A breakdown of how area school districts are preparing for the 2020-21 academic year
With the start of the 2020-21 school year right around the corner, school administrators, teachers and families are in the unenviable position of deciding the best courses of action for their classrooms and students. Here in the 150th Legislative District, local school districts are finalizing their plans. We’ll lay those out in this email and provide you some resources available through my office to assist parents, guardians and children.
Check out these links and information from our area school districts.
Perkiomen Valley School District
Highlights: The Board approved the health/safety plan. The Board considered the motion to approve the reopening of schools with the implementation of a hybrid model, along with a virtual instruction model option for all students. The Board approved an amendment to approve a virtual instructional model for the first 30 days of school, through Sept. 28, while the district continues to evaluate the safety of students and staff. If the Board decides to implement a different instructional model following the 30-day evaluation period, the virtual option will still be available for families that want to continue. The virtual format is called Virtual Voyage 2.0.
Norristown Area School District
Highlights: Superintendent released statement on plans. NASD will provide virtual instruction only for all students in all grades, K-12, through Jan. 8, 2021. Should conditions improve that would allow for in-person instruction to resume, in-person options will be offered, in addition to continuing with the virtual model, tentatively beginning Jan. 11, 2021. The virtual model will be the delivery of NASD curriculum by NASD teachers over synchronous instruction five days per week. Every student will be issued a Chromebook. NASD will continue to provide food service throughout the period of virtual learning. NASD has suspended fall athletics.
Spring-Ford School District
Highlights: The board of directors voted to follow the Red Plan for reopening schools this year, which means they will resume education virtually. Students in grades K-2 will have two to three hours of instruction every day. Students in grades 3-6 will have three to four hours of instruction every day. Students in grades 7-12 will have 45 minutes of instruction per core class and 30 minutes of instruction for electives every other day.
Students will use Canvas as their instructional platform with synchronous and asynchronous learning. Live instruction and virtual office hours may be held through Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Instruction will include both academic content and social-emotional learning. Teachers will continue to follow State Standard curriculums. The school district will try to provide students with all necessary textbooks. Families can submit a request for a device for their child to use, but there is a finite amount of Chromebooks. Information regarding food services and student interaction opportunities will be released soon. Special education teachers and case managers will be in contact with families to create lesson plans that best suit the needs of students.
Methacton School District
Highlights (virtual): Alternative option to being on premises. Any K-12 student is eligible. Uses Google Classroom and focuses on instruction, assessment and social emotional learning. School day is shorter because lunch, recess and transition time for classes is removed. Students will be assessed at the beginning of the year so teachers can address learning gaps and strengths. Activities will be held throughout the beginning of the year to build relationships and show students how to use online resources. Students will have access to teachers, as well as special ed teachers and support personnel.
Asynchronous lessons will be taught by Methacton teachers and 3rd party content may be included. Students will have continuous access to asynchronous lessons. Synchronous learning will include whole class, small group and individual meetings with teachers. Students will be given the same textbooks that they would be using in person. Students in grades 3-12 will be given a Chromebook and students in grades K-2 can request a device. Students who enroll in the online program can expect to stay there for the 2020-21 school year, though student progress will be assessed halfway through the year. Level of parent support/involvement varies depending on the student and age group. Grab and go meals will be available, as well as limited social opportunities for students.
Highlights (in-person): All students and staff will be required to screen their symptoms daily. If they feel, sick they must stay at home. Everyone has to wear face coverings at all times. They can only be removed when eating 6 feet apart or outdoors 6 feet apart. Classrooms will allow for social distancing. Students in grades K-6 will remain in their homerooms for most of the day. Older students will move to different classrooms in a staggered way to avoid crowded hallways.
All spaces will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day by staff and students. Ventilation in classrooms will be increased wherever possible. If students or staff test positive for the virus or show symptoms in schools, they will be sent home and not allowed to return until they have gained medical clearance or a negative COVID test. Students who have to quarantine will take their classes online, like those enrolled in the online program.
Support Services & Resources for Parents
The COMPASS Find Child Care and other Early Learning Programs can help. That includes help paying for child care (if you qualify), early learning programs (with various choices) and the voluntary Keystone STARS program that seeks to improve, support and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs.
I am encouraging parents and guardians to pay attention to any updates offered by your school district. These are unprecedented times. New information is coming out daily on changes to our situation in Montgomery County and in Pennsylvania. School boards are being tasked with having to make difficult decisions this year based on everchanging information and guidance. Be active partners in your school community and district. Together, we will get through this.
If you have questions about schools or any state-related issue, please contact my office at 484-200-8263 or email RepWebster@pahouse.net.
Rep. Joe Webster
150th Legislative District