The past few weeks have brought about an unprecedented time in our community, our state and our country as we change the way we educate our students and live our daily lives amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
It hasn't been easy for any of us to make the changes needed to prevent the spread of this virus, but I am proud of our staff, our students and families and our community for rising to this challenge.
Two weeks before Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all schools closed, we had begun working on a plan for what teaching and learning would look like for Upper Arlington teachers and students if we were faced with a school closure.
We closely have worked with our staff to maintain the continuity of education in Upper Arlington and some of the essential services our schools provide -- such as free lunches to school-age children in need.
The primary focus of our planning was creating a distance teaching and learning plan that would meet the needs of our students.
We realized that this plan would not and could not replicate the experience our students have every day in our classrooms, especially in regard to the social connection and community. We encouraged our teachers and students to give themselves permission to be creative, try new things and, most importantly, create new ways to connect through distance teaching and learning.
With this in mind, teachers began participating in online professional development and planning sessions on distance teaching and learning March 24 and distance teaching and learning for students was scheduled to begin March 30.
Our teachers and students were excited to reconnect and learn together through this process. It truly is incredible to see how everyone has come together during this pandemic to serve our students and support each other.
I also wanted to highlight and re-emphasize other important steps we've taken in response to COVID-19.
* We are continuing to provide free boxed lunches (and a breakfast for the next day) to any school-age child on any scheduled school days for the duration of the closure, although we also caution that this could change as the situation develops. You can find hours and locations at uaschools.org. Many thanks to nutritional services and transportation staff for their hard work to provide this resource to our families.
* In compliance with the governor’s order, all Upper Arlington Schools playgrounds are closed until further notice. In addition, athletics fields and tracks also are closed. Temporary fencing has been erected, and Upper Arlington police are patrolling all outdoor school facilities.
* We've set up a Frequently Asked Questions link at uaschools.org, that we'll continue updating as we receive more guidance from the governor's office and the Ohio Department of Health.
The safety and well-being of our students, our staff and our community continues to be a top priority for us. It is at the heart of our new strategic plan, and it is all the more important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are incredibly grateful for the strong leadership and guidance from our public health and government officials at the local and state levels throughout this public health crisis.
This is a time we should be incredibly proud to be Golden Bears and to live in a community that comes together to look out for and support one another.
Althought we face many uncertainties for the weeks ahead and the remainder of the school year, I know we will get through this together.
Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. You can follow him on Twitter at @imhoffpaul. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.