CW Schools adapt to pandemic situation

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Sign of the times
The schools are “closed” message on the electronic sign board at Canal Winchester High School reflects the deserted and empty school grounds around the district as schools remain shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

Changes abound as Canal Winchester, the state, nation and world react to life impacted by a pandemic, but with everybody in the same boat, rough waters are becoming more of a choppy wake as adaptations become a way of life.

For students in the Canal Winchester school district, lunch lines and noisy cafeterias were replaced by mobile meals delivered via school buses at stops near homes and apartments and at two school buildings.

Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar said the delivery system has been well received. He said the district is serving approximately 1,000 breakfasts and 1,000 lunches per day.

“Our food service department has done an outstanding job,” said Sotlar. “I want to give them a big thank you. Tammy Heading and her staff are awesome. Also, a big thank you to our bus drivers and aides who are delivering meals to our kids. Dr. Bruning and his team have done a great job.”

The school district is distributing meals—breakfasts and lunches—free of charge to Canal Winchester students age 18 or younger on Mondays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and noon at 24 locations throughout the district and at the high school and Indian Trail Elementary.

With the nutritional side of the equation covered, balancing the academic needs of students in a world where kitchen tables often serve as makeshift classrooms can be a larger mountain to climb.

“So far it is going as good as it can,” aid Sotlar. “The biggest challenge is just getting used to the new online learning environments. We have a plethora of resources for students and families. We have one-to-one Chromebooks in grades three through 12. Kindergarten through second grade are doing a blend of learning packets and online learning using Dojo, Lexia, fast forward and weekly video announcements from principals and staff members.”

Sotlar said the district is working with students who do not have Internet access and emphasized the tech department is available to help students with Chromebook issues, but they must call or email the department to set up an appointment.

As for the upcoming April 20 school board meeting, the board is also tapping into technology and is using Zoom conferencing for the meeting.

With so many events up in the air due to COVID-19 response, Sotlar said substitute proposals are being developed.

“Graduation is currently set for May 30, 9 a.m. at World Harvest,” said Sotlar. “We are working on backup plans if COVID guidelines are still in place. We are waiting on a decision from the Ohio High School Athletic Association about spring sports.”

Construction at the high school continues and Sotlar said essential personnel are still taking care of buildings and grounds, in addition to food service preparing and transportation personnel delivering meals to students.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience and support,” said Sotlar. “This is new territory for all of us and we are learning and making adjustments as we go. We are a strong and resilient people, community, state and country and by all of us working together and taking care of each other, we will get through this. Canal Winchester Strong.”

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