WCSD announces “Bridge Plan” collaborative with central Ohio districts to address needs of students & staff due to the pandemic

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Westerville City Schools Superintendent Dr. John Kellogg on Monday announced the district’s comprehensive approach to addressing the academic and social-emotional needs of students and staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the March 22 school board meeting, Dr. Kellogg presented the Bridge Plan framework, which evolved from weekly meetings of several central Ohio superintendents. It centers around four points of progress and levels of impact: Socio-Emotional Well-Being, Academic Achievement, Culture and Climate, and Equity and Accessibility. 

The framework is committed to the following:

  • Academic advancement post-pandemic requires a holistic response.

  • An equal commitment to capturing lost learning opportunities within a diverse group of students and scenarios.

  • Recognizing mental health impacts and creating positive, lasting socio-emotional outcomes for all students.

Currently mapped out for the next 18 months, the framework is designed to be aspirational, flexible, collaborative and driven by data. Leaders will engage with teachers and administrators as partners in this effort. 

Dr. Kellogg said addressing students’ learning gaps and their wellness needs isn’t a new concept for educators. But the framework builds on that work and brings it to scale so districts can meet the needs of more students.

“We’re trying to build a Central Ohio coalition of school districts around this framework and sharing ideas with each other and capitalizing on this and telling stories to our public about what our various school districts are doing post-pandemic moving forward,” he said.

The district has already applied the framework to its upcoming summer learning opportunities for students and staff as well as the extended learning plan Gov. Mike DeWine has requested all Ohio districts to develop that shows how districts plan to help students advance and make up for any learning that may have been lost or delayed because of the pandemic.

For instance, the district is offering intervention and enrichment options over the summer to address students’ learning needs. Elementary students can work on foundational skills in reading and math. Middle school students can fill in academic gaps in English/Language Arts, math and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). High school students can take courses for credit recovery or credit advancement. Middle and high school students can participate in a summer musical production.

In addition, the district is launching WCS Summer Ignite, a summer enrichment program where educators can share their passion or interest with students. It’s an opportunity to work with smaller groups of students to explore a topic of common interest, foster a joy of learning and help students reconnect and re-engage.

The summer programs will also feature social-emotional support for students: elementary students will connect with their teachers each morning as part of a wellness check before starting their lessons while two school counselors will be on-hand for middle and high school students.

As part of the extended learning plan, the district’s Teaching and Learning team has identified areas of success and recognized opportunities for growth, using data to identify learning gaps, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Paul Hopkins said.

Among the topics the Teaching and Learning team are examining: interventions for students with learning differences, academic support for gifted learners, new professional development in literacy for English Language teachers, online curriculum resources developed by Westerville teachers, summer program for special needs preschool students to help with learning that has been interrupted this year. 

The district will look at leveraging current partnerships and creating new partnerships to help students. For example, the district is working with the Westerville Public Library to help students obtain a library card and gain access to the library’s resources.

Hopkins said the district will spend time over the summer to assess culture and climate issues in the school and how to address them, looking at different ways to support teachers and students.

Watch the presentations on the Bridge plan, the district’s extended learning plan and summer school opportunities here.