March 24, 2020
Dear T/E Families,
As we announced yesterday, Governor Wolf has extended school closings throughout Pennsylvania until at least April 6. Since T/E has spring break April 6-10, this means the earliest possible date students would return to school is April 13. Knowing that students will be at home until at least that time, we can address some questions we have received from students and families.
Third Marking Period (Middle and High School). At the secondary level, we are extending the third marking period one week to April 3. Students will have the opportunity to submit outstanding assignments or other work for a grade. As each class has particular coursework, individual teachers will communicate specific expectations with students for submitting work and closing out third quarter grades through Schoology. Should the school closures be extended further, we anticipate adding more graded assignments in the fourth marking period.
Distance Learning Program. We continue to build upon our foundation of distance learning. Our teachers have embraced distance learning with the same enthusiasm and passion they have always brought to school. To support these efforts, Wednesday, April 1 will be a professional staff inservice day. There will be no work assigned to students that day to provide time for teachers to further develop their capacity with additional distance learning tools and instructional methods.
We have heard many suggestions from community members about different platforms to use for instruction. The District has begun using Microsoft Teams internally as a collaborative online tool, and we plan to extend its use to enhance the delivery of our distance learning program. Microsoft Teams is a program similar to Zoom that provides a forum for online collaboration. You may see teachers begin to initiate audio-only instructional conversations with students through this platform. Should we move to instruction where students are on video, additional information will be provided to parents. We will work with you and progress deliberately.
The District recognizes that distance learning is a new experience for families to manage while also adjusting to a new normal that involves balancing work and family obligations. The following strategies have been suggested by members of our counseling staff:
- Establish a routine for the family, including wake times, work times, and down times.
- Engage in daily conversations about what is being assigned, what is being completed, and what is being submitted.
- Check email on a daily basis. We often send messages to parents and students this way.
- Keep current with classwork. All assignments have value, including those that are ungraded. Teachers are assigning work to keep students current with course content and, at the secondary level, to prepare for fourth marking period graded work.
- Remind students that distance learning is an extension of the classroom and subject to the same rules of respect and courtesy that we expect in school.
- Your children may need your help integrating and adjusting during this time. If your child is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to their teacher or counselor.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed some helpful tips for parents to support children learning at home during the COVID-19 school closures. These tips can be found on the CDC’s Children and Coronavirus webpage. While the CDC supports the importance of developing and maintaining a schedule for your child, flexibility and fun are equally important factors to support your child.
Support Staff. I am incredibly proud of the way our entire staff has come together to support our students and our community during this time. While TESD teachers are the most visible employees as they engage with students daily delivering the distance learning lessons, I would also like to recognize the support staff that continues to work behind the scenes. These employees have been involved in providing ongoing clerical support, fielding help desk tickets, tracking student attendance, supporting special education activities, engaging in training, securing our facilities, assisting with emergency situations, providing meals and supplies to families, sustaining essential business operations, as well as continuing to be on call for a myriad of duties that arise out of this crisis.
Once again, I thank you for your ongoing support of the T/E School District. We miss the students in our classrooms and schools and look forward to being together again.
Dr. Richard Gusick
Superintendent of Schools