Dear Bulldog Families,
As we are officially in our second week of the government mandated closure of Olmsted Falls Schools, we are all learning how challenging this is. We are in an unprecedented time and I recognize that it’s difficult. Parents need their children to be in school and schools physically need their students in order to facilitate high levels of student engagement and learning. This process has been disrupted and it is frustrating. In many cases, parents are working from home alongside their children. Rather than fielding the typical homework kinds of questions, parents feel like they are in the driver's seat and teaching their children -- something that no one signed up for. Nevertheless, it is the situation that we are faced with and it came upon us quickly.
The purpose of this communication is to reach out to touch base, to thank you for your ongoing support during these challenging times, and to provide you with a few brief updates.
Teaching and Learning
While all school districts are different in the populations that they serve and the resources they have available, in general all had the common experience of a student coming through the doors of a building and entering a classroom. Our “new normal” has significantly altered this common experience and what has resulted is a high degree of variance between the way in which school districts are solving the problem before them -- how do we conduct school for three weeks when we’re not permitted to conduct it like we’ve always done before? We chose to create learning experiences that would permit both those with and those without internet connectivity to have equal opportunities to complete assignments during these initial three weeks. For those without internet service and/or adequate devices, paper assignments have been made available. As we prepare for the potential of being away from school for a longer period of time, the problem has become more complex and we are working collaboratively with our administrators and teachers.
While we await further orders from Governor DeWine, we are preparing for teaching and learning to occur from a distance for longer than the initially planned three weeks. As a result, there are a number of items that we are working through. We are collaborating with our faculty to establish a set of common expectations for distance learning that would be primarily electronically based.
In order to proceed in this manner, we need to take stock on a number of items. We need to ensure our staff have their materials, the proper technology and the knowledge to use it in order to interact with students from a distance. Secondly, we will need to ensure that our students have devices and connectivity to proceed in this manner. For those families that do not have devices or connectivity, we are working on a plan to provide these necessary resources.
Free School Lunch/Snack Program for Students
The partnership between Olmsted Falls City Schools, Olmsted Community Center and our local PTA volunteers to provide a free lunch/snack program to our students who may be experiencing food insecurity during the closure is continuing. The location of the operations of this program shifted this week from Olmsted Community Center to our Falls-Lenox Primary School. For information on how to sign-up your student for this program, or how to donate food items, please click HERE.
Teachers and Administrators
Our teachers and building administrators continue to be readily accessible via email and phone. Teachers are posting work, responding to questions from students and parents via email and finding new ways to connect and engage with their classes during this extended closure. At this time, the Governor’s standing “Stay at Home” order is through Monday, April 6th and we know that may change. As indicated, we are preparing and planning for the possibility of a longer time away. This will require us to plan additional learning. I strongly encourage parents with questions or concerns to reach out to your child’s school principal directly.
Connectivity and Device Inventory
This week our team of administrators and educators will be working to further address issues of connectivity and access to devices for our families who have not been able to fully engage due to lack of internet/wifi access and/or lack of a device. Families can expect to receive an email this week that will include a link to a brief form to help us analyze needs so that we can respond and assist. We will be asking families in need of internet access and/or a student device to take a few moments to complete the form.
Education/Engagement/Resources for Families
We continue to add information and resources for our families to the new OFCS Extended Closure Resource section of our website. We encourage you to take a few moments to explore the new content added including:
We understand that this is a stressful time for many families and that regular routines have been disrupted. Parents rely on schools to educate children, and schools rely on having students physically present in order to educate them. That's currently not happening and it presents some very large challenges for everyone. Our district and its schools were not initially designed to be online and engage in full distance learning, however we are embracing this challenge and are solving problems to deliver a common educational experience in this manner.
We are now in week 2/day 3 of this situation and have been meeting to explore the challenges and opportunities above. I would ask that families continue to be patient with us as we work through these things. Anything that we will produce will never come close to an Olmsted Falls educational experience, but we are working on meeting the challenge that has been laid before us and our desire is to be great.
Please know that we are doing everything we can to keep learning continuing, keep you informed and answer your questions. If your family is in need of additional support in any way, please contact your building principal.
Your continued patience and understanding is appreciated.
Dr. Jim Lloyd
Superintendent for the Olmsted Falls City School District
26937 Bagley Rd.
Olmsted Township, OH 44138