Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Monday that Ohio schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talisa Dixon says she's disappointed, but not surprised:
When schools first closed mid-March, the focus was providing the meals many students relied on, and 15 centers were set up to provide free to go meals for all children. Nearly 6,000 meals are distributed every weekday.
When the governor extended the school closures through May 1st the district shifted to setting up platforms for remote learning, and began to distribute Chromebooks first to seniors, and then making sure every family in the district had at least one device. To date, 16,000 have been distributed, and there are more on hand for families with multiple children.
Dixon says the district has boosted wifi at school buildings, so students that don’t have home access can do homework from school parking lots. The Columbus Metropolitan Library has also boosted their signal in multiple locations. Funding from the “I Know I Can” program has funded an additional 500 hotspots that will be distributed to students in need.
But the superintendent says she knows schools represent a safe place for many students.
“Our social workers have been calling the students to reach out to them and have teleconferences with them. And many of our teachers, too. And really trying to advise and encourage them that in this uncertain time we are still there for them, just in a very different way.”
As of the Monday afternoon online meeting with reporters Dixon did not have numbers on how many students are logging in and completing work, which is reportedly a problem in many districts around the state. Dixon says some students - especially seniors - need to complete coursework in order graduate.
More developments on curriculum will be rolled out soon, and district officials are beginning to what next school year – in an era of social distancing, masks, and other measures – might look like.
Dixon says parents whose students need still need chromebooks can make appointments to pick them up through the district through this week.