The Family Connector
December 2, 2022
Letter From CCS Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon
Dear CCS Community,
I hope you all had a restful Wellness Week, a happy Thanksgiving, and a smooth return to school and work this week.
December is here and Winter Break is fast approaching - as are the colder temperatures. That means we need to ensure our students are dressing warmer and I cannot stress enough how important it is that we look out for one another.
If you know of a family or individual who needs warm clothing, or who may need help with rent, food, home repairs, and even presents for the holidays, please encourage them to reach out to our partners at Lutheran Social Services and the 2-1-1 helpline.
And if you are looking for an opportunity to donate, you might reach out to our friends at the Columbus Foundation. The Holiday Better Together program is a great way to give and strengthen the entire Columbus community.
With the colder temperatures also comes an exciting new location for our Pathway Express - the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Throughout the month, CCS students and families will receive FREE admission every weekend. I encourage you to join us and experience one of Central Ohio’s most cherished traditions, the Wildlights, and explore the incredible animal habitats - home to more than 600 species from around the world.
Families are also invited to join us for our monthly Family & Community Resources Day on Saturday, December 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. This event will feature:
Free admission to Wildlights;
Free winter coats for students;
New book bundles;
Finally, I’d like to remind you that we are updating ALL bus routes to address the unprecedented challenges we've experienced this school year. This means nearly every student who currently receives yellow bus transportation will likely have either a new bus driver, new route number(s), new pick-up and drop-off times, and/or a new bus stop location when we return from Winter Break on January 3.
The last two Virtual Family Engagement Sessions were dedicated to discussion of this mid-year action and our steps to improve how we engage and notify everyone about changes. If you were unable to attend, you can listen to the November 29 recording here and the December 1 recording here.
Families should check their Parent Portal and mailboxes for information regarding their student's new route in the coming weeks. Please also keep an eye on our website’s transportation hub for updated information.
Have a safe and wonderful weekend!
Superintendent/CEO, Columbus City Schools
Transportation Update: Bus Routes are Changing After Winter Break
Transportation Reliability Improvement Measures
Safely busing more than 38,000 students in Columbus each day to school and back home is a priority for the Columbus City Schools Transportation team. Just as important is our ability to be a reliable partner with parents and families, school staff, and stakeholders. However, the combined impacts of a national shortage of bus drivers and a routing software misstep created an unprecedented challenge to our transportation reliability.
We appreciate the grace shown by our community so far this school year as we’ve worked through this challenge, but we also understand the frustration and difficulty it’s placed on many of our families. That’s why we are implementing unprecedented measures to improve our transportation reliability moving forward.
Our Transportation Reliability Improvement Measures (TRIM) include the following:
1. Improving Bus Route Management
(Versatrans by TylerTechnologies) https://www.ccsoh.us/transportation
We are undertaking an unprecedented mid-year action to update ALL bus routes across the city, effective January 3. This means nearly every student who currently receives yellow bus transportation in Columbus (both CCS students and Charter/Non-Public students) will likely have a new bus driver, new pick-up and drop-off times, and/or a new bus stop location.
Click here to read more about the District's transportation update.
Is Your Parent Portal Account Activated?
Stay engaged in your child’s education by setting up and signing into the Columbus City Schools Parent Portal. Through the Parent Portal, you’ll be able to securely access valuable information on your student(s):
- Teacher Contact
- Grades and Course Schedules
- Daily Attendance
- Missed Assignments
- Paperless Applications for School Choice, Summer School, and Career Tech
- Update Contact Information
- Pay Fees
- Transportation Information
Our transportation team is implementing a new direct communication tool called EZDistrict, which will be used to send emails and text messages directly to parents when a bus route is delayed or uncovered.
The EZDistrict tool uses the contact information from the Parent Portal/Infinite Campus to send out messages to families. Please make sure that all contact information is up to date.
For more information on the Parent Portal or to set up your account, please visit the Parent Portal page or download the document below.
