CLEVELAND, Ohio — Going completely from in-person to online learning has not been easy for teachers and students at Horizon Science Academy Cleveland high school, but so far they’re acing it. 

  • The school has seen a nearly 100 percent participation rate in online activities
  • School officials say the success is due to measures taken once it was announced Ohio schools would be closing due to COVID-19
  • They're using Google Classroom and virtual platforms to focus not only on learning, but also check-in on students' emotional and mental health

Assistant principal of academics Megan McKinley says in part, the success is due to measures taken when schools were closed because of COVID-19 — measures which included loaning out Chromebooks to students in need. 

“Prior to closing the school, we had done a survey of the students to find out, do they have technology, do they have internet are they just using their phones, and most of our students said yes, a lot of them are just using cell phones. Fortunately, since schools have closed, platforms have started changing so that they can use it on smartphones,” she said.

The school, composed of 377 students, has seen an almost 100 percent participation rate in online activities weeks into virtual learning. McKinley says that is due to the dedication of the teachers who she says care about the students' success inside and outside of the classroom. 

“Our staff is so dedicated, that the thought of our kids not being in school is an added stressor, you know, are they eating, are they safe, are they staying home, you know, has someone explained to them the importance of self isolating,” McKinley said.

Marie Fisher teaches government and sociology and like many of Horizon Science Academy teachers, she uses Google Classroom to post assignments and platforms like Zoom and Skype to video chat with her students. 

Fisher says she’s trying to make the experience as normal as possible.

“My day-to-day is I try to post their classes, like, and give them the structure. I’m trying to post for their classes the same time their class would start throughout the day. So,our class started at eight o'clock, so I would make sure that I'm close by eight o'clock, that they are able to access it.” Fisher said.

Fisher says she’s using the technology to connect with her students daily, not only focusing on assignments and lectures, but to check in on their mental and emotional health. 

“Throughout the day we see these students that we have, these really strong relationships with the students, and so it is very trying to think that they might be in situations where, you know, they need support or something's going on or, I mean, they're just taken out of their normal routine and also put in sometimes a more stressful situation. some of their parents are in healthcare, some of their parents, you know, are losing their job,” Fisher said.

Her students say they're grateful for their teachers, who they say are going above and beyond to keep them on the right track. 

“It has been kind of hard because I like going to school in person because I like seeing my friends, I like seeing my teachers, but online school, it's okay. I’m not gonna say it's totally bad because I have more time to do my assignments," said a student.

“It has been really easy and my teachers are great with contacting me back and responding responding very fast," said a student.

Fisher says while, they’re doing well, everyone is excited to return back to school when it’s safe to do so. 

“The kids, you know, believe it or not are signaling like, you know I miss you and I, you know, I wish I could come to school and see you every day and I’m like, what, you know, okay, who are you? But they definitely miss the structure of school. and they miss. they miss their routine.” Fisher says.