ASHLAND -- When Gov. Mike DeWine announced plans to close Ohio schools for a period of at least three weeks to limit the spread of COVID-19, Ashland City School District set out to accomplish two things: To continue instruction and to ensure children received meals during the duration of their time away.
Reflecting Friday on the district's first week of remote education and meal service, teachers like Edison Elementary School's Erika Heller and Debbie McNaull say its the collaboration between teachers, parents, the district's staff and leadership that's allowed the district to adapt.
"All of what we've done has come about as a team effort. Everyone is working to figure it out as quickly as they can so the education doesn't stop. We want to keep these kids going," Heller said.
"Teachers are talking with each other about the best ways to help our kids. They are sharing ideas right and left and that's really great to see," McNaull said, building off her colleague's comment.
Both Edison and Reagan Elementary School teachers have began uploading read-along videos to the district's online learning platform for their students to enjoy.
In a video posted last week, McNaull read "From Egg to Chicken," a children's book explaining how the process of how an egg becomes a chicken. Before reading the book, McNaull showed students an egg on a plate. She pointed to the different parts of the egg, which she had earlier labeled.
To offer the most options, students from either elementary school can access the other building's read-alongs, too.
"I thought it was important because the read-alouds are huge to help in growing their vocabulary and teaching them to read properly," McNaull said.
Education technologist Ben Spieldenner said Friday nearly 350 clicks were recorded on the webpage where the read-alongs are posted.
Teachers like Heller and McNaull have often worked into the evenings to answer questions from parents.
"The feedback that I get from parents is the kids are really missing their teachers and their schools, and all of us teachers, we just want to get back, too," Heller said. "We've been talking to parents, answering phone calls from 8 in the morning until 8 at night, and letting them know that anything they need, even if its not school related, we're here to help them."
Solutions are currently being developed to allow students to turn in paper assignments online many teachers had sent paper packets home with students last Friday. This could involve a photo submission through Google forms. It's expected to be initiated next week.
Ways to assess student progress are also in the works.
"This is not about grades. We don't want to give grades to penalize them. This is about assessing for what kids will need to move forward, and that they don't only maintain but get better," said Superintendent Doug Marrah.
Whether or not in-person classes are back in session by mid-April, the district will be prepared, Marrah said.
"We have three weeks to get ready, and we'll have a plan," he said. "Every day we're getting better. Every day it's amazing the work that happens here.
"By noon on Tuesday, we realized we were going to be able to not only maintain, but keep our students moving forward."
Echoing the same sentiment as the two Edison teachers, Marrah said this is largely due to district-wife collaboration.
To stay informed and learn how to navigate the online educational platform, parents and guardians are encouraged to view the parent tutorial video on district's homepage.
For those who may need further assistance, the district has launched a help service. Parents or guardians can now email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (419) 289-4500.
The messages will be responded to from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
If calling and leaving a message, please include: the student’s name, the student's school, the best number to reach you or the student, the best time to call and a detailed description of the problem.
"With the new online ACS services, we understand that sometimes there are issues. If you find yourself needing help with logging in or problems with a password, we are providing the additional support you may need. We are here to help," the district said in a press release.
Additionally, the school district has asked that all individuals respect the mandate that none of its facilities be utilized during the governor’s orders except for school personnel. This includes playgrounds, community stadium and athletic facilities.
Food Delivery and Pick-Up Update
Going into its second week of remote meal service, Ashland City School District continue its meal delivery and pick-up options with a few changes.
The district will deliver meals Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and offer pick-up Tuesday and Thursday. Each meal delivery will include two meal sets -- two breakfasts and two lunches. This feeds children beyond the required five days per week by providing an extra breakfast and lunch for the weekend.
Additionally, volunteers with Ashland City School badges will assist in deliveries next week. This will allow the district to ensure consistent, healthy help.
In its first week of remote meal service, Ashland City School District prepared 2,529 breakfasts and 2,529 lunches. A small amount of those meals have been picked up from AMS or Edison, but these meals were served primarily through delivery. The two pickup locations provided an average of 100 meal sets at their locations.
The most update information on meal service delivery/pickup schedules and contacts are available www.ashlandcityschools.org.
If families have not signed up for delivery, the instructions for building specific Remind 101 texting options are on the website. Due to the complexity of delivery routes, the district will cut off the entry of new recipients each day at 10 a.m. on delivery days. This change will allows the delivery staff and volunteers to stay on schedule and to not exceed the food budgeted for that day.
Ashland City School District's Meal Service schedule for March 23 to March 27
Monday, March 23
Meal delivery will be offered 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday March 24
Meal pick-up will be offered at Edison Elementary and Ashland Middle School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday March 25
Meal delivery will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday March 26
Meal pick-up will be offered at EdisonE Elementary and Ashland Middle School 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Further, Associated Charities will hold a pop-up food bag drive thru to offer an additional meal pick-up at First United Methodist Church parking lot on Cottage Street. This is located across from the old AMS site at 345 Cottage Street.
Friday March 27
Meal delivery will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday, March 28
Through Matthew 25 ministries produce and grocery drive-thru distribution will be offered Luray Lanes, 647 East Main St., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
Additional meal service opportunities for Ashland
The The Ashland Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center at 527 East Liberty St. will offer a walk-up or drive-thru meal service from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Kroc Center will also have a food pantry available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Those who wish to use the pantry service are asked to call ahead at (419)281-8001 or check www.ashlandkroc.org for recent updates prior to their visit.
Associated Charities has a food pantry available for those in need from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Call ahead at (419)281-6061.
How the community can help
An emergency response fund has been set up through the Ashland County Community Foundation for those who would like to support the district's efforts to go above and beyond in its meal service.