HUDSON – While the physical school buildings may be closed, per Gov. Mike DeWine’s mandate in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, district teachers and staffs are working to bring their lessons online through a series of digital tools.

Assistant Superintendent Doreen Osmun said during the school board’s March 16 meeting that the first three days “will be like the first three days of school,” with teachers and students learning to connect “and figuring out glitches.”

“The goal here is to connect to our students each and every day,” Osmun said. “This is a new way of working, a new way of interacting with students.”

Osmun said that Zoom, which offers remote video conferencing, is offering its services to schools for free through July, and that the district is working with Zoom to offer synchronous instruction to students.

“We are really working on Zoom,” Osmun said. “It’s a really nice resource.”

Osmun said that although online learning and resources are important, it was equally important for students to have time away from screens.

“They can go outside, play games, try different kinds of activities,” Osmun said. She added that activities can include something like board games. She encouraged parents to set up a schedule, including wakeup and bedtimes, to keep children on a schedule “and keep their learning mind, keep a routine.”

Pupil Services Director Kelly Kempf said the district also was working on plans on how to best serve its students with special needs. These plans will depend on the needs of the students, but that teachers and case managers will be working with families to try to adapt student needs to the online materials.

Superintendent Phil Herman said that communication is necessary in the coming weeks.

“It’s all new right now,” Herman said. “We are encouraging them to reach out to their students.”

The district is working to offer food for all students on free/reduced lunch plans, Herman said.

“We also recognize that this is an extremely difficult time for many others,” he said.

Families who find themselves in need of assistance should contact Food Service Supervisor Kim Ciborek ciborekk@hudson.k12.oh.us, or at 330-653-2018; or School Social Worker Julie Schultz schultzj@hudson.k12.oh.us, or at 330-653-1443.

Students are encouraged to enjoy spring break, which is March 23 through 27, Herman said.

“Students will not be required to login to Google Classroom,” Herman said. “A K-2 email will not be sent the week of spring break. Try to take advantage, if possible, of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, go for bike rides, or take walks. It is still vitally important to follow the physical distancing guidelines, but it is also important and healthy for our students to be physically active in order to take care of the mind and body.”

Herman said that the weeks ahead will be a challenge, adding that the physical school closures could extend beyond April 3.

“This is a heartbreaking time for our schools,” Herman said. “Our students really deserve better. The option to go to school, and the interactions they can have, cannot be overrated. The switch to online will not replace those meaningful opportunities. We will do our best to bridge the gap, but it’s tough to replace what we do in our buildings every day.”

Osmun said she noted “a moment of profound sadness that we wouldn’t have our students for three weeks” during staff meetings on how to implement online learning.

For updates on the district and COVID-19, visit https://www.hudson.k12.oh.us/Page/15580 online.

Board president Dave Zuro said that as of now, the school board’s regular meetings will convene as scheduled; however, it’s coffee scheduled for April 8 at Panera will be cancelled. In addition, the board and administration will look into live streaming options in case more meeting restrictions were put in place in the future.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC