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CMSD releases plan, announces all-remote first quarter





CMSD has released its plan for resuming school this fall and also has announced that all education will be conducted online for the first quarter.

CEO Eric Gordon cited a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County, CMSD’s improved ability to deliver virtual instruction and surveys that show many families and staff are uneasy about returning to buildings. The school board expressed strong support for the remote option.

The District will re-examine the learning model each quarter, all the while seeking input and monitoring public health risk. The CEO said schools will resume in-person education when it is “safe and practical to do so.”

“None of us has ever been through a pandemic,” said Gordon, who will provide the community with regular updates. “We need to continue to evaluate and adapt and grow our plan.”

The plan is titled "CMSD Excellence for All," and stresses the intent to ensure opportunity, equity and success for every student during the COVID-19 crisis. It was developed in close consultation with the District principals association and Cleveland Teachers Union.

Online learning will look different than it did in the spring. CMSD had to make an abrupt switch to remote learning when Gov. Mike DeWine closed school buildings to contain the coronavirus. The District focused instruction on enrichment as it mailed learning packets to homes and helped families gain access to reliable high-speed Internet in a city ranked as the fourth-worst connected in the nation.

Since then, the system has passed out more than 16,000 devices and nearly 10,000 hotspots. The schools also are partnering with the nonprofit DigitalC to make sure families are connected.

Gordon said students will work together in virtual classes; at other times they will complete homework on their own. The District has purchased a learning management system to track progress and provide intervention when needed.

“This will not be the same remote as last spring,” the CEO said. “It will be much more structured. We have had much more time to prepare.”

The CEO said schools will help develop individualized plans that meet the needs of families and students, including groups such as English language learners, the homeless and those in special education. The plans will take in a range of needs, from technology to where families get their meals. Schools also will help students, families and staff care for their social and emotional needs.

Year-round schools will resume on Monday, Aug. 24 and the rest will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. Teachers will undergo training and preparation for three weeks before their school is in session.

If students return to buildings this school year, the plan calls for strict social distancing, health monitoring and sanitizing guidelines based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Ohio Department of Health and Cleveland Department of Public Health. University Hospitals visited schools and provided a playbook for protecting health and safety.

Depending on conditions, schools could eventually switch to a hybrid model of in person and online learning. Precautions include sending different groups of students to school on different days, staggering their start and end times and operating more bus runs to allow separation of passengers.

To review the entire reopening plan, go here.