During the first Cincinnati Public Schools board meeting since Ohio Governor Mike DeWine first ordered schools to close on March 17 -- and then extended the deadline to May 1 -- the district laid out its updated plan for distance learning.
The pandemic has interrupted in-school learning, but the district says its going to ensure students don't fall through the cracks. Governor DeWine signed a bill that does a range of things, including waiving state testing requirements.
The district has addressed some groups in its plan, but during the call specifically addressed third-graders and high school seniors. All Cincinnati Public Schools third graders will move to the fourth grade next school year, thanks to the district's "Third Grade Reading Guarantee," a state program that makes sure students are on track for reading success by the end of third grade.
Deputy Superintendent Tianay Amat says the district is using test scores to be proactive in planning for next school year. "So when they come into fourth grade we can target interventions and close those gaps to ensure they're on grade level," she says.
Data from student performance, progress and math testing will be used to create individualized plans for next school year. The district says it's ready for summer school if the stay-at-home order gets lifted.
For high school students, The College Board will upload the AP test on April 3, and students will submit paper or online answers from home.
High school seniors must earn a minimum of 20 credit hours in specific areas by May 1 to be able to receive a diploma. Graduations for May have been canceled, but the district is looking to reschedule ceremonies for June and July.
Expectations Of Teachers And Principals
CPS teachers are required to respond to emails and Schoology messages within 24 hours. They must also communicate with families without internet access at least once a week. The district is requiring teachers to offer 20 office hours a week. Families can schedule appointments to keep in touch with teachers during that time.
Equity In Resources
Enrichment packets that have been handed out won't be graded. Students can access assignments on Schoology, CPS' website or pick up paper packets on April 6 and 13 from these five meal centers: Riverview East Academy, Roberts Academy, Oyler School, Parker Woods Montessori School and John P. Parker School. The packets currently aren't translated into other languages for English Language Learners, but district officials say translation services are available and they'll work on future packets being available in other languages.
Spectrum is offering free internet and wi-fi for CPS families for 60 days. Cincinnati Bell has set up internet hotspots throughout the city for people to access since libraries are closed.
Cincinnati Public Schools isn't sure how many of its students have access to technology. DeWine's order closing school buildings has raised concerns about students' access to technology and internet.
Superintendent Laura Mitchell says the district has a computer for all fourth through 12th grade students. But that doesn't mean students have access to those devices at home.
"We're looking at, quite honestly, what's the cost in terms of if we deploy – and I'm making this up – 10,000 devices," she says "and I only get 5,000 back in August."
She says some schools have take-home technology programs and others do not. The district was counting on returning to school on Monday, March 16, to devise a tech plan, but by that time, CPS decided to close because they felt the coronavirus risk was growing.
The district is purchasing iPads and has a Friday meeting to figure out the logistics of getting tech into families' hands.
Parents and students have also reported concerns about Schoology not consistently operating. Amat says the district is looking to expand the capacity of the server to keep up with the increased web traffic.