The Columbus School for Girls is among schools throughout central Ohio that have been forced to adopt distance learning during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-February, Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli said school leaders concluded the school might need to implement distance learning due to the emergence of the coronavirus and the possibility it could develop into a pandemic.

As a result, she said the school was able to efficiently adapt its coursework.

"We actually were, I think, really well-prepared for this transition," Ciccarelli said.

CSG went on spring break March 13, and Gov. Mike DeWine closed schools shortly afterward. In April, he ordered schools to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.

"When I saw this coming down the pike, I said 'oh we need to get ready now'," Ciccarelli said. "I said at the time, 'every faculty member is going to need to deliver their curriculum for one week.' And of course I never imagined it was going to be two months, but if you can deliver it for one week, you can do it for two months."

Ciccarelli said CSG's existing technology infrastructure and technology team facilitated a smooth transition.

The school uses learning-management systems such as Google Classroom and Moodle and Zoom for videoconferencing and has a 1:1 device program for students. All students from grades 6-12 are assigned devices, while students in the lower school have devices that are available to them during the day.

"We were able to shift that pretty quickly so every student could have a device," Ciccarelli said. "We were very lucky that we were able (to do that). We were really lucky that we had a lot of the infrastructure in place and we were able to deploy that very quickly."

Ciccarelli said she credited faculty members for their willingness to transition to the remote-learning platform.

"Our faculty is incredibly flexible and nimble and thoughtful. They know our students well. They were able to sort of figure out what was going to work and what wasn't going to work in some ways," Ciccarelli said. "And then we also immediately started surveying our families and our students to find out what was working and what wasn't so we could streamline our processes."

CSG high school physics teacher Kevin Sweeney and CSG middle school humanities teacher Lynn Sweeney said their transition to teaching remotely was relatively painless.

"We were fortunate that we're a 1:1 school. All of our students have tablets, we've been doing online course-management programs for years," Kevin Sweeney said. "There were adjustments, but since both the middle school and upper school already have a 1:1 environment and have used online course management programs -- sure, we had to do some adjustments but we were already down that path pretty far."

Neither reported major issues with attendance with their remote learning.

Kevin Sweeney said a yearning amongst the girls to see one another has helped maintain participation.

"I found that one of the things the girls were craving was contact. And a great way to get that contact was through the classrooms," he said. "And it was contact with their classmates, but also with the teachers. One of the things we pride ourselves on is that relationship between the students and the teachers and how strong that is."

Lynn Sweeney said she has maintained traditional grading and general expectations with her coursework. Due to the variables surrounding the pandemic and how that may affect a child's home, she has made adjustments where needed, she said.

"We've definitely been flexible from family-to-family with due dates. Parents have been great about communication. We meet every student where they are," she said. "If one needs a little extra time, depending on their circumstances, we're going to do that."

CSG's graduation is scheduled for May 29. Officials have been working out the details for an alternative commencement, as a traditional ceremony isn't feasible based upon guidelines.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve