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CMSD To Start Spring Sports In February, Target April For In-Person Classes

Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) estimates about half of its students will be kept in remote learning by parents when CMSD moves to a schedule that includes in-person classes. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
photo of cleveland school bus

As vaccinations for school staff start this week, Cleveland’s public schools are planning for the subsequent resumption of in-person learning.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) CEO Eric Gordon told city council Monday he’s planning to restart spring sports later this month and estimates a return to a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning on or about April 5, the week after spring break.

Gordon said that date for a return to any in-person learning is just an estimate.

“We are in remote [classes] through Feb. 26 at this point,” Gordon said. “Once we see how the vaccination process works this week, I’ll be able to update the community.”

As of mid-January, Gordon had hoped CMSD could make the switch to hybrid classes sometime in March.

Gordon also told council Monday he plans to go ahead with the standard Feb. 22 resumption of activities for spring high school sports.

“So it’s baseball, softball, boys tennis and outdoor track and field,” Gordon said. “When we do move to hybrid, we also plan to implement our all-city arts programming. We already have plans in place for how to do socially distanced choir, orchestra, theater, those sorts of things.”

According to Cleveland’s Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults Tracy Martin-Thompson, the goal for the first week of shots is to administer vaccines to about 3,200 school staff members from public, non-public and charter schools at East Tech High School and Max Hayes High School in Cleveland.

“It goes beyond teachers and administrators,” Martin-Thompson said. “It includes bus drivers, security staff members, custodial staff members. All of the individuals that are critical to ensuring that schools are operating.”

Based on surveys conducted by the city, a little more than 6,000 Cleveland school staff members have agreed to be vaccinated, Martin-Thompson added, including CMSD staff and those from other schools.

Gordon said the goal is to administer the first dose to everyone who wants it by the end of next week, and to have the second round of doses done sometime in March.

Based on the school system’s most recent parent survey, almost half of CMSD students would be kept in all-remote learning after the teachers and staff are vaccinated and schools return to part-time, in-person learning

Gordon said that complicates the decision about when to move to hybrid learning.

“We certainly are obviously looking at the public health data, the vaccination data,” Gordon said. “But also the very incredible puzzle of how you cause the least disruption as possible with teachers and class assignments when half your kids are likely not to come back to the classroom while the other half do.”

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.