We would first like to thank you for your patience, understanding, and support as we navigate through this unprecedented extended school closure. In advance, we want to thank our students, staff, and families who will need to exercise a great deal of flexibility in the coming weeks. The amount of kindness and support that our community has extended to help one another in this difficult time is a testament to the strength of our Sycamore Family. Please watch this quick video message from Superintendent Frank Forsthoefel.
We recognize this action causes disruption to established routines and expectations, disappointment and unease, but it was a necessary step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. We wanted to provide you with more information about what to expect over the coming weeks. Please continue to check your primary email address during this time for additional information and updates.
As previously shared, schools will be closed for the planned Spring Break and will remain closed March 23-April 3. Students will return to school on April 6, unless otherwise determined or extended by the state of Ohio. All seven buildings and District Offices will be closed to students and families during this time. All events and activities have been canceled during the extended break.
eLearning and Home Packets:
The district is treating the week of March 16-20 as our regularly scheduled Spring Break. This means no school work is expected to be completed during this time. Please enjoy this time with your students and families.
eLearning opportunities will be available for students in Grades 5-12. These assignments and lessons will be made available on Blackboard on March 23. Our staff has been instructed to only include lessons that help students review, reinforce, or extend what they have already learned at school. No summative assessments will be done during the extended closure or immediately following the break.
Students in Grades K-4 received packets of materials to take home on Friday, March 13. Students are not expected to work on those materials until after Spring Break.
All assignments and virtual office hours will be posted and easily identifiable on Blackboard.
Chromebooks and Responsible Use:
Students in Grades 5-12 have been instructed to take home their Chromebooks and chargers before Spring Break. The district’s Code of Conduct will be enforced during the extended closure. This includes the district’s Responsible Use Principles, which students signed at the beginning of the school year. Bill Fritz, Director of Technology, has sent an email to all students and families reiterating expectations and appropriate behavior on devices.
Google Hangouts may be used only for educational use during the extended closure. To minimize the risk of inappropriate use, only teacher-initiated and teacher-facilitated Google Hangouts will be allowed.
We recognize the responsibility this places on families and caregivers. We appreciate your assistance in helping keep students safe while using these devices at home.
We understand that not all families have access to wifi at home. If you need the internet at home, many telecom providers are offering enhanced services or free service. One opportunity is from Spectrum.Spectrum is now offering free broadband and wifi access for 60 days to households with K-12 students who do not already have a Spectrum subscription. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
All materials on Blackboard can be downloaded for future reference when you are not connected to the internet. Our buildings will not be accessible to students and families. However, you may be permitted to access our wifi from outside our buildings if needed.
Students can use Google Suites to complete work even if you are not connected to the internet. While offline, you can still create, view, and edit files on Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Click here for more information on how to use these tools offline.
The Technology Department has set up a hotline to provide support during the extended closure:
Help Desk (513) 686-1793
If you need assistance with your student’s device or need help with accessing materials, please contact the number or email above. This includes in the event a device breaks.
Students With Special Services:
Students receiving special education services will continue to receive the services
and accommodations in their IEPs to the extent possible during periods of alternative instruction. Additional information will be forthcoming from the Office of Students Services regarding addressing the impact this break in services may have on students with disabilities. IEP, ETR and 504 meetings scheduled during the closure may still be held remotely or rescheduled. Families directly impacted by this will be contacted by a member of their special education team and provided more information.
We are in the process of determining how third-quarter report cards will be disseminated to families. In the meantime, families can access student grades through Parent Portal or by clicking on the “Student Info Login” inside the Sycamore Community Schools mobile app.
Impact on Events and Activities:
We have some updated information regarding events and activities. Beginning March 16, all K-12 indoor and outdoor athletic practices, scrimmages, and games are now canceled until April 6 pending any additional directives from the state of OSHAA. This means that all athletic facilities, including the gyms and Gregory Center, are closed. This is in alignment with our GMC members and is the best decision given the current situation. Our coaches have been instructed to not organize informal workouts or practices.
All K-12 Fine Arts performances and practices are also postponed at this time. We will evaluate and notify you if and when events are rescheduled.
