In the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the stay-at-home directive announced by Gov. Mike DeWine, the entire state and nation were thrust into a virtual-learning reality.
We now find ourselves relying on technology, the internet, learning-management systems, video conferencing, Chromebooks, iPads and social media to stay connected, both personally and professionally.
While we cannot replace the personal connections the physical classroom offers, Grandview Heights Schools is working hard to maintain connections in creative and meaningful ways.
Our teachers continue to educate our children. They are working hard to retrofit the in-school curriculum to accommodate a situation in which children are unable to physically be in the classroom.
That includes using technology as well as personal outreach to ensure students and families feel supported during this time. Our teachers are connecting with students through email and video conferencing, and our website has a dedicated tab with lesson plans, resources and updated communications for students and staff to access daily.
Our district, using email and social media, is spotlighting staff and sharing videos on how our schools continue to maximize and personalize every student's learning. The district also hosted a communitywide virtual spirit week. I encourage you to follow Grandview Heights Schools on Facebook to see this firsthand. It's amazing to see how our community has stepped up to support one another.
Now that we've had a month to settle into our current situation, some are referring to this virtual learning as homeschooling – but is that accurate?
Well, it's a little more complex. This is virtual education in response to a crisis situation, and we're all doing our best to figure it out day by day. The phrase "building the plane while flying it" seems to fit most schools' reality. We are continually meeting virtually, reflecting, refining, implementing and improving, then starting this same process over again.
All of this is happening while parents are attempting to perform their typical workplace duties from home while helping their children in their studies.
Some parents have been deemed essential and continue to work outside the home. Other parents have filed for unemployment and are out of work. All of these dynamics add an additional layer to the challenge families are experiencing as well as the overall challenge to educate our students.
At Grandview Heights Schools, we see this time as a lesson for us all. We are taking note of some of the things that are working well in this situation, such as how our staff and students are finding creative ways to ensure learning continues.
For example, our students are telling us they like the choices and independence that teachers are giving them to complete interest-based projects, thus enabling them to take ownership and responsibility in their learning. That speaks to our mission of maximizing and personalizing every student's learning and enabling students to pursue their passions.
Some of the things that do not work well, such as not being able to gather and connect in person, will help us to appreciate what we have when schools reopen.
Together, we are making the most of this unprecedented situation that is an outcome of this pandemic. From what I've witnessed, we are doing our part to keep each other safe and get help to those who need it most.
We also are learning the importance of balancing work, school and family time so that we can take care of our mental health. When the appropriate time comes, we look forward to when we are all back together.
From my perspective I can't think of a better place than Grandview Heights Schools to be thrust into this new reality. I thank our students, our staff and our families for all that they are doing to help us support our mission and continue learning virtually.
Andy Culp is superintendent of Grandview Heights Schools.