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The Path to Reopening Is Winding

Physical Classroom Reopening Unlikely This Fiscal Year

JANUARY 13, 2021 – (Cleveland) “The path to reopen is not straight,” President & CEO Bonnie Entler said in her most recent COVID-response update to stakeholders, issued the second week of the new year.

“Each of these messages to you is preceded by several weeks of cautious optimism that I’ll soon have exciting news to share. But the path to reopening is not straight. In fact, it doubles back on itself in places.

THE GOOD

Our Virtual Classroom is thriving!

We’re attracting students from all over Ohio, and from more than 8 states. The first week of January, a student in Michigan earned her GED, becoming our first out-of-state graduate!

We’ve also had several students from the Class of COVID — those who would have attended in person, but because of COVID, enrolled, attended, and graduated entirely online.

The team remains healthy!

Every member of the team remains healthy. In fact, some are even quarantining together to limit their exposure to the public. They’ve consistently tested negative. I hope to have them vaccinated with educators in the K-12 system.

Virtual testing is now available

Just this month, Ohio launched an online format for the GED for students to take the exam from home. Other states already offered this option and Ohio was one of the few holdouts. We are excited to make this available for our students.

TABE (Test of Basic Adult Education)

The baseline test that we give students at various intervals to check their progress is available online. For our students who have the digital skills and have access to internet and computers at home, testing can continue. For those students on the other side of the digital divide, testing will have to wait until we are able to go back to Phase 2.  

THE CHALLENGES

Pandemic impact on students

Our daily wellness calls are confirming what we hear in the media each day; our students and their families are overly burdened by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Students are definitely feeling the pressure of assisting their children with virtual learning, being essential workers, finding work after losing employment, dealing with COVID and other health issues, and managing the usual stressors of life. 

Vaccine uncertainty

The vaccine coming is certainly cause for celebration. But we can’t let our guard down now. As states, cities, and communities are left to develop their own vaccine roll-out plans, we don’t have a timeline for mass inoculation within the Seeds Family.

Concerns for safety

Emotions are mixed. While some students and tutors are eager to return right away, most adamantly refuse until their safety can be assured. The majority of our tutors (and a large portion of our students) fall into a high-risk category. I am not willing to risk the lives of any member of the Seeds Family.

WHAT NOW?

Although it was always premature to set hard dates, in the spring I was hopefully optimistic that we’d be in our classrooms by summer. By summer, I was still hopeful that it would be safe to return in the fall. By fall, I desperately hoped for winter.

And here we are at the start of a new year, and I’m asking you to adjust your expectations again. Will we make it back into our physical classrooms before the fiscal year ends June 30? Maybe. But likely not. We’re already planning for a second Virtual Graduation ceremony. (The silver lining to a virtual event is that our out-of-state graduates and tutors can participate! )


PHASE 3

At minimum, the following must happen to enter Phase 3:

  • Cases of COVID-19 must be on the decline, preferably for at least 2 weeks.
  • The vaccine must be widely distributed and taken by the majority of our Seeds Family.
  • Both our students and tutors must have a willingness to come back to the classroom.
  • Students will need to schedule their class sessions.

Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility, and support. Because of you, we’ve been able to continue our services, and help adults in YOUR community (and beyond) thrive. Stay safe, stay well, and stop the spread by staying home.”

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