Weather Related School Closings
When winter weather forces classes to be cancelled, you need to know right away.
As winter weather approaches, Columbus City Schools is ready to help you plan ahead should the District be forced to cancel classes or shift to remote learning due to inclement weather or staffing challenges.
Our goal is to announce a class cancellation or transition to a remote learning model as soon as we can, so we are constantly monitoring weather forecasts and road conditions, and staff absences, and will make an announcement the night before whenever possible.
If weather conditions are such that a determination the night before is not possible, the Superintendent and her Operations team will make a decision no later than 5:30 a.m.
Once the decision has been made, the next step is to alert parents, teachers, and staff.
STAY CONNECTED: News about cancellations of classes, a shift to remote learning, or the cancellation of extra-curricular activities, field trips, and/or student-athletic events due to inclement weather or staffing challenges, are shared in several ways.
- Make sure the contact information on file at your child’s school is accurate. If you need to update this information, contact the main office in your child’s school or update online in Parent Portal. (This includes emergency contacts, phone numbers, and email addresses).
- All families and staff will be alerted through an automated call, email, and text message from the District’s phone system. It is important to have your updated contact information on file in order to receive this notification.
- Students should take their assigned Chromebook and charger home each night, should the decision be made to transition to remote learning.
- Follow Columbus City Schools on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or check our website. As soon as the decision is made to delay or cancel school, we’ll share news about school cancellations, transitioning to remote learning, and other schedule updates on our social media pages.
- Monitor the news on local television and radio stations.
For more information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.ccsoh.us/weather.
Virtual Family Engagement Session - Transportation Reliability Improvement
Safely busing more than 38,000 Columbus students each day is a priority for the Columbus City Schools Transportation team. Just as important is their ability to be a reliable partner with families. Unfortunately, unprecedented challenges to our transportation system this school year have left many parents frustrated by not knowing if their students’ buses would be late or not show up.
We dedicated two special Virtual Family Engagement Sessions this week to talk about the unprecedented mid-year action to update ALL bus routes plus the new steps to improve how we engage and notify everyone about changes.
Please click here to RSVP for upcoming Virtual Family Engagement Sessions.
Our sessions are recorded and posted in our Virtual Family Engagement Session Library in case you are unable to attend.
Pathway Express Destination #2 - Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
Pathway Express has allowed us to create fun, memorable experiences across the city for CCS students and families, and we can’t to bring three more exciting Pathway Express events throughout the school year. We're excited to partner with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for December's Pathway Express; the Ohio Statehouse (February); and Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. In addition to free admission to each of these locations, we’re also giving away prizes for families and schools each month.
Keep an eye out for more Pathway Express updates about FREE tickets for CCS families. We can't wait to experience one of Central Ohio's favorite holiday traditions with you!
Artist Photo of Little Brother Earns Entry in Art Exhibition
Jaliejhnae Brown, an 11th-grader at Africentric, was one of only 65 Ohio high school artists selected out of 250 for the Juried High School Art Exhibition at Otterbein. Her candid photo of her little brother could earn her a $2,000 prize. #OurCCS
There's Still Time to Stuff the Bus - Toy Drive with NBC4
We are collecting donations of new, unwrapped toys for children ages 12 and under. Be sure to look for donation boxes in schools and offices throughout the District. Don't see one? Ask your building custodian for the location.
You've still got time! Bus drivers will be collecting through December 7. Call the Office of Engagement if you have questions at 614.365.8868.
Join Us at Spruce Run Open House on Saturday, December 3!
Each month, Spruce Run will host a different theme! The theme for December: "Tis the Season."
The following activities will be available to open house guest:
* Winter is coming - learn about how animals live in the winter
* Make nature holiday crafts
* Participate in Holiday trivia
* Face painting
* Campfire activities
For more information, contact Heather Allen.
Columbus Metropolitan Library Winter Reading Challenge is Back!
