Superintendent planning for more virtual learning

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

May 1. That is the date that is on the minds of students and parents throughout the state of Ohio.

May 1 offers a hint of normalcy, the potential end to a state mandated order that closed all K-12 school buildings last month to slow the spread of a novel coronavirus. The staff and administration at these buildings are working under the assumption that on-site learning remains a possibility. That does not mean, however, they are not prepared for it to be extended.

While declining to give his opinion as to whether on-site learning will be cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, South-Western City Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise said the district will be ready for either scenario.

“We are working on plans as to how buildings can be operated should they open and we still have to observe social distancing guidelines,” he said, “and we are working on ways to enhance our procedures for virtual learning as well.”

The first situation, he said, may pose a greater challenge but he feels strides have been made in virtual learning instruction throughout the past month.

“Our educators have been extremely innovative and creative and they have done a wonderful job of making the needed adjustments as issues arise,” Wise said.

According to Wise, all students have now received Google Chromebooks for their instruction, which were modified during spring break to include safety filters. Several parents had complained online that they were not activated, thus allowing their children to see most of what the world wide web had to offer.

There were also several small adjustments made to the format regarding lessons and assignments, which he called a normal part of the instruction process.

For the most part, he said, the virtual instruction will look much like it does now should it remain in place for the 2019-2020 school year.

He did note that the district would like to hold some kind of ceremony for its graduating seniors but they are still discussing the logistics of doing so. Additionally, the district is discussing summer school options for students who want to advance their studies and for those who have fallen behind. A staggered, in-person start has been debated but not cemented.

“We will still have summer school in some format,” he said, “but what it will look like we don’t quite know yet.”

Wise also said that the district will continue to distribute meals to children until further notice. Starting April 13, multiple meals will be distributed to children on Mondays and Wednesdays only from 10 a.m. to noon at the 15 current pickup locations and at an additional 16 school bus sites. The Mid-Ohio Foodbank will continue to provide prepackaged dinners for pickup only at Westland High School on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. until further notice. To see the pickup locations, visit the district’s Facebook page or website at www.swcsd.us

Additionally, the board of education held its first meeting since the building closures last month. Though the April 13 agenda was light on items for action, the praise was high for the students, staff and parents.

Board member David Donofrio expressed his gratitude to the administration, the teachers and the parents for “all of their hard work” during this time, a sentiment that was echoed by Robert Ragland, Cathy Johnson and Lee Schreiner. Fellow board member Anthony Caldwell echoed their statements and offered admiration for the student body as well.

“Our students are resilient and they have done an incredible job,” he said.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on April 27 at Central Crossing High School, 4500 Big Run South Road in Grove City.

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