Loveland City School District Administration, Board, and staff continuing efforts to find best safe learning options for 2020-2021 school year

By Chuck Gibson 

LOVELAND, OH (August 7, 2020) – In a special progress meeting of the Loveland City School District (LCSD)  Board of Education Thursday evening, August 6, they learned the 5-day, full capacity classroom learning option is not a likely option for a safe return to learning for the 2020-2021 school year.  

LCSD School Board,, Administration and John Lape of LJB during virtual meeting Thursday, August 6, 2020 (Chuck Gibson) 

A progress report on planning and assessment for a safe return to learning in Loveland Schools was presented by LCSD Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse with Dawn Colombi from the contracted firm of LJB during the meeting which lasted more than two hours and thirty minutes. The report specified guidelines for safe social distancing in the schools (based on the 6-foot measure) could NOT be met in many classrooms of the Loveland schools in the full capacity return model. The presentation indicated safe guidelines recommended by the State and Hamilton County Public Health would likely only be met with 50-percent classroom capacity in-person.

Dr. Kathryn Lorenz, Loveland City School Distric Board of Education President (FILE)

The board and administration discussed possible solutions at length. (Click here to watch the video meeting online) For now, it was made clear families choosing the in-person option will do so with the understanding the school year will begin with a 50-percent capacity, or blended model. The selection form will remain open for families through 11:55 p.m. this Sunday, August 9. Any families who already made selections, but wish to change them due to the new information, can make the change by completing the selection survey again. Board president Dr. Kathryn Lorenz clarified LCSD has “reopened choice through Sunday, August 9,” – even for those who may have already completed the selection survey.

 “We are continuing to work and look at all possibilities to make this the most robust and safest education both those who are able to be in-person, and those who have chosen to be online for their safety,” said Lorenz. “The school is still working for a robust in-person education.”

Dr. Amy Crouse, Superintendent, Loveland City School District (Provided) 

Superintendent Amy Crouse pointed to the effort being made by LCSD to provide choice. Other surrounding school districts have indicated (of course this is subject to changing conditions) they will open with only the 50-percent classroom capacity model. Further, Crouse noted district to the north of Loveland in Franklin, Summit and Cuyahoga Counties will start the school year with remote learning only; no choice to provide in-person learning options at all.

 “We know it (COVID-19 cases) will happen,” said Crouse. “We’ve had two athletes test positive during summer practice. We are doing the best we can with what we know.”

Presentation of options for LCSD return (Chuck Gibson) 

It is not as though there is one right answer, or any one wrong answer. School board Vice President Michele Pettit doesn’t like the answers. Superintendent Crouse doesn’t like the answers. They all agreed everyone is committed to the effort, doing the work to solve the problems. Ultimately, it is a collaborative effort by the administration, board, staff and community as a whole that will burn away the fog of confusion and find the solution to serve the LCSD students and families.

“It’s a confusing time,” Lorenz said. “It’s a time when people have so many choices to make with so many particulars about the choices they have to make. We’re trying to offer as much choice and clarity as we can to the parents in the district. I feel it is a good thing we are still working on this; that we are still trying.”

From online presentation Thursday, August 6, 2020 (Chuck Gibson) 

The uncertainty and change throughout the process of planning to return to learning in the Loveland City School District may be disconcerting to families involved, but Lorenz has seen it as evidence of everyone working their hardest to adapt and find the best they can do. As they continue to work and adapt, Loveland Schools is now looking at what hybrid model of in-person learning may have to be used to return to learning on the current scheduled first day August 26.

Board and Administration of LCSD will meet again Tuesday, August 11, 2020 (Chuck Gibson) 

“A particular hybrid model is not back in the picture (at the time of this interview),” explained Lorenz. “The work on presenting a hybrid model is being done, or will be done, based on the final results of parents choices.”

 The exact number of families who choose remote learning and the number of families who choose in-person will determine the details of a hybrid plan they need to get students into the buildings for safe in-person learning.

Loveland City School District released more details in a “Tiger Talk” communication sent out during the afternoon today, Friday, August 07, 2020.

Here is the complete text of the Tiger Talk news from Loveland Schools:

District Update on School Return Model

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. If you’ve previously made a selection and would like to change it, you may do so by completing the survey again. Please reference the graphics below that detail the building-level blended plans. You can also find more details about each building’s blended plan in your student’s building newsletter that was emailed to you today. 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.

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.”

2020-2021 Selection Form: Grades K-4

2020-2021 Selection Form: Grades 5-12