MEIGS COUNTY — Schools in Ohio, including Eastern, Meigs and Southern Local school districts, will begin an “extended spring break” this week on the order of Governor Mike DeWine.
The schools will be closed through April 3, pending any possible changes from the state.
In addition to schools being closed, there will be no practices, meetings, activities or events between now and April 6, 2020, at the schools.
Buildings and other school properties are closed to all outside groups during the three-week closure, this includes any camps, youth organizations, community athletic programs, or other groups who routinely use the school buildings.
The week of March 16-20 will be a complete shutdown for the area schools, with no students or staff reporting.
The week of March 23, the schools will be in planning with regard to delivery of meals and class work to students. Some students in the Southern and Meigs school districts received classwork packets on Friday. The districts will be planning in the coming days how to get additional work to students.
“We also plan to have our phone lines open and staff in all buildings the second week. All scenarios and plans to deliver academic work to our students via website, class apps, and other electronic methods of delivery will be attempted,” stated Meigs Local Supt. Scot Gheen in a letter sent home Friday. Updates will be posted to the Meigs Local website www.meigslocal.org.
Superintendents Tony Deem, Steve Ohlinger and Gheen emphasized that plans are still being finalized on how to best meet the needs of the students in their districts and that additional information will be provided through all-calls, district websites and other methods as it becomes available.
As the schools are closed, local agencies and organizations are working to meet the food related needs of students.
The Meigs Prayer Task Force/Rise Program will be running a drive/walk thru sack lunch service for children March 16-20 at the Middleport Church of Christ from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
On Friday, Governor DeWine approved two waiver requests to continue school breakfast and lunch programs during the closures.
Schools will be permitted to provide every child under 18 with “grab and go” meals to ensure that no child goes hungry during the course of Governor DeWine’s order to close schools. The Ohio Department of Education will also develop a process to give school districts the unprecedented ability to deliver meals to homes.
“For some students, the only regular meals they receive are the ones they get at school, and we realize closing schools will make it even more difficult for them and their families,” said Governor DeWine in a news release. “In these uncertain times, we are ensuring children will have access to healthy meals, guaranteed, just like if they were going to school.”
Additionally, day cares will be able to stay open at this time, DeWine stated.
Governor DeWine signed an executive order on Friday easing the teacher/student ratio currently required for day cares and preschools. This loosening of regulations will help providers continuously care for students during a time when staffing levels are low due to illness.
Although daycare centers and preschools are not included in his school closure order, Governor DeWine on Friday urged parents to keep their children home from these facilities if economically able to do so. He did, however, encourage parents not to leave their children in the care of an elderly babysitter over the age of 60, as these individuals are the highest risk to become seriously ill from COVID-19.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.