For Hilliard City Schools, Gov. Mike DeWine’s extension of a three-week closure because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic simply means a continuation of what the district has been doing since 16,710 students left their classrooms March 13.
“We are going forward with the plans we have in place,” said Stacie Raterman, director of communications for the district.
DeWine issued his first building-closure order March 12 and extended it through at least May 1 with another order March 30.
After the latest order, ThisWeek asked local districts how the extended closure of school buildings affects remote-learning plans, how they are ensuring students have access to the internet if those plans involve online learning, how they are helping or managing at-risk students, such as those on individualized education programs or Section 504 plans, and how the closure affects plans to provide meals for children who need them.
Students without internet service at home can access it from parking lots at school buildings and various public locations in Hilliard, Raterman said.
“We will continue to give students assignments and grades through Canvas, with the understanding the weight of those grades will depend on when and if we get back into the classroom,” Raterman said.
Canvas is a learning-management system used by the district.
Raterman said the district’s teachers are prepared to adapt.
“Our teachers are elite; they have prepared for this and will be reaching out to their students on a daily basis,” she said. “Our highest priority is to care for our students above all else.”
The district will continue to provide meals to students at designated locations, subject to change, that are available at hilliardschools.org.
“We will continue to provide breakfast and lunch for the students who need to be fed,” Raterman said. “We will continue to adjust the best locations where we can meet our students.”
School board President Mark Abate said the district would follow the governor’s orders and lauded the administration and staff members for their efforts and reactions.
He said the extension of the closure did not come as a surprise.
“Our administrative team and teachers have been preparing for this eventuality and will continue to use the tools and technology at our disposal to educate and engage our students,” Abate said. “I think the team has done amazing work thus far to rapidly transition and continue to find ways to refine how we are implementing education in the eLearning format.”
The district’s teachers are going above and beyond to ensure students are being educated, he said.
“We know this is a time of stress, anxiety and transition for all families, and first and foremost, we want to take care of our students,” Abate said. “Teachers are engaging with students online, calling students and parents, and connecting to make sure everyone’s emotional well-being is as much as a priority as educational well-being.”
As for the future, Abate said, the district will follow the governor’s administration “in terms of how the school year will play out.”