Continuity of Education Plan

Dear South Williamsport Families,

Thank you for being patient and supportive during these past two weeks as we developed a plan for providing learning opportunities for the district’s 1,287 students. I recognize that this is a difficult time period for many of our families as we all learn to accept social distancing, business and school closures, and the associated challenges of COVID-19. Yet in the midst of this crisis, I have also witnessed incredible generosity as neighbors reach out to help neighbors. Like many challenges we have endured as a community and a nation, we will overcome this challenge as well.

This letter today is to invite you as parent or caregiver to partner with us to ensure we can continue to provide learning opportunities to your student while schools remain closed. The teachers are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to find new and innovative ways to teach your child. However, for this to be fully successful we need your assistance too.

Governor Wolf announced on March 23, 2020, that Pennsylvania schools will remain closed through April 6, 2020. School is then scheduled to open for staff to prepare schools and classrooms and subsequently receive children on April 9, 2020; but due to the effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, this might not be possible. As a result, beginning on March 30, 2020, all South Williamsport Area School District students will have the opportunity to engage in REVIEW and ENRICHMENT activities created by their teachers as our continuity of education plan.

CONTINUITY OF EDUCATION PLAN OVERVIEW

REVIEW AND ENRICHMENT FOR ALL STUDENTS
REVIEW will focus on what students were engaged in when schools were last in session on March 13, 2020. These activities will last through the week of April 9, 2020. If school closure is extended beyond April 9, students will begin the ENRICHMENT phase. This phase will last until schools reopen or until the scheduled end of this school year.

EXPECTATIONS
In alignment with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s guidance for continuity of education, South Williamsport teachers have been working in teams to develop these REVIEW and ENRICHMENT activities for students. These activities are optional for students. While they may receive teacher feedback, students will not receive a grade towards any course completion. We do, however, strongly encourage all students to work with their teachers and stay engaged with learning.

For all students, these activities are optional. REVIEW and ENRICHMENT is intended to reach every child, but it cannot be considered planned instruction. Although teachers can provide feedback, comment on student work, answer questions, and engage students in discussions, their work will not be graded.

After reviewing the internet and device survey that was completed by parents and evaluating the access of teachers, there are currently too many barriers to reaching all students equally in order to provide daily planned instruction to every student for the remainder of the school year. The administration and teachers are as frustrated as you are that this cannot occur. This will be a larger conversation with the school board regarding educational investments as we adjust to a new normal in our communities and school system.

With that being said, I do believe that in partnership with parents, the activities the staff are producing will be powerful learning opportunities for students. There is no less creativity, no less opportunity, and no less learning, provided that students choose to engage with the materials. Your assistance to promote this with your child will greatly improve its effectiveness.

If schools remain closed past April 9, 2020, the ENRICHMENT phase will be more flexible for teachers to create learning activities and opportunities for students. Teachers are currently working on these activities, and they are very excited to roll them out to students. As part of ENRICHMENT, some teachers may use more developed programs for connecting with their students. Every student will continue to have access to simplified PDF documents on the district web site through Mountie Learning Moments.

ACCESSING ACTIVITIES
All REVIEW and ENRICHMENT activities will be posted to the Mountie Learning Moments web site at www.swasd.org. Look for the pop-up window or follow the channel Mountie Learning Moments at the top of the web site. These activities are designed by your child’s teachers for them.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR DIVERSE LEARNERS
Special consideration is given to students with specific learning needs including IEP, GIEP, and English Language Learners. If you have a child with specialized learning needs, you will be contacted by their teacher for more detailed directions or specific activities if appropriate.

STRUCTURE AT HOME
It will be extremely important to establish structure and routine in the upcoming weeks. Structure will contribute toward attaining a routine and normalcy for your child. It will be important to establish that structure as soon as possible. Some guidelines that we recommend include:
• Identify a space that could become the study space.
• Develop a schedule for school work (e.g., 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). This structure will begin to form a routine.
• Eliminate other distractions, such as cell phones and television, from the environment.
• Ensure some “brain breaks” and exercise opportunities within the work times. The balance of mind and body will be especially important given the stress and anxiety of this global pandemic. Reinforce the importance of consistency in sleep patterns. We want to avoid “summer mode”.

BUILDING CONTACTS
If you have questions, please reach out to your child’s teacher or their school counselor through email. School counselors are also available by phone through the school building main number and the counselor’s extension. All South Williamsport Area School District teachers and staff are available via email during the school day. Please remind your student to check their email daily for updates and announcements.

KEEP LOOKING – KEEP LEARNING
Although there is considerable uncertainty around us, your child’s learning is priority. The entire district staff is eager to work with you in this new environment for learning. Together we will make this work. We will KEEP LOOKING and KEEP LEARNING. Our future with COVID-19 will be different and so too will our learning environment.