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Columbus City Schools Goes Back To Drawing Board For Back-To-School Plans

Columbus Board of Education building on April 15, 2020.
David Holm
Columbus Board of Education building on April 15, 2020.

With Franklin County seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, Columbus City Schools leaders aren't entirely sure how the district will handle school in the fall.

Columbus City Schoolsannounced an initial plan for re-opening school at the beginning of July. Under the guidelines, K-8 students would have been required to wear masks and only attend school in-person some days of the week. Meanwhile, grades 9-12 would be entirely online for at least the first half of the year.

But superintendent Talisa Dixon says it's possible that all students will continue learning remotely.

Speaking on WOSU's All Sides With Ann Fisheron Thursday, Dixon said that the shift to remote learning wouldn't be possible without additional technology. The city already plans to use $7 million of federal relief money to purchase Chromebooks for some 20,000 students. 

“Technology had to be at the forefront. We needed to make sure our students had the devices,” Dixon says. “And we needed to change our curriculum needs so we had a more online curriculum.”

Dixon says the district will at least take measures to make sure students stay engaged at home.

“If we see students aren't logging on, we're going to have people that's gonna go to those homes, contact the parents, and see why the student does on engage on the online platform,” Dixon explains. 

Whether the district keeps learning remote will impact jobs like bus driving and other in-person services. Drivers will still transport charter and non-public school kids if the district moves to online, and Dixon says they could even be shifted to other unforeseen roles that help run the district. 

“What if parents need something? What if we need to get resources to families' homes?” Dixon says. “We can look at how we can use our transportation of people in a very different way.”

There is no set deadline for a finalized back-to-school plan. More than 150 community stakeholders – including parents, teachers and administrators – are on a board that will help make this decision.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.