SUNBURY — Like the other school districts in Delaware County, Big Walnut Local Schools has had to make adjustments to comply with Ohio’s stay-at-home order. On Monday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement that in-person classes are canceled for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, the district commented on Facebook, “We know there will be many questions as a result of this announcement; we are working quickly to address those, as well as identify alternative solutions for the impacts of this decision. In the meantime, we appreciate all of you for your ongoing support as we work through this together.”
BW students have been provided devices, given internet access, and are learning remotely using Schoology on their Chromebooks. Remote learning began March 30, after students returned from spring break. Teachers were instructed to give their students meaningful assignments and not bombard them with busywork.
The district’s Facebook page has become a valuable resource for many families and students. For example, a post talks about National Library Week (April 19-25).
“While our libraries are physically closed to practice social distancing, there are many amazing online resources library staff are working to provide for the community including online book clubs, virtual scavenger hunts and digital story times,” the post reads. “Follow the Community Library — Sunbury, OH on Facebook to catch all the programs!”
Also on April 17, Big Walnut teachers and staff wore purple to honor military families. April is the month of the Military Child.
In addition to the Facebook page, the district’s website contains valuable information for students and parents, including “Mental Health Briefs,” which are posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The cancellation of the in-person March 17 primary election is impacting the district, which has an issue on the ballot. The public is being urged to vote by absentee ballot. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, Tuesday, April 28, is the final day of Ohio’s primary election.
“This was a huge blow for us, as we were working toward that and trying to inform our public,” said Superintendent Angie Hamberg at the Big Walnut Local Schools Board of Education meeting March 19. This adults-only meeting took place in person, with each board member seated 6 feet apart, and only essential personnel were present. In April, the board began meeting virtually.
“We’re obviously more focused on trying to inspire and guide our students and community through this crisis,” Hamberg said at the March 19 meeting. “We want to make sure that everybody is home and healthy. So hopefully, we can get through this and people can (vote) … We still have a need for this levy.”
For now, the new Prairie Run Elementary is still on schedule to open Aug. 19, Hamberg said at the meeting.
Big Walnut has been recognizing seniors with profiles on social media, listing their activities and achievements, while also discussing their post-high school plans.
For the class of 2020, BW is currently planning to reschedule prom and graduation in July.
“Can’t imagine what those seniors are feeling right now,” Hamberg said. “We know this is a huge stressor. A lot of these things are out of our control.”
In honor of the 2020 class, the district turned on the lights at the high school football and lacrosse stadiums Monday night for 20 minutes and 20 seconds.
“I want to thank our community and staff,” Hamberg said. “Everyone has been awesome. This is a situation no one wants to be in right now, but if you have to be in a situation like this, this is the type of community you want to be in.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.