On Wednesday, November 18, Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health issued a COVID-19 Health Advisory for the City of Columbus and Franklin County. The City of Columbus and Franklin County are experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, from a seven-day average of 143 on October 1st to 742 on November 15th. The number of hospitalizations in our region represents the highest number of patients at any time during the pandemic, which left unchecked poses a risk to our healthcare system; and the local positivity rate has increased from 3.7 percent during the week of September 20th to 12.5 percent as of last week. The Stay-At-Home advisory allows all higher education institutions and local school districts to maintain their current learning modalities which for Worthington is a Hybrid mode.
We believe it has been good for our students to have in-classroom instruction for the benefits of learning and student mental health. We’ve been hanging in there in hybrid learning. That said (and this probably isn’t a surprise to you), we are having more and more difficulty keeping our buildings and departments staffed and running each day.
It’s not just due to the number of COVID cases, although we are seeing more of those. It’s also due to the number of staff members who are on quarantine because someone they know has tested positive - it might be a spouse, a child or a friend. We also have a number of people who are out because they - or a member of their household - are feeling ill and are awaiting test results. All this comes at a time when substitutes in all areas of work are much, much harder to come by.
With all of that in mind and in hopes of providing consistent instruction and in response to the increasing COVID cases in the county and state, Worthington Schools will return to remote learning on Monday, November 23rd and continue remotely until Friday, December 18th. December 18th is the last day of classes before the winter break. We will take this action not because the virus is spreading between students but because of its accelerated spread in the general population, which ultimately could affect teachers and staff, keeping them at home and creating a classroom shortage. As we get closer to winter break and have better information available on current conditions, we will determine a path for after the break.
Our Board of Education will be asked to adopt this plan at the board meeting on November 23rd. We will return to our remote learning schedules utilized in September. Remember there are no blue/green days in remote learning and students will be engaged in instruction each day. Schools will send reminders to families over the next few days about class schedules during remote learning.
This year continues to be an adventure. As we look to next week please have a happy Thanksgiving and please find some time to rest and take care of yourself and those you love. We appreciate your continued patience as we strive to make the best decisions we can with the information we have during this pandemic.