Steubenville City Public Schools had as its goal operating as normally as possible this school year, so educators spent the spring and summer learning computer programs, putting lessons online, buying computers and hot spots, and clicking together plexiglass desk dividers. “We’ve probably gone through more change since March than I did through my entire career,” Superintendent Melinda Young says. One example: A teacher who began the pandemic not knowing how to attach a document to an email is now certified as a Google Classroom teacher.

The district is committed to provide as much in person instruction as possible, but, Young says, if the virus forces another closure, “We can go remote” in a much more prepared way than when buildings abruptly shut in the spring.

Part of what has allowed Steubenville to open as smoothly as it did is many years of building a collaborative culture. Steubenville City Public Schools has long been one of Ohio’s higher performing districts, and educators there have credited its success to a strong culture of collaboration and a common curriculum at the elementary and middle school levels.

“We’ve already created a culture where our teachers do not work in isolation,” said West Elementary Principal Lynnett Gorman.

This collaboration means that teachers Marci Covey and Cherie Metcalf feel that they are able to teach in person and online simultaneously. They are not having to create materials on the fly but simply go to what has been prepared, either by themselves or their colleagues.

And students have been able to access the full curriculum. High school seniors Mary Miller and Gabriella Carrocci will be able to graduate as planned with their associate degrees in hand, part of Ohio’s Early College Credit Plus initiative. “I was really happy because at the beginning of this whole lockdown and quarantine when it first happened, I did miss some college classes, Miller says. “But I ended up being able to take them when we came back — showing that the school was prepared and trying to help us be able to graduate with our associate degree at the end of the year.”