TIPP CITY, Ohio (WDTN) – Tipp City Exempted Village Schools will be implementing online programs for students grades 2 through 12 starting next week.

Schools in Ohio have been closed since March 12. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced earlier this week schools would remain closed through April 30, possibly longer as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. While Tipp City – like other local schools – had relied on some internet learning and take-home bags, the district is prepared to flip the switch on online learning next week.

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“Our initial response was to do paper packets, which allows individual teachers to create individual assignments,” Assistant Superintendent Steve Verhoff said. “What we are shifting towards now, as this situation becomes more extended, is a more online and collaborative approach between teams and courses. We need technology for this to be effective.”

Some students in the district have had readings and other gatherings using Zoom and similar group video chatting. Next week, Verhoff said, the district will roll out an online curriculum which includes getting computers and online capability to students without it, and finding the best ways for teachers to work together to teach.”

“You have teachers with different ranges and abilities with technology,” Verhoff said. “Some are great at conducting readings online, others can do Zoom meetings very well – we want to pool our strengths together and work collaboratively. While we are quarantined we don’t want people to feel they are on an island.”

Verhoff said the district would send an email to parents this week alerting them the school will be changing to an online format for grades 2 through 12. Verhoff said kindergartners and first-graders will have lesson plans put together by teachers in those grades along with their supervisors.

He said the district plans to use Google Classroom for much of its teaching but would also use Zoom, Google Hangouts and other tools that are available.

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“It’s been a challenge,” Verhoff said. “We’ve had to reset our baseline. You’re operating in the shadow of a global pandemic and to think it’s going to be business as usual is unrealistic. Our focus and goal is to provide a meaningful learning experience for students. We aren’t worried about grades, we just want to give them a meaningful learning experience.”

Verhoff said this experience isn’t new – schools who have suffered through tornadoes, hurricanes or wildfires have had to take steps to deal with the situations as best they can in the last several years. Now the entire country is dealing with it.

“I know more adversity lies ahead but what I know about teachers in general is they are the most stubborn and persistent people you know and they’ll bring that to teaching students,” Verhoff said. “This isn’t going to stop us.”

Verhoff said the state has given Ohio districts flexibility toward their curriculums. He said there won’t be any mandated testing this year. He also said nothing can replace the brick and mortar school environment when it comes to providing a social atmosphere for kids.

“I think you have to remain flexible and that’s what this calls for,” Verhoff said. “It would be great if we could bring the kids back in May and bring closure to the school year but we have to do the best we can for society.”

For the latest on COVID-19 and how it affects local schools, visit the Ohio Department of Education website.