If you’re a public school parent in Cleveland or know anyone who is, there’s a good chance your Facebook and Instagram feeds have been full of “back to school” photos over the last couple of weeks. Almost one year to the date (Friday, March 12), after a statewide shutdown of Ohio schools in March 2020, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District started bringing students back for a phased return to hybrid learning for students.
While District schools are just beginning to go back in person, there have been several community resource centers and informal “learning pods” for students and families who needed child care or learning support throughout the pandemic. Breakthrough Schools, for example, has implemented remote learning centers in partnership with Open Doors Academy, which they intend to continue for the remainder of the current school year. Sonya Terry, whose second-grader is a student at E-prep Woodland Hills, said keeping her son engaged with the online classes has been challenging, though his overall test scores have continued to improve. Terry said she looks forward to a return to in-person learning and reports feeling comfortable with the COVID-19 precautions that have been taken by the remote learning center he attends. “Math is starting to get a little harder,” she said, so she will appreciate direct time with his teachers for extra support.
Like many parents, Leo Scott, whose children attend Orchard STEM and Lincoln Park Academy, struggled with working full time and supporting his wife, who was home with their four children, all in different classes/grade levels. His older children returned to in-person learning last month, and “Their grades are already up,” he said. “I feel very good about it,” he notes, about the schools’ COVID-19 health and safety measures, reporting that the schools have no outside visitors (including parents) while reinforcing masks, physical distancing, and symptom screening for students and teachers.
Ronetta Stallworth, whose children attend Citizens Academy, is eager to return to in-person learning even though she knows it might not happen for them until the next school year. Even working part-time, the added cost of daycare has been a challenge for Stallworth, a concern she recently discussed with Anju Abdullah, her School Quality Navigator. Stallworth is hoping to find a learning center placement for her sons, ages 6 and 10. Like many six-year-olds, online learning has been a challenge for her youngest son. “It’s hard to keep him focused. He just gets up and dances!” While this may be developmentally appropriate for extended screen time at his age, it has been an ongoing concern for many young children’s parents during the pandemic. Stallworth is hoping that learning center staff might be more skilled at keeping him engaged in online lessons and re-directing him as needed.
Appreciation for their school community and teachers was a common narrative from the Cleveland families that we spoke with, including an appreciation for the individual attention students receive and the ability for parents/families to decide what they are most comfortable with for their child.
With just a couple of months left in the 2020-21 school year, school administrators are starting to consider learning options for the summer that might help fill in achievement gaps from remote learning. During his most recent hybrid learning update, Eric Gordon, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan School District, shared this message:
“While I am pleased with how well our students and families have transitioned to a Hybrid Learning model overall, I also recognize that each child’s success is dependent on his or her individual level of satisfaction with the school experience. For this reason, we are working to identify any student or family member who needs additional support to make their child’s hybrid or remote assignment a joyous and comfortable one, as it should be for all.”
If you or a family member struggles with any aspect of hybrid learning or school-related issues, please reach out to your student’s teacher or principal as the first point of contact.
Our School Quality Navigators and Ambassadors are also available to assist and guide families through school-related decision making. Visit our online Family Resource Center for information related to navigating school challenges, helping students at home, advocating for your student’s needs, and more. Anyone can use the form at the bottom of this page to make a referral or get in touch with our staff.