilities, regular hand washing and sanitizing of high-touch areas, practicing social distancing and daily health assessments and temperature checks.

There's nothing we want more than to have our students back in our classrooms.

We are committed to bringing them back to school for the maximum amount of time based on the guidelines set forth by the governor and our health department.

Our plan includes three school-based instruction options, which align with Ohio's COVID-19 risk-level guidelines and are designed to pivot seamlessly from one scenario to another as the situation changes or if we need to close our physical school doors again. Whether it's in person, a hybrid learning model or remote learning, we are ready to provide the best learning experience possible under these less-than-ideal circumstances.

In addition, for those families who prefer to keep students home during this time, we are offering the Worthington Online Learning Academy. By providing two learning pathways, families have a choice to decide which option best fits the many different needs and situations they are facing right now.

Since we released our plan, several community and staff members have reached out with concerns and affirmations. This feedback let us know that we are on the right track while also giving us suggestions on ways to make the plan better. Thank you for your help.

This was not the back-to-school planning any of us had hoped for, and we know the situation could change between now and the start of school. Although there is no perfect back-to-school plan for this year, each week, we will work to serve the students of Worthington as best we can.

Trent Bowers is superintendent of Worthington Schools. Write to him at tbowers@wscloud.org.