Worthington Schools Superintendent Trent Bowers said Gov. Mike DeWine's extended closure of public school buildings because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was not unexpected but still challenging.

"We sent our teachers home with barely adequate technology and do everything we can to do remote learning," he said.

A March 12 order by DeWine 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 initial expectation was students would spend 30 to 45 minutes per content area three times a week, district spokeswoman Vicki Gnezda previously said.

"We had stated we didn't want our students attempting to learn new material over the next three weeks," Bowers said, referring to the original closure, which was set to end April 3. "For a longer closure, we want to make our students get the essential core learning for their grades."

Bowers said the district is "trying to help families understand there's going to be a wide variance in remote learning because each teacher is doing the best they can."

Of course, that requires technology, he said.

"Every year, we give out 500 loaner computers with Wi-Fi access to those who don't have it, so going into this closure, we already had 500 households we were providing Wi-Fi," he said.

"We have ordered 200 more to bolster more families with those."

The district is doing its best to educate students with special needs, such as those who have individualized education programs, Bowers said.

"This is one of the greatest challenges right now for everybody," he said.

The district's special-education teachers are collaborating with general-education teachers to provide support to IEP students and other special-needs students "as best as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, all standardized tests and state-report-card requirements have been waived for this school year, according to the Worthington Schools website.

Ohio schools also were granted the authority to graduate any student who is on track to graduate, the website said.

Graduation for both Thomas Worthington and Kilbourne still is on the calendar for May 24, Gnezda said, but that could change.

"At this point, like we've talked about before, we are certainly doing what the governor asks of us, so we don't know for sure," she said. "There will be no classes in our buildings until May 1" at the earliest.

The district still has been providing free meals to students who need them, but procedures have changed to limit touch points for students and personnel, Bowers said.

Instead of picking up meals daily, students have been able to retrieve breakfasts and lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Thomas Worthington and Kilbourne high schools and Slate Hill Elementary School, according to the district.

Bowers said the same number of meals were being provided, but they had to be spread out over two or three days.

School buses also were being used to transport meals throughout the district, Bowers said.

"These are extraordinary times," he said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary