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Athens Middle School stands at 55 West State Street in Athens, Ohio.

Athens schools adapting to remote learning for remainder of the year

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday all K-12 schools in Ohio will remain closed and move to remote learning for the remainder of the school year.

“We're not telling schools how to do this, but the gathering of a significant number of ppl is dangerous,” DeWine said in a tweet. “So just as schools have been innovative in how to teach from a distance, I know they will be innovative as they find a way to honor students.”

DeWine said each school district will look a little different, but the change in learning could even extend to the fall.

“There is the possibility that we will have a blended system this fall --- some distance learning as well as some in-person learning,” he said in a tweet. “That's just a possibility and each school district is different.”

Tom Gibbs, Athens City School District superintendent, said ACSD will continue to provide remote education during this time. ACSD is also providing support to students through providing Chromebooks and internet hotspots.

“Teachers have been tasked with posting three lessons per subject area to their online classes each week and are also setting up virtual class meeting times via Zoom and Google Hangouts,” Gibbs said in an email. “We are using Google Classroom as our primary platform, however some (middle school and high school) teachers use Canvas (similar to Blackboard).”

He also said food service staff, bus drivers and custodians have been working to deliver breakfasts and lunches to approximately 570 families. Local businesses have also contributed to providing for food insecure students, according to a previous Post report. 

Gibbs said he believes universities will be accommodating to graduating seniors who have had their academics affected by this change.

“ACT and SAT tests have been cancelled, so any student who had waited to take those tests will need to request from the universities they apply to for some consideration of the circumstances,” he said in an email.

Gibbs said the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 197, which allows students to still receive high school diplomas without standardized testing if they were already on track to graduate. 

“We are planning a virtual graduation ceremony, but also tentatively scheduling a date later in the summer as an alternative commencement ceremony date,” he said in an email.

Sean Parsons, Athens City School Board president, said the school board will be trying to support students as much as possible.

“This is just so unusual, but we are doing the best we can,” Parsons said. “It needs to be more than just making kids do extra homework. It's the connections with their teachers and seeing their classmates, and making sure that there is ... as close to a sense of normalcy as possible.”

Parsons said the board has been working to figure out what are the most essential things that need to be done as well as what it can realistically accomplish and what the school district has the support for.

“We had to ask all those questions to develop a plan, and (send) surveys to students about Internet access and food security,” he said. “These sorts of things are challenging. A lot of parents are not working right now, so we're mindful of that as well.”

Parsons said the board is also looking into ways the school district may be able to support graduating seniors, especially to provide them with closure.

“We'll need to be working on ways for students to access stuff that they have left at school,” Parsons said. “There are a lot of kids that thought they were going to be taught by their teachers for a couple more months in-person at their school, and now they're going to be heading into middle school (or) high school, and they don't have that sense of closure.”

Parsons said ACSD still plans to do everything they can to support both teachers and students.

“That is not just education, but a lot of other care, including food, nutrition, tech support counseling services,” he said. “All of these things are still going to continue. We're just learning how to deliver that effectively and as quickly as possible in this new environment.”


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