Reynoldsburg City Schools launched a hotline Wednesday, March 18, to better connect district residents to community resources in the wake of school closings mandated by the state to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Superintendent Melvin Brown said the line will be staffed by district employees from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with information on district and community resources like food pantries, clothing and unemployment resources. The number is 614-501-1020.

“This is a constantly evolving situation, and we will be doing our best to provide our students, staff and families with the most current updates available as it pertains to our school district. During this unprecedented time, we need to exhibit calm, grace, patience, and understanding as we navigate this together. We are providing this guidance to assist us in maintaining some normalcy through this process,” Brown wrote in a March 17 letter to parents. “This crisis impacts the entire state, along with the nation and the world. We thank everyone for your cooperation and understanding during this very unusual and challenging time. We encourage you to take care of yourselves, your loved ones and to exercise the appropriate precautions.”

Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered all schools to close March 17 through at least April 3, although he has said the closure could extend to the rest of the school year. Following the announcement March 12, most central Ohio school districts, including Reynoldsburg, chose to close March 16 but remained open for staff and parents who needed to pick up materials.

Reynoldsburg had originally scheduled its spring break for March 23-27.

Though it’s not required, Reynoldsburg is among many central Ohio school districts trying to continue instruction during the closure.

District staff is “on call” to come into the building as needed, said spokeswoman Valerie Wunder, and teachers are using a combination of online instruction and packets -- so-called blizzard bags.

Reynoldsburg uses several online platforms, including Echo, Canvas and Google Classroom. Middle school and high school students with internet access can log into their accounts and connect with teachers, who are expected to answer questions and grade assignments as applicable but are not expected to provide daily face-to-face instruction, Wunder said.

Students are encouraged to complete daily assignments for each class as they normally would. Students will have a two-week window upon return to submit all work assigned during the closure.

“Intervention specialists, gifted and ESL teachers are providing activities and supports that reflect required minutes for students as best they can both with digital content and intervention activities sent home on paper,” she said.

From March 16 to March 20 and March 30 to April 3, “grab and go” meals will be provided from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the high school Livingston campus, 6699 E. Livingston Ave.; French Run Elementary, 1200 Epworth Ave.; and Hannah Ashton Middle School, 1482 Jackson St.

Students can pick up lunch for that day and breakfast for the following day.

During spring break, meals will be distributed only at the Livingston campus.

No standardized state tests will take place during the closure. The Ohio Department of Education is working to adjust the state’s testing schedule, according to its website, which maintains a page of frequently asked questions about the situation.

Reynoldsburg is not yet sure how the closure will impact other spring traditions including prom and graduation ceremonies, Wunder said.

The board of education closed its March 17 meeting to the public and instead had a live-streaming on Facebook.

Among the items approved were three school trips planned for fourth-graders in May, although officials admitted they likely won’t be taken.

“If we’re in school, we’re going to go on those trips,” Brown said.

The board also approved summer school, scheduled to begin June 3, although Brown said those dates also are subject to change.

Board President Debbie Dunlap said the district has been making decisions with information that is changing “by the hour.”

“We’ve obviously entered into unchartered territory,” Dunlap said. “We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we navigate this winding and rocky road.”

She thanked district staff for their flexibility and dedication, and encouraged parents to “please talk to your children about what’s going on. They’ve heard things and may not understand everything. Have an open discussion ... and talk about their feelings.”

The school district communicates with parents through phone calls, texts, emails, through its social-media accounts on Facebook and Twitter and on its website: reyn.org.

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