In a livestreamed meeting April 3, the Reynoldsburg Board of Education declared an emergency and announced plans to distribute thousands of Chromebooks to students without technology at home.
The emergency resolution, approved unanimously, gives the superintendent and treasurer authority to “take emergency measures, make decisions using their best judgment in these unique circumstances and to expend funds for products and services needed to respond to this emergency and to take such actions as are necessary to continue to provide education through alternative means during the period when schools are closed to students, up to $50,000.”
The resolution waives the bidding requirement and allows district officials to make purchases up to $50,000 without getting prior approval from the board.
Superintendent Melvin Brown said the resolution is proactive in nature.
“There are things that pop up on a day-to-day basis that need to be addressed. This gives us the authority to address these issues without waiting a few weeks for the next board meeting,” Brown said. “I don’t see us operating any differently than we already have been, but this is just in case. I don’t know what’s going to happen with our food service, in terms of delays in getting shipments and things of that nature.”
The board also voted to amend the district’s computer and technology acceptable use policy, allowing students to take home district-issued Chromebooks and tablet computers.
Brown said the district will begin distributing up to 3,000 tablets to students next week, primarily to students in first through eighth grades.
“We’re going to target families that we know have no access,” he said.
The district is working with city officials on a plan to install Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Reynoldsburg and expects to announce more information later this month, Brown said.
Last month Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all schools statewide closed through April 6 due to COVID-19 coronavirus. On March 30, DeWine extended the closure through May 1.
Reynoldsburg already is using remote-lesson plans and instructional packets for those without internet access prepared through April 9, so the district is “moving that window out and are planning for distance learning to last through May 1,” said Reynoldsburg spokeswoman Valerie Wunder.
Students are encouraged to complete daily assignments for each class as they normally would through several online platforms, including Echo, Canvas and Google Classroom. Intervention specialists, gifted and ESL teachers are providing activities through digital content and activities sent home on paper.
The school closure being extended means students will have to wait a little longer for prom. Changes also could be coming to graduation as the district prepares contingency plans.
“We are rescheduling prom,” Wunder said. “Right now, we are looking at dates in June and July. We hope we can still have graduation as planned but are looking into alternatives for that as well. All other events have been canceled as per the governor’s order.”
The district will continue to provide meals for pickup from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays at RHS Livingston campus, 6699 E. Livingston Ave. Students can pick up a week worth of “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches every Monday.
Teachers and administrators are being encouraged to work from home and some support staff are working to deep clean buildings and performing maintenance, Wunder said.
The district’s helpline is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and can be reached at 614-501-1020.
Updates and information can be found on reyn.org, Facebook, Twitter and via the district’s One Call system for phone, text and email notifications.