The Loveland Board of Education held a special meeting on August 6, 2020 to discuss the progress report on the reopening of school for the 2020-2021 school year. Loveland has proposed two learning options for parents, an in-person model and a fully remote online academy taught by Loveland teachers.
Loveland Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse presented a status update to the Board about the in-person return to school option. Dr. Crouse shared the latest guidance from the Hamilton County Public Health Department and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
LJB, the pandemic preparedness and planning firm hired by the Board of Education, presented their initial assessment of the district’s six school buildings. Dawn Colombi, LJB’s Occupational and Environmental Health Leader and Safety Director, reported on the company’s progress update and the ability to return students to school safely.
Based on the latest health recommendations from the Hamilton County Public Health Department, schools should maintain at least six feet of physical distancing between student desks to prevent prolonged, close contact. LJB determined that Loveland can only meet this guideline if buildings have approximately 50% capacity. Based on LJB’s assessment of all of our buildings, Loveland could not accommodate a full capacity return to school with even three feet of physical distancing based on the limitations of our current facilities.
Colombi shared that to safely return to in-person learning, the district must have the ability to provide this six feet of physical distance which includes introducing layers such as barriers and space. Other health and safety measures that must be in place include hygiene (handwashing and sanitizing), enhanced cleaning practices, and face coverings. Monitoring your child’s symptoms daily and keeping them home when they are sick is critical.
Loveland City Schools will be starting the 2020-2021 school year in the 50 percent-capacity, or blended model. If families choose the in-person option on the family selection form, they are selecting this with the understanding that the school year will begin with this blended option. The selection form will remain open until 11:55 p.m. on August 9. The district’s plan is to continuously evaluate this blended model as it is our goal to return to full capacity in-person learning when possible.
Dr. Crouse stressed that the in-person option will require flexibility from families because of the changing health data. An increased number of local COVID-19 cases or the inability to fully staff could lead to remote learning for periods of time. Dr. Crouse also highlighted that the remote online academy offers maximum safety and provides a consistent schedule for families, students, and teachers. Parents must commit to the remote online academy by Sunday, August 9 through the same selection form.
Student schedules will be determined after the selection form closes on August 9. More specific details about individual student schedules will be developed around the number of families who wish to have their children attend school in person. This process will take place during the week of August 10. Transportation schedules cannot be determined until the final numbers are in place.
“We are working diligently to give children the best educational experience while keeping our students and staff safe. We understand that the school plans for this fall are extremely challenging for families to navigate,” said Dr. Crouse. “We are simply planning for something that no one has done before.”