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Breaking News: Sycamore Schools Closes March 16-April 3 Amid COVID-19 Concerns

 

Governor Mike DeWine announced an unprecedented order today, all Ohio K-12 schools will be closed from March 16 through April 3 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Sycamore Community Schools will be closed from March 16-20 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. 

We would like to acknowledge all of the thoughtful questions and concerns that have been shared with us as we continue to build a comprehensive plan. We appreciate your patience as we adjust and adapt to this dynamic and unprecedented situation. This is just the first of many ongoing communication that you will receive. 

There are currently no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Sycamore Community Schools, and five confirmed cases in Ohio. 

Sycamore Community Schools continues to follow the directives of the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health, and Hamilton County Public Health. District administrators are meeting several times a day for updates from these agencies as well as to modify our responses to this health crisis. In short, we are prepared and ready to respond. 

E-Learning:

The Sycamore staff are preparing assignments and lessons that can be delivered electronically. Our teachers have been working this week in preparation for potential closure. These materials will not be accessible until after Spring Break (week of March 23). We appreciate your patience as we work to prepare lessons that help students review what they have learned, extend their knowledge, or reinforce individual student learning goals. 

Students in grades 5-12 will take home their Chromebooks and chargers before Spring Break. The district’s Code of Conduct will be enforced, therefore all rules still apply to the appropriate use of the device. Students in K-4 will receive packets of materials to take home on Friday, March 13 but they are not expected to work on those materials until after Spring Break (week of March 23.) All assignments and virtual office hours will be posted and easily identifiable on Blackboard

We recognize that remote lessons cannot fully replace face-face classroom instruction with a highly qualified teacher. Assignments are developmentally appropriate in length and breadth and include what students would typically be asked to complete in your classroom as a review, reinforcement, or extension of information already instructed in a prior classroom experience.

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. Families will receive additional information from the Office of Students Services regarding these next steps.

Technology Support:

We understand that not all families have access to wifi at home. 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. 

Technology Support will be available via Help Desk helpdesk@sycamoreschools.org

Impact on Upcoming Events and Activities:

As shared previously, all large events prior to Spring Break, are canceled. 

All K-12 athletic outdoor and indoor contests and scrimmages are canceled until April 6. Indoor contests, scrimmages, and practices will be canceled until April 6 pending any additional directives from the state or OSHAA. Outdoor practices can continue without access to locker rooms and athletic facilities. Non-conference contests and scrimmages will not be made up. Every effort will be made to reschedule in-conference contests and scrimmages. 

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.

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 is developing plans to provide meals for families starting with the week of March 23. The plan includes establishing several delivery locations in our local neighborhoods. We will provide more information on the exact dates and times of breakfast and lunch drop-offs. Please check your email for more information. 

Mental Health Services:

We recognize the importance of consistent and continued care for our students who access our school-based therapy programming. The district is working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on how to continue to provide access to mental health 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.

Medication Services:

Families who have children who take daily medications at school and will be in need of accessing these over the extended closure, please contact your school nurse to schedule a time to check out medications by Friday, March 13.

Spring Break Travel:

By law, the district cannot screen or monitor students or staff who have traveled outside of the local area. However, we strongly recommend staff and families who may be traveling during Spring Break follow all State Department advisories and CDC recommendations. The CDC warns this may include some limitations on movement and activity for up to 14 days. If a student or family member must practice social distancing or quarantine by the time school returns, the district will work with families to ensure that absences are excused and that teaching and learning can continue from home. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow the spread of this virus.

Deep Cleaning Process:

Our custodial staff has been diligent in their cleaning efforts throughout the cold and flu season. An aggressive, proactive approach to disinfecting classrooms and common spaces, including our athletic venues, has been taken since the onset of this situation. The district has secured safe disinfectant germ foggers for every classroom and school bus in the district and will utilize them when students and staff are not present. 

Continued Communication:

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 for our classified and certified staff will be communicated shortly regarding via email in regards to payroll and workday structure. 

The health, safety, and wellness of our students and staff are of the utmost importance to us. We understand the burden and inconvenience that this places on our students, staff, and families. We will work to ensure that learning continues during this difficult time and that our services continue to be provided to the extent possible. Thank you for your continued cooperation and understanding throughout this evolving situation. We will send further information to you as we receive it.