GALLIA COUNTY — With Ohio schools being closed for the rest of the school year, Gallia County Local Schools Superintendent Jude Meyers said that the district is looking into plans about what classes might look like for the return of students in fall.
“We’ve been pushing out work to our kids since March 13,” said Meyers. “Online is great, if it’s something you have to go to. People (from outside southeast Ohio) don’t understand the challenges in this county where you go 10 to 15 minutes (driving) without cell service or you don’t have internet access or your bandwidth is so limited… We can’t provide for our kids what other kids in the state are getting and that’s where the inequity comes in.”
Meyers noted that around a third of the district’s 2,400 students don’t have access to internet at home.
“Just like this pandemic caught our healthcare exposed with not enough ventilators or masks, it also exposed the tools that we need to be safe in education and that is connectivity and the internet and access to online instruction,” said Meyers. “If we end up having everything we need to prevent another pandemic or something like it, we also need to invest in the infrastructure to make sure that we can transition from traditional to nontraditional (education).”
Meyers said the district is brainstorming the future of classes for when students are slated to return to school activities in August.
“We don’t know how open our society is going to be then,” said Meyers. “We’ve got to be ready to reduce the size of our classrooms, maybe go to more of a college-type of schedule. Maybe certain kids don’t attend every day and we need to pay particular attention to our kids who may not have internet or need more face-to-face instruction. We may go from a traditional, having 25 in a class, to smaller sizes, under 10.”
Meyers said that students would continue to be instructed by the district but that schools would need to get “creative” in how to make certain that all students received the proper attention and were in a safe atmosphere to receive it. That may mean students who have access to internet work at home while others who require special education or have no access to internet are physically present in the school.
Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.