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Academic Challenge to Proceed Virtually

Academic Challenge has been something students from 4th through 12th grade have looked forward to every year. For years, the meets have brought districts from around the area together for friendly competition. But, as has been the theme for much of 2020, COVID-19 has had an impact on how the meets will proceed, but the good news is they will proceed, and Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center is proud to continue to bring this opportunity to students.

Leanna Ferreira, coordinator of Academic Challenge and Gifted Consultant at Mid-Ohio ESC, said this year, out of an abundance of caution for the health of all involved, the meets will take place virtually. “Essentially, as long as the county is not purple,” said Ferreira, “each team will gather in one room and connect with another team and the reader via Zoom in a virtual room to quiz.” She said they will likely be in their home district building, though a district can contact Mid-Ohio ESC for a room to use should it be needed. 

The fall meet schedule for high school starts in just a few weeks. On October 26th, there will be a shortened version of a meet that will serve as a dry run for the new style of virtual meets to allow everyone to get used to the new rules and processes. Regular competitions will be held the afternoons of November 2nd, 9th and 23rd, with a tournament to be held on Saturday, November 21st. 

Some of the changes implemented are longer times allotted for questions to compensate for the virtual format, an online buzzer, and teams will need to develop a virtual way of sharing potential answers for the team questions so that the team captain can gain ideas from all members. Previously, teams would whisper among themselves as they sat next to each other at a table. “Within the virtual format,” said Ferreira, “the microphone would be open and whispers would be heard!”

Ferreira said she is excited Mid-Ohio ESC can provide students with a safe opportunity to compete this year despite the challenge of a global pandemic. “While managing the technology will lend a new set of challenges, I am anticipating that our tournaments and league play will result in the same high level of academic competition and enjoyment for all students. I even anticipate that some of the measures we have instituted will result in enhanced play when we have the opportunity to return to in-person competitions.”

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