March 20, 2020
Dear T/E Families,
On Wednesday, we began our distance learning program for all students in grades K-12. Through the collective effort of our staff, students and parents, we saw a student participation rate of over 95% in our distance learning activities. Our goal has been to provide our students with a daily routine while maintaining engagement in learning.
These unusual circumstances prompt many questions related to schools. Will Governor Wolf extend school closures? How will this impact student work, grades, and credits for the rest of the year? If we return, will large group events, school trips, and sports and activities resume? Will our distance learning program change at all in the case of extended closure?
The hardest part about answering these questions with specificity is that our answers may change depending upon state and federal decisions. We are assessing our capacity to build upon our current foundation of distance learning. Please help reassure students that we are mindful of these questions and the stress that may surround them, and as we gain more clarity, we will continue to provide direction. Our regularly scheduled spring break will take place as planned, with no school programming planned for that time.
The PA Department of Education has announced that all PSSA and Keystone Exams have been canceled for the school year. The Conestoga High School administrative team is monitoring other standardized tests. Up to date information can be found on the College Board and ACT websites.
I would like to once again thank our staff for their adaptability and commitment, and for the many parents who have recognized their efforts. Here are just a few ways we have come together as a school community, which are above and beyond private outreach and support from groups such as T&E Care:
- 2,266 meals have been delivered to students who are part of the Free and Reduced Price meal program
- Over 175 families have offered generous contributions to support other families in need, which is a testament to the strength and character of our T/E community
- Over 20 families have been provided with devices for students in need to use for distance learning activities
- The Family Help Desk provided assistance with distance learning and has answered over 450 family and staff inquiries
With spring weather approaching, we understand it is tempting to have playdates, outdoor gatherings and casual social contact with friends. Currently, many health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to urge social distancing as an intervention to slow the spread of COVID-19. Toward this end, T/E School District has closed all school playgrounds, athletic fields and other facilities to the public. The CDC has asked schools to advise families against permitting gatherings of children that could undermine the preventative effect of school closures.
We understand this may be a stressful time for families. Many people are adjusting to a new normal that involves supporting students at home while trying to balance ever-changing work and family obligations. My two college students have rejoined our family, and my high school student is home all day. Our family has made similar adjustments to remote work and distance learning at the college and high school level. These adjustments have certainly been difficult and extraordinary, if not surreal.
Maintaining self-care is a critical component. The CDC and other authorities have identified different strategies: taking breaks from the news and social media, taking care of your body through movement, deep breathing, and getting outside if you can. Connect with others while maintaining social distance protocols. As part of our community effort, our mental health specialists and others have recommended sharing resources for children and families. These resources are available on the COVID-19 section of the T/E School District website.
Parents and students, thank you for remaining engaged with your schools this past week. Your words of encouragement to our staff have been incredibly meaningful. I will provide further communication early next week.
Dr. Richard Gusick
Superintendent of Schools