Westerville City School District leaders are solidifying plans to extend virtual learning this month, following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's extension of the K-12 statewide K-12 school closure until May 1 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"Our initial plan took us through (April 3), so with the governor's announcement, we will be transitioning from our short-term plan to one that extends through May 1," said John Kellogg, superintendent. "Our task over the next few days will be to solidify and execute the concepts that our academic-affairs team has been discussing in the event of a long-term closure."

He said the instructional staff continues to develop lesson activities, including more detailed information and resources related to digital instruction.

"We will continue to provide a blend of digital instruction and print resources for those families who may not have access to technology," Kellogg said. "We are working out details to provide Chromebooks to students who may not have access to a computer in their homes."

In an April 1 letter to district families, Kellogg wrote the district is making a limited number of Chromebooks available to students.

"The Chromebooks that we do have available to distribute are older models that are scheduled to be swapped out as part of this summer's technology refresh cycle," he said. "The initial opportunity for a household to obtain one Chromebook was communicated last night to families in communities that also are receiving meal delivery. Logistics were already in place to support the initial distribution of these devices to areas of our community with the greatest need."

Kellogg said remaining Chromebooks would be made available the week of April 6 to other families who need one.

"I truly wish we could provide every student with a device," he said. "However, we are not yet a 'one-to-one' district and must balance the availability of Chromebooks with maintaining our investment in this technology.

"Given the limited number of devices that are available, Chromebooks are being provided one per household on a first-come, first-served basis."

Kellogg said the federal government recently provided additional guidance in managing at-risk students, such as those in an Individualized Education Program and Section 504 plan, so Westerville's special-education staff has been following those guidelines to make sure students' needs are met.

"Our staff continues to work directly with individual families and students on these matters," he said.

In addition to meeting instructional needs, Kellogg said, the district would maintain meal-delivery support to specific portions of the community as identified by U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines.

After the district's buildings closed for face-to-face instruction on March 13, it launched "grab-and-go" meal delivery for children on March 19.

Every weekday 16 district buses and two vans were scheduled to make 75 stops around the district and deliver food to children who are 18 years of age and younger.

Greg Viebranz, the district's executive director of communication and technology, said Westerville serves many populations that require additional support and care, including students with food insecurities.

He said the district has been engaging community partners to determine how they can work together to overcome challenges created by the mandated closure.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla