Hilliard schools to 'Bridge' learning gaps caused by pandemic

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Hilliard City Schools

Hilliard City Schools will offer a three-phase program this summer that is designed to help students catch up with learning that was interrupted when the district shifted from all in-person instruction to online or hybrid teaching models because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The first phase of the Bridge Response Plan, or simply The Bridge, will begin with in-person summer school led by Hilliard teachers for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, said Cori Kindl, executive director of K-12 curriculum for Hilliard schools. 

The Bridge’s in-person summer classes will be offered for up to 1,350 students in kindergarten to fifth grade, and up to 720 students in sixth to eighth grades. 

The first session is scheduled for June 7-18 and the second session from July 19-30. 

Classes for students in kindergarten to fifth grade will be held at Beacon, Horizon and Crossing elementary schools; classes for students in sixth to eighth grades will be held at The Hub. 

Virtual online classes for students in grades nine to 12 will be offered in two sessions, one from June 1-11 and the other from June 14-25. 

In the first phase of The Bridge, morning instruction from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. will focus on academics and afternoon instruction from 12:15 to 3 p.m. will focus on “enrichment workshops,” according to the plan Kindl outlined for board of education members April 12. 

Transportation and lunches will be provided for students in kindergarten to eighth grade who are taking in-person classes, Kindl said. 

The second phase of The Bridge will roll out during the 2021-22 school year and the third phase is planned for June 2022, Kindl said.

The second phase of the Bridge will begin in May as school administrators and staff discuss how to meet the needs of students during the next school year, Kindl said.

The evaluation of the Bridge summer school and how the district meets the needs of students during the next school year will be part of determining how the Bridge looks beyond next school year, Kindl said.

Kindl describes The Bridge as “a recovery plan for COVID” that takes “a holistic approach” to offering in-person classroom instruction that was interrupted when Gov. Mike DeWine ordered public schools closed in March 2020. 

The Bridge evolved from the work of a consortium of six central Ohio superintendents, including Hilliard Superintendent John Marschhausen, Kindl said. 

"Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine charged school districts with an initiative to develop a recovery plan that responds to the potential impact that the COVID 19 pandemic has had on our students," Kindl said.

The consortium of six superintendents, including Marschhausen, "came together to share best practices and identify the new realities of the pandemic on education, and to develop a framework that will guide each district in designing their program," Kindl siad. 

Marschhausen will leave April 30 to become superintendent of Dublin schools. 

Many students have been affected by the pandemic and there are disparities among them when it comes to how the pandemic has affected learning and socio-emotional health, Kindl said.

Assessing individual students will be necessary and progress will take time, she said.

"The Bridge recovery program is not something that will be implemented or finished in two to three months. We are intentional in designing a program we can implement in the course of the next 18 to 24 months." 

Seats will be held for students who are personally invited by a teacher based on criteria and a representation of our diverse student body, according to Kindl.

"Teachers used a holistic approach to determine students who are in most urgent need of intervention including STAR scores, and growth data in both reading and math," Kindl said.

"Teachers have relationships with their students. We reached out to teachers who know their students best (and will) provide a certain number of seats for students we know need intervention.

"Our program is designed to meet the diverse needs of our students and it is a pillar of our framework to ensure equity, inclusivity and accessibility."

Any open seats will be filled using a lottery. Parents can register their children for the summer session until April 30 via the district’s website, hilliardschools.org, and will be notified by May 7 if their children will be enrolled. 

Board member Nadia Long said she is pleased about the effort to address the issue of interrupted in-person learning. 

“I’m glad to hear it is a multiyear approach,” she said. 

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekCorvo