Earlier this week, the schools of Ohio started their mandatory three-week closure, and local districts have been hard at work ensuring students can continue learning while enacting social distancing in an effort to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
In an effort to continue learning for students, Miami Trace Local Schools started its Distance Learning this week, a program designed to allow students and teachers to remotely work with one another to ensure the kids receive education while out of school. Though the program is designed for a number of application such as closures due to weather or disasters, it is a new program for the district.
“At the elementary school, they have put together more resources to send out to the students,” Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis said. “Online things they can do, supplemental materials and programs. They were sending that out this week as well because one of the pieces of feedback I know they received is that students had already moved through a lot of the work they were given.”
Lewis said because it is such a new program to the district, they are still running through a trial and error period. He also said they are continuing to wait for guidance from the state, but at this time he is not anticipating that students will return this year.
“We are putting some plans together on how to move forward if and when that decision comes,” Lewis said. “We are talking about some options, we had already discussed the potential of middle school students receiving devices and even grades three, four and five having devices go home with students. The middle school did have their devices sent home during this shutdown. If we are going longer we are considering doing the same for those other grades. We are trying to work through that and see how feasible that would be. We would have to work out distribution points or have them come to the campus to pick them up, but we started that conversation with the idea that we would not be back with students this school year.”
The superintendent continued by saying the main focus for them has been the new food service and getting meals to students. He said it has been a huge undertaking and they have had a great turnout of staff to assist.
“Our teachers are working from home, monitoring students online and helping them through challenges they may have,” Lewis said. “There has been a lot of communication between the teachers and the students and families. Both programs have been quite the undertaking and we are going to ramp up our food service next week with a couple more stops. I know the teachers have worked hard to put things together and they are the ones out in the trenches, communicating with the families and students, so we are waiting to see what we hear from the governor. I would like to thank all of our staff and all of the extra effort they are putting in with the Distance Learning and help with the food service. I also thank all of the families and students for being patient, I know it’s a challenge for everybody, but we are in this together and we are doing the best we can. This is a totally new challenge than we have ever faced and I think our community has really come together and done an excellent job. We just need to keep a positive attitude, work together and we will get through it together.”
The Washington Court House City School District also worked hard this week to start its Remote Learning program. Similar to the Distance Learning at Miami Trace, WCHCS has put together a plan to help educate students forced to stay away from school during this time.
“While this situation is not ideal, our staff has knocked it out of the park,” Trevor Patton, WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communications said. “Teachers have acclimated very quickly and are getting beyond creative with how they are approaching education with their students and remote learning. You would think that with school being out they may not be as engaged, but so far we have had so many teachers take note that all of their students logged in and did a week’s worth of work in a few days because they are eager to learn. The resiliency of every person, every Blue Lion, is incredible. We are working together and our students understand it’s not their fault or our fault, but we do have to deal with it the best we can and they are being receptive to it.”
Patton said on top of the online-based learning, they have worked to make copies available for those students who do not have internet at home and praised the work of the Big Blue Bus program which served over 10,000 breakfasts and lunches in just five days.
“Those kids can still come and get their education,” Patton said. “We have also had success in the Big Blue Bus program. We have given out 10,267 meals in five days, which is just insane to think about. It is not ideal, but everyone is taking (the situation) in stride and we are still able to engage our students, there is a lot of inspiration going on and we are still growing kids. At the end of the day, as long as we continue to engage, inspire and grow our students, then we are successful in our job and we are doing a good job of it.”
Patton explained staff members have continued to be in contact with the building principals and are utilizing programs such as Google Classroom to ensure communication is clear between all members of the district.
“Some of (what our principals are helping to do is) manage expectations and they are doing a great job of it,” Patton said. “We haven’t had any staff we could not get ahold of. I wish the community — and they can’t right now, that is the point of all of this — I wish they could see what is going on in the homes of these teachers. They are hard at work. It’s incredible to see. But the principals have expressed that staff have been communicating very well and are still able to manage the pieces they need to handle during this time.”
The information in this article was provided by Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis and Washington Court House City Schools Director of Marketing and Communication Trevor Patton. Stay with the Record-Herald as more updates become available.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.