COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus City Schools (CCS) outlined its plan for the 2021-22 school year this week, and it includes having students back in the classroom full time, five days a week.

Staff and students will still be required to follow COVID-19 guidelines as of now, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Sneeze guards will also be installed around desks.

After returning this spring with a blended learning model, CCS plans to keep that option open. The district plans to replace its current Digital Academy with BlendED. The program will be limited to 2,000 students and will offer full-time teacher support with flexibile scheduling. 

Students will also receive new electronic devices to use at home and school. 

Additionally, the district said it plans to resume fall sports, and all other extracurricular activities will continue with COVID-19 protocols in place.

CCS said it's open to negotiations on the plan and will schedule meetings in the next few weeks. 

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she believes conditions will improve enough between now and the fall for students to be in school full time. 

“Not only will we have vaccines for people who are over the age of 12, but we have an extraordinary amount of testing that we can be doing,” Walensky said. “So I think with the combination of testing and vaccination for our older populations — and I really hope decreased number of cases — that we should anticipate come September 2021 that schools should be full-fledged in-person and all of our children back in the classroom. And I will really look forward to that.”

Pfizer and BioNTech said Friday they are seeking full approval for its COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for Americans age 16 and older. The FDA is also set to authorize the vaccine for children 12- to 15-years-old by next week.