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Columbus Health Commissioner Says Schools May Reopen For In-Person Instruction

State health officials Wednesday reported 988 new cases of COVID-19  and 48 new deaths. 

The state now has 117,584 cases and 4,044 deaths. 

Columbus Health Commissioner Doctor Mysheika Roberts says school students may return to in-person learning.  Roberts cites a five-week trend of decreasing COVID-19 cases in the city.  Columbus reported 75 cases on Tuesday, marking the eleventh straight day with less than 100 new cases. The state is expected to update its county-by-county Public Health Advisory System today, and Roberts hopes Franklin County will be downgraded to Level Two.  

At this point, the Columbus City Schools district plans to continue with its remote learning plan. Here's the full statement released last night:
Columbus City Schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year on September 8, in a completely virtual learning environment for all students in grades pre-K through 12. Our focus right now is the intensive professional development and training sessions for all CCS staff members this week and next. We are building the capacity of our staff to better serve our students and their families.

Our Operations team has also been preparing all of our school buildings and administrative sites so that they are ready with all of the proper health, safety, and social distancing measures in place when the time comes to welcome back our 50,000 students and 9,000 staff members in-person.

The first step in returning to in-person classes would be a blended learning model where students would learn at school two days a week and at home the remaining three days. Beginning this week, we have asked families to log on and select which two days of in-person learning they prefer in the blended model.

As we continue to assess our learning model for the school year and consider when we might return to in-person classes, we will be looking closely at the recommendations of Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts and her team regarding social distancing and health and safety protocols in our classrooms and on our school buses. We will also be talking with Dr. Roberts and her team to understand the numbers and the case count within our attendance boundaries and zip codes which are often different than Franklin County as a whole or the case counts in each of our suburban neighbors.

It is certainly good news for our community that we are seeing a steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases. Columbus City Schools will continue to do its part to help maintain that trend, which includes returning to in-person learning in the safest way possible. 

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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