Big Walnut Local Schools issues learning recovery and extended learning plan


SUNBURY — Many parents as well as adults who don’t have kids have been wondering how will the COVID-19 pandemic affect students’ educations?

Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had the same concerns.

“This once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has impacted all of us, so it should be no surprise that it has impacted our children,” DeWine said at the time. “But we should not panic, nor should we be surprised by the results of assessments. Instead, we should do what Ohioans have always done when facing a challenge — stay calm, roll up our sleeves, and work to solve the problem.”

He tasked districts to come up with plans to make up any learning opportunities that may have been lost during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes extending the school year or starting the next school year early, and extending the school day or offering more summer school.

To that end, Big Walnut Local Schools has issued a “Learning Recovery & Extended Learning Plan,” which is available on its website (

Unlike many districts, Big Walnut has had full-time in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year, and most of its students have opted to return to the classroom.

“Our student data and growth for our in-person students is on par with where we would expect it to be in a typical year, pre-pandemic,” the district said. “However, we have concerns about our students who selected to participate in our Virtual Learning Program this year.”

The four-page document looks at the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.

The district said it will use multiple assessment systems to identify K-8 students who need help with their studies. Tutors and intervention specialists will be used during the school day to fill any academic gaps. However, social and emotional needs of the students are also essential.

“At this time, we do not have sufficient funding to allow for counselors at our elementary schools,” the district said.

Big Walnut High School used to have a Response to Intervention team that identified students who needed help. “Due to the budget cuts brought on by the pandemic, we had to cut staffing and did not have staff available to continue this RTI model,” the district said.

In order to assist in the learning recovery and wellness of the students, the district said it needs to add staff in the next two school years. These include teachers, instructional coaches, tutors, school psychologist, behavioral specialist and school counselors. The district estimates it would cost $877,000 in 2021-2022 and $1,047,000 in 2022-2023.

For the 2022-2023 school year, “We plan to use the same approach as in the 2021-2022 school year,” the district said. “We will continuously monitor the data and make adjustments as needed.”

Souders Elementary School’s secretaries are spotlighted on the school sign. Elementary School’s secretaries are spotlighted on the school sign. Gary Budzak | The Gazette

By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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