Officials' homework has Columbus School for Girls students going to class

CHRIS BOURNEA
editorial@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Columbus School for Girls, 65 S. Drexel Ave., has announced a reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year in which students will report to school four days a week, with one day of virtual instruction.

The first full day of in-person classes is set for Monday, Aug. 31, and CSG administrators said they are confident the plan will prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli said.

"We're very fortunate because of the size of our campus," she said. "We're able to maintain 6 feet of distance between students and faculty and staff at all times."

CSG expects to welcome 539 students this fall, CSG spokesperson Brittany Westbrook said.

In drafting the reopening plan, Ciccarelli said CSG formed several task forces that evaluated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and studied school-reopening plans throughout central Ohio, the United States and Europe. CSG also conducted a survey of all students' families, held parent focus groups and conducted a Zoom meeting with parents, faculty and staff to answer questions.

"We mapped out the school with the help of some architects. We made sure we did have the physical space to follow all the CDC guidelines," Ciccarelli said. "Logistically, we realized we could do what we needed to do and keep our students and our faculty and staff safe."

Students will report to classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and receive virtual instruction Wednesdays.

Before reporting to school, students must access an app and complete a daily questionnaire confirming they don't have coronavirus symptoms, Ciccarelli said. Staff and students will be required to wear masks and submit to regular temperature checks, and a cleaning crew will sanitize school facilities each day after classes.

In addition, staff and students have been given the option to choose full virtual instruction on a semester-by-semester basis, with 88% of students and 78% of staff opting to report in person and the remainder choosing the virtual option for the first semester, Ciccarelli said.

"We did have to hire some extra faculty and staff members. For the teachers who are working from home, we still have somebody that is monitoring those students," she said.

Following guidance from the state of Ohio, Ciccarelli said, CSG has allowed Upper School student athletes to participate in optional practices during the summer and recently began allowing athletics competitions. Students must wear masks when not actively engaged in physical activity and must submit to temperature checks.

"We were able to use athletics to preview and practice our safety measures" for in-person classes, Ciccarelli said. "We haven't had a single case of COVID."

Performing-arts activities will be conducted virtually for the first semester.

"We are not doing theater or choir or band or strings in person because that all requires being less than 6 feet away from each other," Ciccarelli said. "We're going to be doing some creative things online, and we hope to be in a position to offer these activities in person in the second semester."

As the first semester progresses, CSG administrators will monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in Franklin County, Ciccarelli said.

"If the cases go up and they get much higher, we have reserved the right to go all virtual," she said. "If we have any kind of an outbreak, we've got plans for quarantining."

For more information, go to columbusschoolforgirls.org.

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