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Cleveland Metro Schools Will Continue Remote Learning Through December

All Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) students will continue learning remotely through the district’s winter break, CEO Eric Gordon announced to families Friday.

In an email about the decision, Gordon pointed to the Cuyahoga County Health Department’s recommendation that all schools stick with a remote learning model. 

On Thursday, Cuyahoga County returned to the red or Level 3 on Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System, the second-highest warning status for coronavirus spread.

In an interview with ideastream, Gordon said Friday he originally intended to recommend to the CMSD Board of Education that schools move forward with a hybrid model for students who are struggling with online learning, “who need us the most.” 

“That would include students with disabilities, English-language learners, seniors who are off track for graduation, students that need their credentials,” said Gordon, referring to a hybrid model of in-person and on-line learning that would have been implemented in two phases. “And then later, pre-K through second grade. And then we would phase in winter athletics, with the exception of wrestling and swimming.”

However, Gordon said in conversations with county health officials, he and other CMSD officials were told the recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases was “fast and dramatic and did not look to be slowing,” so the district will remain virtual through Dec. 21.

“I did not make a decision about the full second quarter, though, because we need kids back in school and we know it,” Gordon said. “So, at least, setting our sights on getting through to our winter break, lets us get more in line-of-sight before we make longer decisions for next year.”

CMSD sent a survey to parents to gauge how they are feeling about remote learning and the prospect of moving their children back onto campus in some capacity. Gordon said he was expecting more parents to say their children should be back in class.

“About 5 percent more families actually signaled that they would prefer to remain in remote learning, which surprised me,” he said. “I thought that we'd see it trending the other way. So it's almost half and half. Half really want some kind of in-person learning. The other half kind of want to stay put.”

About one-third of the survey respondents said there was a family member at the student’s home with a health condition that put them particularly at risk when it comes to the coronavirus, Gordon also said.

Rethinking The School Year Across Northeast Ohio

The Cuyahoga County Health Department is currently recommending all students be taught virtually, leading many local school districts to .

The Strongsville School District planned to move from a hybrid model to an all-in person model next week, but has now called for an emergency school board meeting on the subject Friday night.  

Lakewood Schools was planning to welcome students on campus next week but instead announced Thursday a plan to continue teaching students remotely.

The Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights-University Heights school districts said officials are evaluating their teaching plans going forward.

The Parma School District planned to have students back on campus five days a week by mid-November, but announced Friday that all students will be taught remotely for the foreseeable future.

The district’s bulletin to families read, in part: “We indicated earlier this week that Nov. 16 was our target date for return to a five-day week. In this same statement we explained that we would monitor both the county's performance and our own data. Since our announcement, Cuyahoga County has returned to Level Three, or ‘Red’ status, three members of our school community have contracted COVID, and 22 staff members and 53 students are in quarantine.”

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