Columbus City Schools are proceeding with plans to reopen under a blended learning model for some students February 1st -- before staff is vaccinated.
Columbus Public Health will administer the vaccine by appointment at the State Fairgrounds. Department director Doctor Mysheika Roberts says the pace of vaccinations in this phase will depend on how quickly doses are delivered from the state:
"In Phase 1B it's adults working in K-12 schools who could be around students. That would include your bus drivers. That would include your food service workers. We will have a gradual roll out, based on vaccine supply. So we will be asking districts in our jurisdiction to prioritize staff. The first week, if I have 2,000 doses, which 2,000 staff - based on who's going back into the classroom sooner - which 2,000 staff should we focus on? And then the next week as we get more doses, what's the next 2,000 should we focus on?"
High schoolers in tech programs at the Downtown High School and Ft. Hayes Career Center, Pre-K through 3rd graders, and select students with complex needs will return to a schedule of two days in class and three days online. The following week, 4th and 5th graders will return to hybrid learning.
Superintendent Talisa Dixon says she understands some parents are concerned about children returning to classrooms before all adults are vaccinated, and the all-online self-directed Digital Academy remains an option. She says a "hybrid-hybrid" model, where some students return to school for two days, and some in the same class remain online all week, is not feasible this year:
"Those options...we also had to go through union negotiations. We had MOUs [Memoranda of Understanding] that we had to have signed off on, so we worked with our union partners. Are there some additional options that we could possibly explore moving forward for next year? Yes, but we have decided on these options and agreed to these options with our union partners."
The Columbus Education Association remains concerned returning to the classroom before full vaccinations is a danger to teachers and staffers.