At the Board of Education meeting last night the board approved a transition to All-In instruction on Monday, March 22nd.
This is revised from my original thought of April 5th because 1,150 Worthington staff members had received their first dose of the vaccine by Saturday, February 13th meaning that they should receive their second vaccine dose by March 6th and be fully protected around March 20th. Additionally, March 22nd is more in line with Dublin, Hilliard, Olentangy and Bexley.
By moving All-In on March 22nd we continue to protect our staff by waiting for full protection, and we gain back some valuable instructional time before Spring Break while having the last 8 weeks of school with our students All-In. This also sets the standard that we will be All-In next school year.
My rationale for moving to All-In at this point would be that:
- Over the last few months we have seen that our concerns that schools could be places of high spread because they are congregate settings have not been realized in some communities. (Large suburban districts such as Mason and Lakota in Cincinnati, Big Walnut in the OCC, private schools such as Watterson,etc…)
- While community spread continues to be high as defined by the CDC, we see a significant decline in our CATS numbers week after week and schools have proven to be safe places with low infection rates. This finding supports the benefits of using multiple mitigation strategies including masks, social distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices, and hand washing as a means of preventing spread in schools.
- The addition of the opportunity to vaccinate staff is another mitigation strategy that provides protection.
- This additional strategy offers the opportunity to move all students back to school with all mitigation strategies still in place with a modification to the social distancing standard.
Guidelines effective March 22nd include:
- All safety protocols will remain in place.
- We will work to maintain a minimum of 3 feet of social distancing in classroom settings and 6 feet during lunch times. (Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation from January 29, 2021 supports 3 feet of distancing with masks in classrooms and on school buses.)
- Face masks must continue to be worn at all times. Double masking is encouraged.
- Practicing regular good hygiene-washing hands, hand sanitizer will continue.
- Quarantine guidelines remain unchanged (even if vaccination has occurred)
Currently, the Ohio Department of Health recommendations for quarantine include the following steps:
- Identify close contacts
- Confirm face coverings and safety protocols were in place
- If a student is found to be within 3 feet of a person who tested positive with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes, the student must quarantine from school and all other activities. If a student is found to be between 3 feet and 6 feet of a person who tested positive with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes while wearing masks, the student may attend school but must be quarantined for 10 days from after-school activities, including sports. Finally, if a student is found to be more than 6 feet of a person who tested positive with COVID-19, the student does not need to be quarantined.
By March 22nd it will have been over a year since all students were in our schools. It’s simply time for that to change as we know our students and families need the routine of school and the academic and social benefits that daily school provides.
This will be another large transition for our schools, students, and families in a year where each transition has been very difficult. Hopefully, this is the last transition we make and we continue in this learning mode for the remainder of the school year.
On Wednesday we will communicate to all Worthington families an “All-In” FAQ as well as an updated hybrid calendar for March. In the coming weeks our principals will communicate specifics about each of our schools.
- Trent Bowers, Superintendent