NCS Safe Restart letter, July 15

Please read the below message from incoming Superintendent David L. Lewis regarding the beginning of school for the 2020-21 school year: 

 

July 15, 2020


Good evening:


I am excited to begin my time with Newark City Schools — officially on July 31 — and look forward to meeting more staff, students and community members. This is a challenging time, but I promise to lead by example with the safety of students and staff as a top priority.

 

As we prepare for the start of the school year, we have been discussing a variety of options and considerations for resuming school this fall.

 

Newark City School District administrators have been working in partnership with the Licking County Health Department and other county schools to discuss and develop plans. Board of Education members, building principals and staff members have also been involved in discussions. The district surveyed parents in June with the goal of assessing comfort levels and gathering more ideas. 

 

Information about COVID-19 is changing quickly. Plans that we felt good about four weeks ago no longer work. We expect to release more information and our full plan for restarting school safely by the beginning of August. However, we wanted to share our current thoughts so that parents and staff can begin planning:

 

  • The start of school has been moved back by two days, to Thursday, Aug. 20. This will allow our staff to have extra time for professional development and planning prior to the first day of school. This time will be devoted toward equipping staff members with the tools to accommodate online learning for all students. We are also working on procedures for cleaning, social distancing, transportation and food service.

  • We are planning to begin the school year in a blended learning model. Students will be split up into two groups, attending school in-person two days and online three days every week. This will allow us to decrease class sizes and spread students out in-person.

  • We don’t know how long the blended model will last. We will make decisions about returning to full-time, in-person school in cooperation with the health department.

  • There are many precautions we are taking to help keep students and staff safe at school. These details will be shared more fully in a couple of weeks. All staff members will be supplied with a face mask and/or shield, gloves and hand sanitizer.

  • We know that some families may not be comfortable with in-person learning at this time. We will continue offering the fully online option of the Newark Digital Academy, which now serves students in grades K-12. More information about NDA and how to opt-in will be released alongside the full plan.

 

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be working on fine-tuning procedures and making sure that we have the safest possible environment for in-person learning, so that our students and staff members can feel comfortable while learning and teaching. It remains our goal to return to a regular school schedule and environment as soon as possible.

 

The key attributes that we all need right now are flexibility and patience. We know that plans we announce could change by the time school starts, and that it may all look different in a few months. We will communicate our plans on our district website, via all-call and email, and through social media as soon as they are complete. We greatly appreciate your support and patience as we work together to provide a safe and appropriate learning experience during these unprecedented times. Thank you.


Sincerely,


David L. Lewis

Superintendent


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