Columbus Metropolitan Library is bringing back for a fifth year its Winter Reading Challenge, in which students can earn prizes by reading over break. A twist on CML’s Summer Reading Challenge, Winter Reading Challenge aims to keep reading skills strong when students are out of school over the holidays. From the beginning of December through Jan. 31, K-12 students can pick up a game board at CML’s 23 locations throughout Franklin County.
The annual program challenges students to track their progress as they read for 20 days and complete five activities on their game boards. Examples of game board activities include “Read a book about science,” “Read a book in a series,” “Read a book about a holiday” and many more. Just for signing up, students can select a prize from the library’s Treasure Box. Students who complete the program will earn a book to keep, as well as a drawstring bag.
Last winter, approximately 3,800 students participated in the program.
Studies show that kids who read during out-of-school time maintain reading skills that are critical to future school success. The Third Grade Reading Guarantee in Ohio means many central Ohio third graders could repeat the grade if they don’t pass state proficiency testing. This year’s Winter Reading Challenge is supported by Altrusa International of Columbus and Battelle.
For more information, visit columbuslibrary.org.
Looking for Volunteering Opportunities? Join Columbus PAL!
Are you looking to give back to the community? If you’re looking for an opportunity to get involved, consider volunteering with the Columbus Police Athletic League (PAL)! Columbus PAL is a new partnership between Recreation and Parks, the Division of Police and the Department of Neighborhoods that allows police officers and the general public the opportunity to work with youth ages 6-18 in organized sports and other programs.
Columbus PAL is set to launch this month, and volunteers are needed for the basketball program. If interested, visit Columbus PAL website to complete the online interest form!
Columbus Dance Theatre Presents Wonderment
Columbus Dance Theatre will premiere a ballet based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale, "The Snow Queen", titled "Wonderment". Shows will open to the public on Saturday, December 3, at 3:00pm and 8:00pm at the Riffe Davidson Theatre. Tickets for the public performances are available for purchase now. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets. Visit Columbus Dance Theatre for future shows and showtimes.
Columbus Division of Police to Host its Second Annual Cram A Cruiser Toy Drive
The Columbus Division of Police will be hosting its second annual “Cram A Cruiser” toy donation drive on Saturday, December 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Driving Park Community Center. Officers will be in the parking lot accepting new, unwrapped toys from those who wish to donate.
The toys collected will be dispersed to families of homicide victims and to those Central Ohio families in need.
The inaugural Cram A Cruiser event in 2021 allowed the Columbus Division of Police to provide gifts to 150+ children, many of whom were related to victims of violent crimes.
For more information, visit The Columbus Division of Police
Central Ohio Holiday Meal and Toy Assistance 2022
Clintonville Community Resource Center
14 W. Lakeview Ave. Columbus, OH 43202
Contact: (614) 268-3539
38 W Greenwood Ave Columbus, OH 43201
United Methodist Church & Community Development for All People
Free Store and Christmas Shop.
946 Parsons Ave, Columbus OH, 43206
Central Community House Christmas Food Basket Giveaway
1150 E Main St, Columbus, OH 43205
Contact: (614) 252-3157
1500 E 17th Ave, Columbus, OH 43219
Firefighters for Kids. To learn more and register for assistance with toys and gifts for children in Franklin County under the age of 14, Contact: 614-633-5259
P.E.E.R Center - Contact for additional information
East Center 205 N Hamilton Rd, Columbus, OH 43213
Contact: (614) 453-4830
860 / 866 West Broad St. Columbus, OH 43222
Contact: (614) 453-4840
Salvation Army Neighborhood Services (NSI)
1950 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201
Contact: (614) 297-0592
Victory Ministries Center of Hope
3964 East Main Street, Columbus, OH 43213
Contact: (614) 252-2500
Broad Street United Methodist Church (UMC) Outreach
501 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
Contact: (614) 221-4571
888 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206
Contact: (614) 445-8400
* Please note: Each agency has its own guidelines and availability of food and gifts. Please contact agencies directly to ensure holiday help is available. Many of these agencies require donation requests several weeks prior to the holiday. Please plan accordingly.