Following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's March 30 order that schools remain closed until May 1 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Pickerington Schools will continue to educate students using distance learning.

The district has employed online-learning protocols since March 17, after Ohio's K-12 schools initially were ordered closed for three weeks.

Students in grades K-4 will continue to complete blizzard-bag assignments through a link on the district's website.

Similarly, middle school and high school students will continue to use laptop and tablet computers they had been issued by the district to complete assignments via the Google Classroom app.

"Pickerington Schools will continue with our current protocols with online learning and blizzard-bag assignments," Superintendent Chris Briggs said.

"Educators are working on the week 3 online and blizzard bag assignments and PLSD will send an announcement once they are available.

"These home and online assignments have been successful for us so far as, together, we have worked to keep our students safe and learning."

Through the extended closure, students who don't have access to the internet at home can pick up copies of assignments at their school building or the district office, 100 N. East St., 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We have bins outside with the materials that they can grab," said Crystal Davis, the district's public-relations director.

As for students on individualized education programs or Section 504 plans, the district is using "multiple technological platforms and multi-sensory tasks to meet students' academic, related-services and/or social-emotional needs," said Kristina Hulse, Pickerington Schools director of special education. "The specific platforms vary depending on the needs of the students and their families."

"For example, the students may experience online classroom instruction, paper-pencil assignments, video conferencing, phone conferencing and/or video modeling.

"Staff have been contacting students and parents to ensure the students' needs are being met. Our staff is also available to remotely meet with families to revise the students plans as needed."

In the days after the extended closure, the district has continued to provide "grab-and-go" lunches to anyone 18 years old or younger.

However, rather than distributing the meals each day, the district has been providing a week's worth of breakfasts and lunches in a single bag from noon to 1 p.m. Mondays outside Tussing Elementary School, 7117 Tussing Road, Reynoldsburg.

"We will continue to hand them out on Mondays and make adjustments as needed to the locations, meaning we may go back to handing out meals at two locations instead of one," Davis said.

Briggs said parents, students and others interested in updates about the schools and how the district is managing education during the pandemic may view details on the district's website -- pickerington.k12.oh.us -- and on the district's social-media channels.

"Please know that Pickerington Schools is prepared, and staff are continuing to work hard to keep our entire learning community safe," Briggs said. "Please take care of your loved ones and yourself during this tough time and know we are all in this together."

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