New Albany-Plain Local School District teachers and staff members will continue the planning necessary to allow students to continue learning remotely while school buildings remain closed during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, said Superintendent Michael Sawyers.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s March 12 order closed school buildings statewide for three weeks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. On March 30, DeWine announced that schools would remain closed until at least May 1.

The district began remote instruction March 19, according to Sawyers.

The district’s scheduled spring break was March 30 to April 3, and remote-learning opportunities for students were suspended during that recess, according to the district website,

Sawyers said teachers and staff members were slated to return from spring break to begin remote work April 6. Students were slated to resume remote learning April 7, he said.

Sawyers said district leaders were not surprised to learn that school buildings would remain closed through May 1.

“While we greatly miss having students and staff on our school campus every day, we all have a responsibility to follow the health recommendations to keep everyone safe,” he said.

He said the district has been providing direct support to any student or family who needs technology assistance.

“We will continue to do so in order to be responsive to our families,” he said.

The district also is working to help at-risk students, such as those on IEPs and 504 plans.

Sawyers said intervention specialists have created detailed learning plans for all students, including those with special needs.

Teachers and staff also use teleconferencing, video conferencing and other technology tools to meet individual student needs, he said.

“While a challenge, the partnership and assistance with our families remains crucial for students to continue to learn remotely, and we are grateful to all that our families have done so far to allow learning to continue at home,” he said.

School board Vice President Phil Derrow said the district’s priority of “students first” remains the same as before the school closure.

“During the extended school shutdown, Superintendent Sawyers and his entire administrative and teaching team are focused on continuing to provide meaningful student learning while also helping to keep students connected to their classmates and our school community,” Derrow said.

Sawyers and the district’s administration deserve a lot of credit for planning for the extended break, said school board President John McClelland.

“Our teachers have really stepped up to provide continuous-learning opportunities for students,” he said.

Although the situation is tough for families, the district’s focus on “students first” will continue whether they are in the classroom or learning online, McClelland said.

In addition, McClelland said, he wanted to remind families they need to stay off the closed district campus.

The state’s first stay-at-home order issued March 22 included a directive to close playgrounds, such as the one on the district’s campus.

The community has a responsibility to make sure the campus is safe, both now and when students return, McClelland said.

“There’s a reason the gates are locked,” he said.