The Path to Opening Classrooms: Entering Phase 2
August 25, 2020: In a follow-up to her June announcement, Seeds President & CEO Bonnie Entler recently provided stakeholders with an update to her plans for reopening both the Seeds East (Kinsman & 139th) and Seeds West (W. 25th & Clark) classroom locations.
Just last week, the Governor released the updated statistics, showing that Cuyahoga County has been downgraded to the Orange Level. If this trend continues, and cases continue to drop, we can continue with our phased reopening plans!
Even with the disruption of the pandemic, we have continued our daily fight for adult literacy. Our efforts have made an impact in the lives of the 8 students who have graduated during the pandemic, our 6 section-passers, and the many students who are learning new skills daily through our virtual program offerings. This is remarkable progress given that we are only weeks into our fiscal year, amidst a pandemic!
Take a moment to reflect back on your own life and the rigors of studying when you were in school. Now imagine balancing that monumental task with the uncertainty of a pandemic, children at home, job insecurity, and more. Remarkable, indeed.
We must remember these achievements on the more difficult days, and we expect there will be at least a few. As we inch toward reopening, we’ve noticed additional barriers — nothing insurmountable, but threats to the forward momentum of our students’ educations.
CONFUSION WITH CMSD & SEEDS
The daily inquiries about our reopening increased exponentially when Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) announced in-person learning before ultimately retracting and announcing remote learning for the start of the year. Although Seeds tries to schedule our holiday breaks in coordination with CMSD (because so many of our students are parents of CMSD children), we remain an independent entity, with our own reopening plans.
This subtle distinction has caused some confusion for our students, and I imagine it will continue to do so until both CMSD and Seeds reopen.
DISRUPTION TO FLEXIBILITY
As we enter into Phase 2, staff members will continue the arduous process of scheduling students for their assessments and reassessments. We expect this will take weeks, if not months to complete, as we face more than 600 tests.
Scheduling time is in direct opposition to a hallmark of our program: open availability. But for the foreseeable future, individual students will be permitted in the building by appointment only. Because of the length of the test (roughly an hour per subject subtest), they will also have to be on time to ensure everyone can be reassessed as scheduled. Change is difficult for everyone, and this is certainly unlike the Seeds program everyone knows.
OUT OF STATE TESTS
Seeds has remained one of the few operational adult literacy programs during the pandemic and remote learning gave us the ability to extend our reach. Expansion has always been our dream so we’ve been delighted to accept students from out of state.
However, conducting assessment tests with these students will require a great deal of outreach to our (currently closed) counterparts in other locations. We’re still working on a plan to best serve the needs of our long-distance students, but what an exciting problem to have!
A REVISED PATH FOR REOPENING
This plan remains fluid and is in accordance with the CDC and guidance from the state and federal governments.
PHASE 1 – COMPLETE!
Staff members have been in the office for more than a month now and all remain in good health.
PHASE 2 – SLOWLY BEGINNING
Due to the volume of students who require assessment, this phase will take time. Weeks, not days. Perhaps a month, or more.
PHASE 3 – TO BE DETERMINED
Although we’d hoped to reopen in the fall, it may realistically be winter before we reopen the classrooms in even a limited capacity, potentially reducing hours and limiting days of the week. Remote learning will continue 4 days a week.
Cases of COVID-19 have only just begun to decrease. I would like to see them remain consistently low before bringing everyone together on site again.
Fortunately, this gives us time to fine-tune our program. There’s still plenty to do.
- Our website will undergo a transition to incorporate remote learning as a permanent program offering.
- Additional staff will be hired so that both classroom and remote learning are conducted with consistency, in tandem.
- I am rebuilding our internal leadership team with new hires to be announced soon.
- We’ll need to recruit even more tutors so we can fully serve our remote and in-class students.
- The Board of Directors is poised to execute our new strategic plan.
Overall, our forward progress continues and, although COVID has brought forth challenges, you can see it has also presented us with incredible opportunities.
BY THE NUMBERS
628 UPCOMING TESTS: The TABE and its reassessments require students to be in the classroom with a proctor. With the closure, the number of students needing assessment continues to grow.
8 GRADUATES: This is especially remarkable as testing centers have been, for the most part, closed!
6 SECTION PASSERS: Despite ongoing challenges in their lives, these students have shown incredible dedication to their studies!
200 NEW STUDENTS: Although our existing students have been hesitant to learn remotely, we’ve seen a number of adult learners come to us BECAUSE we’re offering remote education! In fact, without the limitations of location, we’re able to help people well beyond Northeast Ohio.
170 RECORDED LESSONS: Our video archives have never been so robust! We can’t thank our tutors enough for developing a huge library of video lessons.
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