Dear Bloom-Carroll Community,
Let me begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to our students, parents, and staff for a wonderful start to the 20-21 school year. For months, district officials planned to ensure a safe and effective start to the year and I feel we have accomplished our goal. Over the past month, we have done the best we can with the resources available; however, there have certainly been challenges. As conditions fluctuate and needs arise, we must make modifications to better meet the needs of our students and staff.
In late July, I communicated with you the plan for the beginning of this school year. In our plan, we asked for patience and flexibility as we navigate the constantly changing conditions. All of us have had to learn what it is like to attend and operate a school during a pandemic. The Yellow Status (Hybrid Alternating Day) Schedule enabled us to implement safety requirements and recommendations in an orderly manner. It has never been our intention to remain on the Yellow Status Schedule for the duration of this school year. If we did, our students may potentially attend school for only 87 days between March 13, 2020 and August of 2021 – 17 months. We promised to monitor local conditions and adapt our plan accordingly to offer as much direct in-person instruction as possible.
During the past five weeks, our students have demonstrated their resiliency and adaptability. We have monitored local cases, and have kept an open line of communication with the Fairfield Department of Health. For the past six weeks, Fairfield County has remained at a Level 2 on the Ohio Public Health COVID-19 Risk Level Advisory System – down from a Level 3 throughout much of July and August. This week, Ohio has recorded its lowest COVID-19 positivity test rate (2.8%) since the pandemic began in March.
As a result, we are announcing our plan to discontinue our “Yellow Status Level” and we will implement a modified “Green Status Level.” Beginning Monday, October 5th, students attending in-person instruction will now do so five days per week. Students enrolled in our online Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) may remain in the program. Our staff has encountered challenges to support students choosing the online option. Because of this, we will be providing extra VLA planning and support time during the workday for teachers by adjusting our students’ dismissal time. Students in kindergarten through twelfth grade attending in-person five days per week will be dismissed forty-five (45) minutes early. The students’ school day schedule will be as follows:
- BC Middle & High Schools (Grades 5-12): 7:30 a.m. - 1:25 p.m.
- BC Intermediate School (Grades 3-4): 8:45 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
- BC Primary School (Grades K-2): 9:00 a.m. - 2:50 p.m.
The adjustment to our “Green Status” with modified release times provides our students attending in-person instruction to receive several more hours of instruction Monday through Friday. It also provides our teachers daily with the time they need to support our online students, and allows for additional cleaning and disinfecting of our buildings.
The District will continue to implement safety procedures and requirements. Per ODH orders, students and staff will continue to wear masks at school and on school buses. Buildings and buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily and we will continue to emphasize hand washing. Most importantly, all students and staff should continue to perform daily health checks for the symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home when ill.
I have listened to parents’ concerns about the academic, developmental, social, and emotional impacts of the pandemic on our students. As a parent of three BC students, I share those concerns for my own children, and for your children. As an educator, I also share the concerns expressed by our staff members. Every decision weighs heavily upon me. I fully understand these decisions are not comprehensively accepted. The vast majority of our students want to be in school as much as possible, and I believe we have an opportunity to do so while continuing to implement safety procedures. Over 343 of Ohio’s 612 public school districts have been operating on a five day per week schedule and many districts in the local area are also making adjustments from a hybrid to a more traditional schedule. The future remains uncertain, but we will always try to do what is best for our students as safely as possible with the resources available.
We will continue to monitor local conditions, work with local health officials, and adapt as necessary to the challenges that lie ahead.