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Board Meeting Highlight (September 15, 2020): Superintendent's Report

Dr. Talisa Dixon gave her regular Superintendent's Report at the September 15, 2020 Board of Education meeting. You can watch it above, or read a text and see a PDF of the report below.

We have had a successful start to the new school year, as we welcomed back all of our students to their virtual classrooms last week. Together, we are RISING UP to support our students and their families in this new learning environment. Across the city, we have students actively engaged online with their teachers and with their curriculum. 

Opening schools in a completely virtual environment has at times proved successful and at other times challenging. We knew that this learning model would not come without minor setbacks and frustrations, but I am proud of how everyone in our District stepped up to respond, troubleshoot, and assist.

Our Engagement team and Family Ambassadors were critical in providing timely information and assistance to families last week, hosting Virtual Family Engagement sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. We had several hundred people log in for the Tuesday session to ask questions and get technology tips to help during remote learning.

On Thursday, our Family Ambassadors provided information, tools, and strategies for all families to create engaging, educational spaces for their students at home. 

Also on Thursday, I had the opportunity to participate in a Facebook Live event with Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady to talk about our opening and answer questions from community members.

While our students in Kindergarten through 12th grade started virtual classes last week, today was the first day for our pre-K students. We have 1,131 (eleven hundred and thirty-one) students enrolled in our early childhood program. We still have seats available, for both special needs and typical students, in our pre-K classes for those families who are interested. Contact Central Enrollment to register.

I was able to visit two schools last week -- one virtual and one in-person -- and I plan to make more visits this week including to our virtual pre-K classrooms.

On Tuesday, I visited the teachers and staff at Southwood Elementary to experience first-hand the amazing teaching and learning happening on day one.

On Wednesday, I joined a few virtual classes at Oakmont Elementary to get the perspective of our students and families logging on. The teachers were engaging and, perhaps more importantly, patient with all participants as they learned new expectations and procedures for virtual classrooms.

I commend the work of all of our educators district-wide for their efforts in the strong start to the school year. I know we all wish we could be back in the classroom with in-person learning, but until we are able to safely do so, we must do our very best to provide meaningful and rigorous learning experiences for our students.

Chromebook Distribution Data

We know that in a completely virtual learning environment, the most important resource for our students is technology. That is why we have placed such an emphasis on getting Chromebooks in the hands of as many students as possible this fall. We held our Gear Up distribution events at each of our schools over past two weeks.

Combined with the number of Chromebooks we distributed last spring, we have now loaned out more than 35,000 student devices district-wide. This total includes more than 19,000 Chromebooks that were distributed during the Gear Up events this month.

If any families are listening and still need a device for their students, I encourage you to reach out to your school principal. We still have Chromebooks available and want to ensure that any student who needs a device is able to access one.

Student Enrollment Data

As the largest school district in the state, it is important to keep track of our annual student enrollment data. As of this Monday, September 14, we have 48,704 students enrolled in Columbus City Schools.

This total includes 45,332 students engaged in remote learning and 3,372 students engaged in our self-paced Digital Academy.

When we closed registration for the Digital Academy on August 1, we had more than 5,800 students enrolled. However, since then many of our families have chosen to move their students from the self-paced Digital Academy to our remote learning model with their home schools.

Meal Distribution Data

Beginning last week, we expanded our food distribution program to 44 sites across the district. Every Wednesday -- from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- families are able to pick up a free weekly five-day meal pack for any child 18 and under while our students are learning in our remote environment.

The meal packs contain five days of breakfasts and five days of lunches boxed together. To make it easy, we have assigned families a specific grab-and-go location close to their home. If a family does not know their meal site location, they can call their school office or our Factline to find out this information.

During the first week of our expanded program, we distributed a total of 147,470 meals across the 44 sites. You can see on the slide the breakdown by region and by time period.

Thank you to our Food Services staff who have served on the frontlines of our pandemic response, helping to feed our community’s children. Since last March, our Food Services staff has provided more than half-a-million meals to young people throughout our entire community. These are staff members who have truly been rising up to support our students and families.

Nationwide Children’s Grant

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to participate in a press conference to announce that Nationwide Children’s Hospital received a $2.5 million grant to support and expand its school-based adolescent healthcare services within Columbus City Schools.

The Office of Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who will partner with CCS, The Ohio State University, the City of Columbus, and CelebrateOne to take aim at reducing the infant mortality rate in our community.

During the three-year project, 7,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students are expected to be impacted. This work builds on the existing collaboration between the organizations, which includes 11 school-based health clinics in CCS and teen reproductive health education.

We look forward to this partnership and expect that it will help reduce the health disparities and inequities in our community by improving and expanding services to more students throughout the District who might otherwise not receive them. 

Centennial Merit Scholar

Congratulations to Centennial High School senior Jada Bledsoe, who was named a 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalist last week.

Jada now has the opportunity to compete for the National Merit Scholarships that are worth more than $30 million. The scholarship winners will be announced next spring.

Congratulations, Jada! I speak for all of Columbus City Schools in saying that we are proud of your accomplishments and wish you the best as you compete to become a finalist.


Many of our fall sports teams are starting games and competitions this week, including cross country, golf, football, soccer, girls tennis, and volleyball. In order to safely hold these contests, we have implemented procedures that align with sport-specific guidelines as outlined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

The complete details of our athletics health and safety plan are available on our website and have been provided to principals, athletic directors, and coaches. I want to highlight some of the procedures tonight

  • All players, coaches, officials, and spectators must conduct daily COVID-19 symptom assessments. Anyone experiencing symptoms must stay home.
  • Athletes and coaches must wear face coverings when not on the field or court. Face coverings are required for all game personnel.
  • Cloth face coverings are permissible for athletes while engaged in active play.
  • Athletes are not to share water bottles.
  • Participants must maintain 6 feet of social distancing when not on the field or court.
  • The visiting team is to arrive dressed in partial or full uniforms and should plan to leave the facility in partial or full uniforms.

Specifically for spectators at our games, the guidelines include:

  • Spectators will be limited to two tickets per student-athlete participating in the contest. No general admission tickets will be sold.
  • Spectators are expected to maintain 6 feet of social distancing from others who are not in their household while anywhere in the facility.
  • Spectators are required to wear face coverings while in the facility.
  • Concessions will not be available.
  • No re-entry is permitted, and spectators will be required to exit the facility immediately following the game.
  • Tailgating is not permitted.
  • Gates will open a half-hour before the contest begins.

We thank everyone -- coaches, athletes, officials, spectators -- for following the guidelines so can safely allow our students to participate in games and activities this fall.

State Report Card

The Ohio Department of Education released the annual state report cards for all school districts today. This year’s report card looks significantly different from those in years past. As you know, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state tests were canceled in the spring. As a result, the scope of the data released today is limited. 

Click here to learn more about this year’s state report card.