Local school districts work to maintain students’ educations


By Melanie Speicher - and Kyle Shaner



Teachers Aid Sara Cowan, of Sidney, hands out a school lunch in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Lunches are still being handed out despite school buildings being closed.

Teachers Aid Sara Cowan, of Sidney, hands out a school lunch in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Lunches are still being handed out despite school buildings being closed.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Tech Facilitator Brian Moses, far right, hands a Chromebook to Rylie Tucker, 7, as Rylie’s mom, Kelly Tucker, far left, all of Sidney, fills out registration paperwork in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Also filling out computer registration paperwork is Amanda Plaisted, of Sidney. Kids are being given the laptops so they can continue their education while the physical classrooms are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY – Faced with unprecedented challenges as the result of the coronavirus pandemic, local school administrators said they’ve seen their students and staff adapt and find ways to continue learning.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on March 12 that all schools in the state would suspend in-classroom instruction for at least three weeks beginning on March 17. That left just two school days for administrators and teachers to establish procedures and prepare their students for new learning methods.

“Keep in mind that our teachers have never done these things before,” Houston High School Principal Jeff Judy said. “They found out that we were going this direction at 3 p.m. on March 12. They worked extremely hard to have things ready to go for students by Tuesday, March 17. It has been truly impressive.”

With in-person classes suspended, much of the instruction has navigated to online learning. Schools have utilized Google Classroom, Kahn Academy and Schoology learning systems along with Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams and Zoom communications tools.

“There have been some positives out of this whole COVID-19 mess,” Botkins Superintendent Jeff McPheron said. “I watched yesterday as 40-plus fifth graders spent time in a Zoom meeting with their two classroom teachers, gifted teacher, enrichment teacher, student teacher and even a long-term sub teacher participating. Their discussion set up future whole class meetings, lessons and what the classroom will look like moving forward the next couple weeks with student input. Real participation, student ownership and true learning is taking place for all those students.”

Some schools had web-based tools established prior to the governor’s order. Russia Local School invested in Schoology at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, and seventh through 12th grade students are communicating, sharing, and having assignments graded through that program.

“The biggest thing we are trying to do is meet the needs of our students and families while providing the best instruction we can during this time,” Russia Principal Marcus Bixler said.

Other schools had to react quickly to find solutions.

“We became a distance learning school in two business days,” said Matt Stephens, the technology director at Hardin-Houston Local School District. “During that time, teachers were trained in how to use Google Classroom for the foreseeable future with their students.

“Many of our teachers have gotten very creative in using technology to teach their students and continue education and have been very successful in doing so.”

To ensure students are equipped for the new online education procedures, schools have distributed laptops and tablets to families who didn’t have personal computers.

Kristina Baughman, the director of marketing and academics at Christian Academy School, said all 40 of the school’s extra laptops have been assigned to families that need them. That’s in addition to the personal laptops that already were assigned to every student in the sixth through 12th grades.

Beyond the online education, schools also have offered printed packets that parents can pick up or are delivered to homes, sometimes with meals for students.

“I am so proud of all of the members of the Hardin-Houston educational community,” Judy said. “These are conditions in which none of us have ever seen, but our staff, students and parents have rallied to make the best of an unbelievably arduous period of time.”

Schools are confident the steps they’ve taken will allow their students to thrive during this ongoing situation.

“While I do not know what the future holds for us all as our state and nation continue to battle this pandemic, I do know that our community and school will continue to do its best to help each other and provide the best services we can for our children and families,” McPheron said. “Shelby County and Botkins is a special place.”

Sidney City Schools students have just returned from their annual spring break. Teachers preparing infromation for their students.

“We hope to come back to school on the (April) 6th but our teachers have been working for a couple of days now to be ready for full instruction starting on the 6th,” said Superintendent Bob Humble. “It’s very new to some but everyone is excited about a new way to teach our students and look forward to teaching the incredible kids of Sidney City Schools.”

Chromebooks were distributed to students who needed one on Tuesday and Wednesday. Families who need internet access and devices will be contacted in the near future about when their equipment will be ready.

Meals are being provided to students. Beginning Thursday, the district will be providing meals twice a week.

On Wednesday, March 25, student meal pick-up is 9 to 11 a.m. at Longfellow (parking lot door); Northwood (drop-off doors); Whittier (front of school); and Sidney Middle School (front of school).

If students live in the following areas, here is distribution information for those locations including the approximate time of delivery: Orbison Park – shelter house – 9:15 a.m.; Mystic Apts – first drive – 9:30 a.m..; Hill Top Apartments – Shelby Metropolitan Housing sign – 9:15 a.m..; Arrowhead Apartments – entrance – 9:15 a.m..; Port Jefferson – store – 9:30 a.m.; and Maplewood – Grange Hall – 10 a.m. Drivers will wait 20 minutes at these locations.

In an effort to limit social exposure, beginning Thursday, March 26, meal pick-up will take place two days a week – Monday and Thursday. Students will receive meals for Thursday/Friday on Thursday, and Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday on Monday. Pick-up- times will be changing to 10 a.m. to noon.

Student meal pick-up is 10 a.m, to noon at Longfellow (parking lot door); Northwood (drop-off doors); Whittier (front of school); and Sidney Middle School (front of school)

If students live in the following areas, here is distribution information for those locations including the approximate time of delivery:

Orbison Park – shelter house – 10:15 a.m.; Mystic Apts – first drive – 10:30 a.m.; Hill Top Apartments – Shelby Metropolitan Housing sign – 10:15 a.m.; Arrowhead Apartments – entrance – 10:15 a.m.; Port Jefferson – store – 10:30 a.m.; and Maplewood – Grange Hall – 11 a.m. Drivers will wait 20 minutes at these locations.

For more information call Joni Renner at 937-497-2206. Parents do not have to be present with the child at the time of pick-up. Meal Request Form: https://forms.gle/pSntaT3cUNhhLWeu7.

Because of the school closures, the Sidney High School musical has been postponed.

Prom is canceled; students have received an email about possibilities for an alternate date and need to complete a survey.

The Hall of Honor will be postponed.

All activities beyond April 6 will be a wait-and-see situation. Much of this depends on the direction of the state during this current three-week break.

Teachers Aid Sara Cowan, of Sidney, hands out a school lunch in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Lunches are still being handed out despite school buildings being closed.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2020/03/web1_SDN032520SchoolMeals-2.jpgTeachers Aid Sara Cowan, of Sidney, hands out a school lunch in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Lunches are still being handed out despite school buildings being closed. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Tech Facilitator Brian Moses, far right, hands a Chromebook to Rylie Tucker, 7, as Rylie’s mom, Kelly Tucker, far left, all of Sidney, fills out registration paperwork in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Also filling out computer registration paperwork is Amanda Plaisted, of Sidney. Kids are being given the laptops so they can continue their education while the physical classrooms are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2020/03/web1_SDN032520SchoolLaptops-2.jpgTech Facilitator Brian Moses, far right, hands a Chromebook to Rylie Tucker, 7, as Rylie’s mom, Kelly Tucker, far left, all of Sidney, fills out registration paperwork in the Longfellow Primary School parking lot on Tuesday, March 24. Also filling out computer registration paperwork is Amanda Plaisted, of Sidney. Kids are being given the laptops so they can continue their education while the physical classrooms are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

By Melanie Speicher

and Kyle Shaner

Reach Melanie Speicher at mspeicheer@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4822.

Reach Kyle Shaner at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach Melanie Speicher at mspeicheer@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4822.

Reach Kyle Shaner at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.