As Ohio schools moved to distance learning because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, St. Francis DeSales High School officials said existing technology infrastructure eased its transition.

School buildings throughout the state are closed for the rest of the academic year under orders from Gov. Mike DeWine.

Principal Dan Garrick said DeSales has a 1:1 student-device program.

"All of us were kind of thrown into the deep end without a tremendous amount of ability to prepare for that," he said, adding that the program was started 10 years ago. "But I would say that we were a little bit ahead of the curve in this regard.

"All our students have iPads, and technology is an integral part of what we do day-in and day-out."

Garrick said one of DeSales' goals the past couple of years was for students to "take greater ownership for their learning" and for teachers to "strive for what we call DOK -- depth of knowledge -- in all subject areas."

This mindset, Garrick said, has prepared students during a time they need to rely on themselves more than ever.

"The kids have been very much in an environment that they've been taking on a greater level of individual ownership," he said. "And so for them to be put in a situation where we're going to be learning remotely or virtually, that transition was not as difficult as it may have otherwise been."

During the pandemic, teachers have conducted real-time classes over Google Meet or Zoom, Garrick said, adding that many teachers have Google Education Certification and utilize Google Classroom.

"We can use that as a platform for pushing material out for the students, and the students can therefore deliver that back to us," Garrick said. "So in a lot of instances, many of our teachers were really operating in kind of a nonpaper environment before this, so the kids have been pretty adept with the technology."

Garrick said the school has maintained traditional grading and has not pivoted to a pass-fail structure.

"That was a very deliberate decision on our part because we really felt it was important to continue to move the educational process forward," he said.

Garrick said the school has been delivering traditional paper packets to students who have trouble with internet connectivity.

Karen Scott, a physics teacher, has set up a makeshift teaching area in her shed, where she engages with students via Google Meet.

"For me, I felt that I needed to make my classroom look as much like a typical day in my classroom would be normally," Scott said.

She said attendance has been near perfect.

"It's gone as well as it can be for not being able to have them work in small groups and work around and see their progress on a lab or have them 'whiteboarding' answers, discussing it and saying, 'OK, let's come together and let's think in small groups what we've said here,' " Scott said. "But in terms of the content instruction, I think it's gone on exactly the same because I chose to do it live."

DeSales will hold a virtual graduation ceremony May 30.

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