School Closure Update

Dear Parent or Guardian,

This morning, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the 2019/20 school year.  Though I think many of us were expecting this announcement, it is still disappointing.  But, now that we know that we will not be returning to school buildings, we can begin to make decisions regarding several issues that we have so far been talking about in the hypothetical.

First among them is our desire to continue to improve the remote school experience for our students.  This is the second week of District’s Continuity of Education Plan and we believe it is a good time to ask you for feedback, both positive and areas for improvement.  Everyone’s individual responses will be read, but I hope you understand that we will be unable to act on individual responses because what may not be working well for one, may be working well for someone else.  Instead, we will look for patterns in the responses and work with our teachers to make adjustments for the greater good. The link to the survey is:​  (please copy and paste this link in your browser of choice or use the similar link provided in the School Messenger email)

The next thing we can share with the knowledge that school will not resume in the traditional sense is how grades will be determined for the 2019/20 school year.  Because each school or level is unique in their grade reporting – elementary v secondary, within secondary there is middle v high considerations of credit toward graduation, class rank, etc. – we considered each school separately remembering that the last day of school attendance was Friday, March 13th:

High School – there was one week left in the third quarter.  Because the third quarter normally ends right after the school musical and during winter sports playoffs, there traditionally has not been a “hard close” to this quarter.  Instead, there was time given for students to complete work, complete test corrections, etc., in order to earn the best possible third quarter grade.

Because of the loss of the last week of the 3rd quarter and the equity obstacles present with regard to providing additional time to improve numerical grades, a grade of pass/fail grades will be assigned for the third quarter with only those students who were failing be afforded the opportunity to complete work to achieve a passing grade.  These students will be individually contacted by high school staff and an individual plan will be developed with them to earn the passing grade based on their ability to complete on-line or hard copy work.

For the 4th quarter, all students will receive pass/fail grades based on “their reasonable effort” to complete the planned learning activities provided to them.  This standard of “reasonable effort” has been discussed with the District solicitor, along with the High School’s plan to monitor student participation in the planned learning activities and make regular and consistent contact with students who are not participating.  Before any student receives a failing designation for fourth quarter, the teacher must consult with Ms. Reber to determine whether or not there were individual circumstances, such as lack of internet connectivity, work schedules to provide income for the family, etc., that prevented the student from making a “reasonable effort”.  If it is determined that such circumstances exist, the student will receive a passing designation.

Because third and fourth quarter grades will be designated as pass/fail, class rank and National Honor Society determinations will be based on first semester grades only.  Students currently enrolled in a semester class that began second semester will be afforded the opportunity to select that course again even though they may have received credit for it via earning passing designations for third and fourth quarters.

Middle School – The third quarter at the middle school ended on March 13th, so they were able to complete their quarter and print report cards.  We chose not to mail those report cards while determining what would happen at the high school so as not to confuse parents.  We will mail MS report cards shortly.

As for the fourth quarter, there will be no grades assigned, pass/fail or otherwise assigned.  You might think this is inconsistent with what is happening at the high school and it is different, but, high school students accumulate credits in both required and elective courses toward graduation as defined by Board policy.  That is not the case for students in grades K-8.

Grades K-5 – Like the high school, Kelly and Linntown had a week left in the third quarter when school was closed.  And, like the middle school, elementary school students do not accumulate credit for graduation (promotion).  Therefore, third quarter elementary grade reporting will be based on the work done up to March 13th.  Those report cards will be sent home once teachers are able to return to the building as they need access to materials and technology in their classrooms to finalize the report cards.

With respect to schools not reopening this year, I think the sentiment that I’ve heard most is disappointment for those students looking forward to spring and end of year activities, especially our seniors.  What about prom, graduation, etc.?  We’ve seen how quickly things have changed over the last few weeks and so I think it would be premature to make decisions and announcements regarding events such as these.  Instead, I would like to remain optimistic and share that the District is committed to organizing these events when it is safe to do so.

Last, I want to share a request from Secretary Rivera to encourage everyone to complete the 2020 Census.  Much of our Federal tax dollars are rerouted to states based on the Census.  As this current crisis moves forward and concludes, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) will receive funds to redistribute to communities across Pennsylvania based on our Census participation and results.

If you are celebrating Passover or Easter during what would have been our Spring Break, let me extend my best wishes to you and your family,

Thank you,

Steve Skalka

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