story by Marleigh Winterbottom | art by Alexandra Fernholz

When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on March 22, 2020 that schools would be going remote, Wyandot Early Childhood School (ECS) teacher Abigail Detcher feared for the worst. While older classes have been able to move to platforms like Canvas, early elementary grades, such as kindergarten, have had a difficult transition.

“It’s a hands-on classroom. The kids don’t use a computer all day long,” Detcher told Spark. “[Students are] usually talking in small groups or collaborating, but they don’t get all of that [right now]. It’s been hard to figure out how they can talk to each other and collaborate.”

Teachers like Detcher have had to get creative with new approaches to collaborations and activities. One of the most utilized tools has been a video call program called Zoom.

“For most kids, it’s like an appointment, and they don’t miss it,” Detcher says. “They are just so excited that I have to mute the call a lot so I can hear myself think, because they just can’t wait to share.”

One of Detcher’s students, kindergartener Kendall Uhl, has enjoyed the experience. 

“I get to see all of my friends,” Uhl told Spark. “It’s so crazy outside so we can’t go anywhere.”

Wyndot’s annual ABC countdown, a series of activities held on the last 26 days of school for kindergarteners, has been adapted to fit the needs of students at home. This includes the switch from the “Zip Up your Backpack” last day of school, to “Zoom Day” which provides a final goodbye that all the students can enjoy virtually. “Kindness Day” also allowed the students to share their acts of kindness with their classmates through a video call.

Detcher also asked a friend to dress up and join a Zoom call as Cinderella to sing to the kids. Other special guests included instructional aids, Wyandot Principal Liz Gruber, Resource Officer Deputy Katie McMahon, and school librarian Edna Casey.

“I’ve been around kids for 30 years and I’m telling you, they still surprise me,” Detcher says. “And I love that, I love the variety, and I love the surprises that they bring. And that’s why I miss them so much right now.”

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