As state guidelines remain uncertain, the Delaware City School District is already making preparations for the return of school in August.
State leadership has not yet released plans for what education will look like this fall, but Delaware City Schools Superintendent Heidi Kegley has already changed a few things at buildings throughout the district to improve safety during the summer.
“We are actively implementing changes in our buildings,” she said. “Currently, all staff must complete a symptom check before reporting to work, and our school nurses have been working to modify our school clinics to ensure proper protocols for all students.”
Kegley said the district has been installing more wellness stations throughout buildings to increase access to hand sanitizers, and officials will be reviewing the district’s visitor policies.
This summer, local families will come to Willis Education Center to register their students for classes, and Kegley said the district has already taken measures to ensure the process is as safe as possible.
“Through the use of sneeze guards and plexiglass barriers at Willis, we are able to safely allow for in-person registration and background checks,” Kegley said. “Our plans and practices will continue to evolve as we receive additional guidance.”
Kegley added the district is currently considering several scenarios for school this fall.
“We will be surveying our staff and families to assist in our planning,” she said. “As we wait for guidance from state health and education leaders, we are planning for several scenarios, which include a full return to our buildings and hybrid instructions models for some in-person and some online learning. We have collaborated with local health officials to implement a plan for our athletic teams to start working together in small groups as outlined by the OHSAA.”
Kegley said the district will continue to use Canvas, a digital learning platform, this fall.
“We believe Canvas offers an excellent online option,” Kegley said. “Canvas provides access for our families to be observers on their child(ren)’s classes. We saw an increase in the number of families viewing the individual classes. Regardless of in-person or online education, we will continue to use Canvas to connect with students and families. We also learned we need a variety of tools, including online meeting platforms to be more successful as we move forward.”
Kegley said the district used Canvas as a platform before the COVID-19 outbreak, and she was happy with how everyone handled the transition to online learning.
“Overall, we were very pleased with our transition to online learning,” she said. “Our staff and students demonstrated great flexibility and a real commitment. Our previous use of Canvas at the middle and upper-grade levels certainly provided an advantage for many of our students. We are fortunate to have an excellent team of teaching and learning coaches that were able to support teachers in adopting best practices and provide instructional videos for families.”
Kegley praised family and students for adapting to the changing education environment this past semester.
“Our families were incredibly gracious throughout online learning,” she said. “We completed a survey with families prior to spring break and made many adjustments to our learning plans based on their feedback. Our teachers, counselors, and principals were able to reach out and provide direct support to many families who were struggling to engage with online learning. Of course, many of our students missed seeing their teachers and engaging with friends each day.”
Though many students and teachers adapted quickly, Kegley said some students struggled with the transition, and the district did its best to meet students’ needs.
“Our staff and students did an excellent job with online learning,” she said. “Throughout the past few months, our teachers learned many ways to connect with students and provide exceptional lessons. That said, online learning was difficult for some students. Many students crave the connectedness of being in a classroom and receiving in-person instruction. We continued to make adjustments and enhancements to ensure our students felt connected to their teachers.”
Kegley said Monday that overall, the district is grateful and pleased with how staff, students, and the community handled the unprecedented end of the school year.
“Considering the challenges, we were very pleased with the efforts of our staff and students,” Kegley said. “While we missed some important year-end events, we were able to adapt to provide many experiences, including fifth grade clap out, sixth grade orientation, kindergarten information night, senior awards night, and many more virtually. We are grateful to our community partners who helped to ensure we had a safe and special graduation to honor the accomplishments of our seniors.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.