Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools students returning to learning

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
Cassie Mountain, a first-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, provides lessons Aug. 25 from her classroom through Gahanna's distance-learning model.

The Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools welcomed more than 7,800 students back to classes Aug. 24 - held remotely because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"Although we had to begin things quite differently, we were pleased to get the 2020-21 school year started and welcome over 7,800 students back to distance learning," Superintendent Steve Barrett said.

"Our teachers have worked incredibly hard over the past few weeks to prepare for our students' return, adjusting to new applications and digital platforms, and creating better engagement and robust learning opportunities for our students."

Barrett said the goal during the first few days of classes was to encourage students to build relationships with their teachers and classmates and give them time to get to know one another and make connections through the virtual environment.

"We want our distance learning to mirror a traditional school experience as much as possible," said Jill Elliott, assistant superintendent. "Students and parents can expect a balance of online and offline learning opportunities with whole-group, small-group and one-on-one interactions."

As to be expected, she said, there were a few connectivity and log-on issues.

"Our teachers, administrators and tech support have been very responsive and overall, we had a very successful start to the new year," Elliott said.

According to Barrett, at this point the district doesn't know how long it will remain in the distance learning model.

"We miss our students and we want them back in the classrooms with their teachers and classmates," he said. "But we are committed to bringing everyone back together safely, so the decision to transition to the hybrid-learning model will be based upon recommendations from public health officials."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla

Kassie Hiller, a second-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, interacts with students as the 2020-21 school year gets underway.