The Final Stretch

The Final Stretch
Posted on 12/13/2020
Superintendent David JamesThere are a couple of things on my mind as I write this to you, and, oddly enough, one is not COVID. It’s about school funding in Ohio. I want to, first of all, thank our CFO and Treasurer Ryan Pendleton for working for the past three years to help create a funding mechanism for public schools.

Led by state representatives Robert Cupp and John Patterson, the Cupp-Patterson formula’s base-cost funding plan was part of Ryan’s work. The legislation passed in the House last week, and the prospect of the Ohio Senate acting on a component bill is not good. With Ohio Senate action, Ohio would move toward solving a school funding problem that has plagued us for more than 20 years. Learn more: SUB House Bill 305.

The final months of the year are traditionally filled with a number of opportunities to celebrate with family, friends and co-workers. Of course, 2020 has been anything but a traditional year, thanks in no small part to the ongoing pandemic.

For our students, families and this community, as we continue to fight COVID-19 and work to slow the spread of it, it’s a good idea to take a moment and rethink how we celebrate during the upcoming holiday season.

While Akron Public Schools has used 100% remote learning since the beginning of this school year (and the final few months of spring), our main concern has and will be the safety of our students, staff and families. Some feel our approach has been too conservative, but we have followed closely the advice and guidance from our local, public health officials.

Now, in December, as the number of cases, and sadly of deaths, spikes, we feel we have done our very best to keep our students, et al, as safe as we possibly can with what we can actually control.

I would like to use this space to convey and reinforce some of the most important points directly to our community, from our public health professionals. So, as you plan your holidays, it’s important to first remember that in-person celebrations with only members of your own household or virtual celebrations using online video apps like Zoom and FaceTime will pose the lowest risk for infection and spread of COVID-19. Other in-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk, depending on a variety of factors including:
  • The current number of COVID-19 cases both in our own community and in any communities where potential out-of-town guests may be traveling from.
  • Indoor versus outdoor locations (indoors poses a greater risk).
  • The number of guests (more people = more risk).
  • The diligence of guests in practicing safe behaviors before and during the celebration.
If you are planning an in-person event, it’s a good idea to keep the following tips in mind to ensure that you’re creating as safe an environment as possible:
  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible.
  • Hold your celebration outside if you can. If your event is indoors, keep windows and doors open as weather allows to help with ventilation.
  • Provide supplies like extra masks, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content and tissues to help your guests practice safe behaviors when gathered together (or encourage attendees to bring their own).
  • Consider asking guests to wear masks when not actively eating and drinking.
  • Ask your guests to practice safe behaviors for 14 days before gathering, including avoiding contact with people outside of their households.
Many of us are accustomed to traveling during the holiday season, whether it’s a family celebration or a getaway. While travel does increase the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk and help protect yourself and others while traveling, including:
  • Wearing a face covering that covers your mouth and nose in public spaces.
  • Practicing social distancing by keeping a minimum of six feet between yourself and others.
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t readily available).
  • Staying away from those who are sick.
  • Staying home if you are sick.
  • Refraining from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
It’s also important to note that if you have COVID-19, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are at increased risk for severe illness resulting from COVID-19, you should not attend in-person celebrations or travel.

As with many things this year, the 2020 holiday season will look a bit different and will be a bit more complicated to navigate. And we don’t know what January through the end of this school year is to look like. At least, not at this time. Our hope is we will have a better view as we finish the holiday season and prepare for the final portion of our school year.

We cannot say often enough how much we want to see our students back in our classrooms. The decisions we have made for remote learning have created some divisions within our community, to be sure.

By following health and safety guidelines, we can celebrate family and holidays as safely as possible while ensuring that we’re doing what we can to defeat COVID-19, protect our health and make our community — and our holidays — as healthy as possible. And, ultimately, make it safe enough to start returning students to our classrooms.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.