All school events, including all PTO-sponsored events, are also canceled. We will evaluate and notify you if and when events are rescheduled.
All events scheduled by outside groups are canceled until April 6.
Champions before and after school services are also canceled until April 6.
There have been no decisions made about events beyond April 6, including graduation, prom, and any end-of-year activities. The district will communicate any decisions with families as soon as they are reached.
Child Nutrition Services:
Sycamore Child Nutrition Services (CNS) will provide daily weekday meals for students beginning March 23. A cold lunch and cold breakfast for the following day will be delivered via our Sycamore Community School vans to the following locations for pick up:
- Hunt Park (on Victor Avenue next to the park) 12:00-12:30 p.m.
- Oakwood Park (parking lot near tennis courts) 12:00-12:30 p.m.
- Villages at Symmes Crossing (parking lot across from clubhouse) 12:00-12:30 p.m.
- Fields Ertel Townhomes (off of Mason Way Court near the mailboxes) 12:40-1:10 p.m.
- Olde Montgomery Apartments (Leasing Office parking lot west end near the swimming pool) 12:40-1:10 p.m.
Meals will be prepared in a sanitized and disinfected environment by staff who have undergone health screenings.
To gauge the number of meals being provided, CNS is asking interested families to fill out this Google Form. The information provided will be kept confidential. More information will be coming out via email before March 23.
The district is also working with Operation Give Back and Sycamore Bridges to provide additional assistance to families during the extended closure. Please visit Sycamore Bridges for information about how to make financial donations to fund the assembly of nonperishable food bags to supplement the student meals the district is providing. The Operation Give Back food pantry is also available to assist families. They can be reached at 513-489-2023 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Health and Medication Services:
We recognize the importance of consistent and continued care for our students who access our school-based therapy programming. The district continues to work with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on how to continue to provide access to mental health services and medication services starting with the week of March 23. Any specific questions or concerns should be directed to your student’s therapist. Please look for more information about how those services will be continued.
During these next few weeks, you may find yourself experiencing heightened responses to our current state of everyday living. We want to ensure you have access to resources to support you, and your loved ones, should you experience a need for increased care and support.
There are a variety of resources available to support individuals experiencing distress via phone or text messaging. The Crisis Hotline is available to support individuals in need 24/7, especially those experiencing increased distress as a result of COVID-19:
Talbert House Crisis Hotline:
- Text: 4Hope to 839863
- Call: (513) 281-CARE (2273)
Other available resources include:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
- 24-Hour text line: Text 4HOPE to 741741
- Call: 800-273-8255
- Cincinnati Children’s Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC): (513) 636-4124
- Hamilton County Mobile Crisis: (513) 584-5098
- Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center: (513) 961-4080
- Cincinnati Warmline is a safe, judgment-free way to talk to someone. The crisis prevention measure provides someone on the other end of the line who can provide emotional support. They can also connect you to a peer coach or support group, a mental health agency or general resources that can help with everyday life. (513) 931-WARM (9276) www.cincywarmline.org
Deep Cleaning Process:
Our custodial staff will take an even more aggressive approach to clean and disinfect all of our buildings during Spring Break. The district has secured safe disinfectant germ foggers for every classroom and school bus in the district. As each area is thoroughly disinfected, the area will be closed off and no one will have access until students and staff report back to school.
Other Resources While Your Students Are Home:
We understand that having students home for an extended period of time may place a burden on some families. Our intention is not to have students spending all of their time on electronic devices. Scholastic Learn at Home: 20 Days of Learning, Reading, and Inspiration is a great resource for families who are looking for educational activities to do at home.
If for any reason you need to contact your child’s school or District Office, please call (513) 686-1700 during regular business hours 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
The district is assessing and revising its plans on a daily basis as this situation rapidly changes.
Please continue to check your email throughout the break for additional information. Any modifications to dates/times of the closure or if other major announcements need to be made will be communicated via our mass notification, which includes phone calls, text messages, email, social media, mobile app notification and or district website.
Additional information will be coming to our staff via email. Please check your email regularly for information.
Again, we appreciate your patience and your thoughtfulness of others through this situation. We will get through this together #SycamoreStrong