Grandview Heights Schools leaders home in on format for 2020-21

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

The Grandview Heights school board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, to approve the proposed paths for the 2020-21 school year and pave the way for a decision.

Superintendent Andy Culp is expected to present one of the proposed options as a final recommendation for board approval toward the end of July.

Grandview Heights Schools will open the new school year Aug. 13.

The school board met July 8 to continue reviewing the potential options.

It was the third time the board has met to discuss what school will look like when it reopens in the fall.

Since its previous meeting June 18, the district conducted a survey of parents, asking them if they would be willing to send their children back to school if Grandview adopted a hybrid or traditional learning model when the new school year opens.

A hybrid model would see students in classrooms part of the day and learning at home via computer for the rest of the day.

The district also could choose a traditional model, with students in class full time, or continue with remote learning as it did for the last two months of the 2019-20 school year.

A total of 953 parents, or 97.6%, said they would send their children back to school.

Only 23 parents, or 2.4%, said they would want to keep their students out of school entirely, Culp said.

Two of those parents have children at Stevenson Elementary School, 15 at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School and six at Grandview Heights High School.

A fourth option has been added to the traditional, hybrid and distance-learning pathways, Culp said.

No matter what option the district adopts, parents who are uncomfortable about sending their child back to school or cannot because of medical concerns will be able enroll their child in a full online learning academy, he said.

The online option will be offered in partnership with the Florida Virtual Academy.

The academy became the first fully accredited virtual learning school in 1997 and it is aligned with Ohio's learning standards, chief academic officer Jamie Lusher said.

"Our demographic is different, and to still be able to provide Spanish and global-language opportunities to our K-5 program, as well as being able to offer Advanced Placement courses, was a really important feature for us," she said.

The academy "is the best fit to Grandview," Culp said.

A Grandview teacher will serve as a local facilitator for the online academy.

"We will still personalize the experience for our students," Culp said.

If, for example, a junior is taking or wants to take a course that is not offered by the academy, the local staff member will be able to arrange for the student to participate in the course online, Culp said.

The board will need to approve funds to pay for the district's participation in the academy and to approve its coursework as Grandview coursework, board president Jesse Truett said.

The general cost is about $175 for each student who participates in the academy to have a subscription, Lusher said.

The district also would purchase courses for about $250 each, she said. Grandview would own the courses and house them in its Schoology management system.

"We wouldn't need the entire battery of courses," Lusher said. "We would want a significant amount to be able to provide not only core courses but technical subjects and related arts, as well."

The district also met with physicians who live in and have children attending Grandview Heights Schools to gather their feedback, Culp said.

"One of the key takeaways is that masks are the most important mitigating factor and should be required for all staff and students K-12," he said.

"That was the collective view of that group."

The physicians also agreed that 6 feet of social distancing is optimal, but 3 feet is acceptable if wearing masks is required, Culp said.

In line with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the group of local physicians agreed that the social, emotional, academic and behavioral benefits of having students return to school outweighs the risks of COVID-19, he said.

The local physicians also recommended the district wait as close as possible to the Aug. 13 start of school before making a final decision about which option to choose, because the COVID-19 situation is so fluid, Culp said.

A complete plan for each option is needed because of the strong likelihood that, at some point, Grandview would need to pivot from one option to another depending on changing COVID-19 factors, Culp said.

If students return to school full time, it will not be as normal, he said.

One idea that came out of the meeting with local physicians is starting the school year with a two-week hybrid period to give students time to adjust to the new protocols, Culp said. The district then could move to a traditional setting if there is no spike in COVID-19 cases.

The district sent out a detailed explanation of each pathway to families July 10.

Community members will be asked to give their feedback on each option ahead of the July 22 board meeting.

The board meeting will be livestreamed via the district's YouTube channel, Grandview Heights Schools.

Those who would like to speak during the public-participation portion of the meeting should email Hayley Head, executive assistant to the superintendent, at hayley.head@ghschools.org by 5 p.m. July 22.

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