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Teachers at Norwood City Schools learn new tricks during COVID-19 crisis

Posted at 9:22 PM, Apr 03, 2020

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

NORWOOD, Ohio - Emily Hutchison would normally be reading “The Three Little Pigs” to her K-2 students in the classroom. But the reading and math teacher at Norwood City Schools is making do with video lessons for now.

“There’s not a choice, so you just have to make it the best that you can,” Hutchison said. “And I’m going to work really hard and keep trying to learn.”

One huge adjustment for families across the Tri-State right now is education. That goes for teachers and school districts, too.

Hutchison and others are quickly adapting to the new reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Ohio and Kentucky to extend at-home learning until at least May. Indiana has already canceled in person classes for the rest the school year.

Besides creating interactive lessons, Hutchison has been having daily video chats with most of her reading students so she can see what they’re struggling with and help them. It’s not the same as being there in person, but she says it’s pretty close.

“Being able to annotate on the screen, I can circle things, I can write things. So all that has been really helpful,” Hutchison said.

Katie Dykes, a K-6 STEM teacher with Norwood City Schools, stars in a series of videos on the Norwood Innovation Lab YouTube page, along with her husband Marshall and their daughters, Claire and Lily. Marshall teaches fifth-grade science.

“We wanted to have that personal connection,” Katie said. “We realized we’re competing with Xbox and TV now, so trying to make it campy and fun and try to make fun of ourselves.”

The videos are full of practical lessons and fun projects for kids to do with regular stuff they can find around the house, like building a fort or even hybrid animals, all to keep the imagination flowing at home.

“We tried to bring a little bit of that back home to them, just so they don’t forget that we’re here,” Marshall said. “We care about them and we’re still trying to get them an education.”

By now, it’s safe to say teachers, parents and probably even students would prefer everyone be learning in a classroom. But with no other options, teachers are turning to things like Google, Zoom and YouTube to keep the learning going.

“It’s trying to take that kind of experience of learning and trying to apply that to what we’re doing here,” said Sean Weisgerber, a seventh-grade world history teacher.

Weisgerber is trying to share his big personality with the students from afar with a karaoke video challenge. He’s recorded some of his lessons on video so students can watch when they have free time and video chat with him during office hours with any questions.

“It’s definitely completely different,” Katie Dykes said. “I think all educators have really risen to the challenge to make this as workable as possible.”

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

Indiana

  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.