Big Walnut to close Tuesday

By Gary Budzak -

SUNBURY — Big Walnut Local Schools will be closed to students from Tuesday, March 17, through April 3 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus.

In addition, the school district is canceling or postponing all extracurricular events and activities.

The announcement was made by district Superintendent Angie Hamberg late Thursday afternoon. School will be held on Monday, March 16.

The regularly scheduled spring break for Big Walnut is March 23-27.

“We have been planning over the last few weeks for this possibility,” Hamberg said in the announcement, which is also on the district’s website. “As of now, we plan to implement remote learning for the week after spring break, March 30-April 3. Again, we will have a regular school day on Monday, March 16. Students should plan to stay home beginning March 17. We will work with our teachers over the next few days to finalize details and will provide an update soon on additional information.”

The district uses Schoology as its online learning platform. For those students who do not have internet access, they will need to contact their school office to help them with planning.

“Otherwise, in order to keep the phone lines open, please email questions that are directly related to the closure to, and we will get back to you as soon as we can,” Hamberg said. “Please see Schoology and our website for additional information. We will continue to update you as we learn more.”

On Tuesday, Hamberg told Big Walnut families that the district was continuing flu-prevention protocols such as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces daily, reminding students to wash their hands, and preparing contingency plans.

The closure of all schools in the state was ordered by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday. It is said that he will reassess the situation in early April to determine when students can return to classes.

“Gov. DeWine has taken an extraordinary step today to protect the health and safety of Ohio’s residents, students and educators,” said Paolo DeMaria, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a statement issued Thursday. “We appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from schools across the state during this time and their focused activity to be ready for this reality. We anticipate continued cooperation as we transition to this period of suspended in-person activity as seamlessly as possible. We are especially grateful to schools that have proactively developed plans to keep learning going even if school buildings aren’t open. There is a lot of momentum in Ohio’s schools right now and we would hate to see that momentum stalled, although we understand that today’s announcement does mean there will be disruptions.

“We want to thank students, staff, families and caregivers who will need to exercise a great deal of flexibility in the coming weeks. We know this action causes disruption to established routines and expectations, but it was a necessary step to slow the spread of the outbreak.”

By Gary Budzak

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

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