LIMA — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday schools in the state would remain closed until May 1, a move that many expected.
“I think we all thought, especially after the president extended it to April 30, we figured it was probably coming,” said Jill Ackerman, Lima schools superintendent. “We actually had been trying to work our way through what long-term plans would look like if in the event that we would need that to happen because you’re always trying to look ahead.
“On Sunday, I sent out a message to all of our teachers, to all of our family members through a one-call message and also through Facebook posts to saying we anticipated it being extended, and I didn’t know if that would be met,” said Aaron Rex, superintendent of Wapakoneta schools.
“Really, I wasn’t surprised,” said Jim Kanable, superintendent of Shawnee schools. “Realistically we don’t have any protocols to bring us back out of this. I’m anticipating school to be canceled for the remainder of the year. I think there’s already been about four or five states that have taken that stance.”
Dealing with continuing to educate students online is a challenge, especially for school districts where not everyone has a computer or internet access.
Lima schools is trying to address that now.
“We were able to get some Chromebooks in and we’ve been working with AT&T on up trying to obtain some prepaid hotspots. Our plan will be to distribute a device to families that would not have technology. We gave out some paper packets in the beginning, but it’s just not feasible to do it that way,” Ackerman said.
Getting kids pumped up and ready to be educated continues to be a challenge.
“The one thing that our staff is able to do every day when kids come to us is really pumping them up, keep them excited about education, keep them moving forward in those times of difficulty, and everyone runs into difficulties. This is life. We’re facing some difficulties and with that, you got to persevere and then you got to be strong, both physically and mentally to push through these situations and timeframes,” Rex said.
While teachers would love nothing better than returning to face-to-face teaching, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen for a while.
“There’s nothing that replaces the day to day, face to face and that’s to be that’s the ultimate methodology of teaching kids,” Kanable said. “Our staff has stepped up in so many ways as far as just taking care of our kids even though they’re not in the building every day. We’re doing things that we never thought we could do before and are doing them extremely well.”
One silver lining is the experience school districts are getting in remote learning could someday be used during a calamity day.
“If we didn’t have class on December 3 because we got four inches of snow and the roads are icy. Let’s just teach from home today and deliver the curriculum and do things that really could be done specifically on a one-day basis, maybe a two-day, but not having to worry about makeup days and all those types of things we’ve had in the past,” Kanable said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.