Colin Powell once said, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure."
Amid a once-in-a-century global pandemic, the Hilliard City School District continues to be dedicated to our mission -- we will prepare each student to be ready for tomorrow. Success is not an option -- success is demanded.
Hilliard teachers and staff members responded to an unprecedented event in March with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The district quickly pivoted to eLearning, taking advantage of the years of planning and preparation for more personalized educational opportunities. Powell's insight rings true: Our years of training and hard work prepared us to respond with skill. We had the technology tools and applications to support our teachers at work.
We have learned a great deal over the past several months. Although Hilliard was well-prepared to pivot to eLearning, we must be better prepared for future events.
Every respected public-health official predicts additional "spikes" in coronavirus cases, and Hilliard must be ready to respond. We must prepare, work hard and learn from this spring.
First, our hopes and prayers are that we start school Aug. 20 as planned. We aspire to have marching bands preparing for competition and athletes training for games. We know that having our students in our classrooms with our teachers every day is what's best for most students. We know our families rely on our schools as they return to work. Schools are an essential cog in the economic machine.
If the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Education permit us to return, our schools will be in session.
There are discussions at the state and national levels about how social distancing can be applied to school settings. If public-health officials direct schools to create a 6-foot social-distancing space for all students, we will need to make schedule adjustments. We must prepare for social-distancing and mitigation efforts. Although not our preference, we will develop a plan for social distancing.
We also have learned from eLearning, and we will be ready if the coronavirus returns in the fall or winter. If public-health officials order us to stay home due to a new health emergency, we will be equipped to shift to eLearning. We are building the structure and preparing the resources for eLearning at every grade level. Our teachers have "built the plane as they were flying it." In the future, we will have the plane built.
The Hilliard City School District also is aware that some children and staff members are immunocompromised and have other health concerns. Some parents will want to keep their children at home until this crisis has passed. Yes, the region has a plethora of community- and charter-school options for parents. Although these options exist, we can do it better in Hilliard. We don't want to lose Hilliard students; we want every student in our community, every family, to feel comfortable with the educational options provided by our public schools.
Your Hilliard schools will provide an entirely online educational experience as an option for parents and families. This opt-in educational program will be a "parent choice" and not a mandate. Working with the Lakota Local Schools to build a complete curriculum for kindergarten through the sixth grade will not only provide options for our families but also provide resources for all classroom teachers. In the event the entire district is ordered to utilize remote learning, our response will be better and more intentional.
As a district, we are planning for multiple educational scenarios in August. Hilliard's values and mission are our core: We strive to meet the needs of each student; we prepare each student for a better tomorrow.
Finally, to the class of 2020, our hearts break for all you have lost this spring. You earned, and you deserve, the opportunity to celebrate with your friends and families.
As we celebrate your virtual graduations, please know we expect to bring you together as a class when permitted to gather again in larger groups. You are a historic class, with a bond and experience like no other. You are ready for the tomorrow you enter as adults. We are incredibly proud of your accomplishments and confident in the future you will create.
Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.