PREBLE COUNTY — Preble Shawnee Local School District staff traveled many roads in the district to wave to and greet students during a staff parade on Thursday, April 9. Staff members drove very slowly, maintaining their distance, but making sure to show their students how much they miss them.
Ohio schools have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 crisis. Originally, it was meant to be a three week closure, but was then extended through the end of April. The new order extended the closure until May 1.
Due to this order, teachers and students have not seen each other since March, which is hard on both. Many schools have been doing online lessons, so education has continued throughout the closure, but it is not the same as face-to-face interactions with students.
According to Camden Primary Principal Heather Campbell, some of the teachers in her building reached out to her with the idea for the staff parade.
“They had seen a couple of other schools that were planning one and wanted to participate in one as well,” she explained. “My staff [and] the whole district truly miss their students and feel disconnected with them during this time.”
She took the idea to Superintendent Matt Bishop and once given approval, she began working on a parade route with the help of Jennifer Taulbee. The parade goes from the Jr/Sr High school, to Lakengren, Camden, West Elkton, and Gratis before circling back around to the Jr/Sr High School. Street-to-street directions were given on Facebook so the public could bring their children to watch the parade.
Social distancing was very important during this event. Teachers were driving their cars very slowly, but were instructed to not stop to talk. Those watching were told to keep a safe social distance between themselves and the people on the streets around them. People were not to congregate together and urged to maintain the six feet rule of thumb.
For Campbell, it was important for Preble Shawnee staff to show support to the entire community throughout this difficult time.
“We wanted to do this to be able to show our support to our students, families, and communities during this difficult time,” she said. “This is a way to safely show our support and encouragement and still follow our governor’s social distance guidelines. It helps to build morale during a stressful time. Most importantly it is a way to show everyone that we are all in this together.”