Big Walnut Local Schools is currently on spring break, but things are different this year due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Big Walnut’s students have been off since March 16, which includes sports and extracurricular activities.
“Beginning on Monday, March 30, students will be given remote learning opportunities,” the district states on its website. “Teachers will be expected to provide daily communications via Schoology beginning on March 30.”
Schoology is described as a learning management system where academic content is shared to students. Big Walnut Local Schools adopted this “digital backpack” for use starting in the 2019-2020 school year.
With remote learning starting next week, the district feels it won’t have to make up any time in the summer.
The district’s technology department is now working from home due to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order until April 6, families were told in the latest district update Sunday.
Monday was the last day for families without a device at home to get a Chromebook for their children. The technology department won’t be able to repair the Chromebooks while they are at home, but can do troubleshooting.
For those without internet access, the district said Spectrum cable has offered free internet during the outbreak.
Some of the families in the district also need help with providing meals to their children during the building closures, with school breakfasts and lunches being the child’s main meals of the day.
“We are also grateful to the local church volunteers who continue to provide food to children to take home from school through the Bountiful Backpack program,” said Superintendent Angie Hamberg, in an update on the district’s website. “These volunteers have been quietly providing this service for years, and it is at times like this that we are especially appreciative of their work.”
Hamberg said the new Big Walnut Neighborhood Bridges has “opportunities to provide kindness to those in need. We will be channeling all requests for assistance from the community through that platform. Thanks for the outpouring of support. I am grateful to live, work, and raise my children in such an awesome community.”
In the meantime, Big Walnut is building for the future.
“Construction is continuing to take place for our two new schools,” said Director of Facilities Doug Swartz, in an email last week. “Given the current situation with COVID-19, the district, as well as our project’s construction management firm (The Gilbane Building Co.), have invoked protocols for all contractors and vendors associated with the job in regards to COVID-19.
“Moving forward, the BWLS Facilities Team will continue to monitor the project and adhere to any and all edicts from the federal, state and local government officials, including the Big Walnut Local Schools Board of Education,” Swartz continued. “It is important to also point out that should our projects experience a manufacturer, subcontractor, vendor, labor pool and or other supply chain type of delay or shut down attributable to the COVID 19 pandemic, the project schedule, including the opening of the new Prairie Run Elementary for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, could be subject to review and revision if and when warranted.”
The BOE is still meeting, but only allowing “essential personnel.” The meetings will be shown live and can be viewed afterward. Public participation in the form of questions and comments can be emailed to the district prior to the meetings.
Big Walnut has an issue that was on the March ballot, and the state board of elections has extended the primary to June 2. Limited in-person voting can take place then, or district residents can choose to vote absentee if they haven’t already done so.
“We hope that you are safe at home with your families and that you remain safe in the coming weeks,” the district states in a message to students on its website.