March 27, 2020
Dear T/E Families,
As we wrap up the second week of our COVID-19 school closure, I would like to thank our school community members for their patience, partnership and support during this time. We are here for you. Our staff at all levels continues to work hard to provide a sense of normalcy for our students.
As of now, the school closures ordered by Governor Wolf are scheduled to end in time for our return from spring break on April 13. However, we will continue to plan for the possibility of schools being closed even longer.
After reviewing information from state authorities, I am able to announce that T/E School District’s last day of school for students will remain June 10, 2020. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has stated they will not require schools to adjust their calendars as a result of the COVID-19 school closure. June 10 will remain our last student day regardless of when or whether schools reopen, subject only to change by redirection from state or federal authorities.
T/E’s spring break will be held as scheduled from April 6-10. There will be no instruction during this time. These past two weeks have been stressful for everyone. We encourage students and families to enjoy the break and this time together.
As previously shared, we have scheduled a professional staff inservice day on Wednesday, April 1. There will be no instruction for students on this day as teachers use this time to become familiar with new tools and strategies to enhance their distance learning instruction.
Additionally, we have learned that primary election day in Pennsylvania has been rescheduled from April 28 to June 2. Accordingly, April 28 will be changed to an instructional day for students, and June 2 will become an inservice day to accommodate the new primary date. Graduation is now scheduled for June 3.
Next Phase of Distance Learning
We are preparing modifications to our distance learning program in case schools remain closed after spring break. The fourth marking period will begin on April 13 with the addition of selected graded assignments for secondary students, with flexibility as needed depending on family and personal circumstances.
At the secondary level, we have been using the learning management system Schoology for several years as a place to host online subject materials in a secure environment. Access to Schoology will be extended to the elementary level after the April 1 inservice day. As part of this transition, elementary daily assignments will no longer be posted on the school websites and will be accessible through Schoology. Elementary families will receive specific instructions on how to access Schoology in the coming days.
Additional details about further enhancements to the distance learning program will be shared by your child’s school principal next week.
Please know that we have received a range of comments from families regarding the distance learning platform. While most are finding the assignments to be manageable, some families are reporting that the expectations are too challenging, and others are asking for more rigor and a faster pace. This may be related to factors such as the age of the child, how many children are in a family, and how much support each individual student needs. These variables are mixed with the differing demands on parents, guardians and teachers who are working from home and who are all adjusting to this virtual learning environment. We hope that the learning plan we share with you next week effectively addresses a variety of these needs.
We understand supporting student learning at home can be stressful as parents are coping with new work environments and other family responsibilities, all while being socially isolated from their typical support system. The stress compounds against the backdrop of a global pandemic, where we may fear for our own health or that of our loved ones.
I, too, find myself practicing unfamiliar tools, and making many mistakes without a time-tested roadmap to provide guidance. Although we are in the same house, my wife, children, and I are still learning how to spend quality time with each other as we manage the demands of work and my kids’ own online learning programs.
We want to emphasize self-care and regular check-ins with your children. If at any time your child expresses elevated academic or emotional needs, we welcome you to email your child’s counselor. We also have mental health and other related resources available on our website.
We realize that varying degrees of comfort with online learning platforms and technology may call for individualized technical support related to distance learning. Please email FamilyHelpDesk@tesd.net if you need technical support. We have staff available to assist you.
Our community continues to come together to support one another during this time of crisis. T/E’s Food Services Department is preparing to distribute over 2,000 more meals next week to students in need. We receive ongoing generous donations from parents and community members who want to help their neighbors. Should you wish to provide financial assistance to families in the T/E community who may be experiencing food scarcity or other needs right now, please email Dr. Oscar Torres or Mrs. Jeanne Braun. Additionally, if your family is in need of any food, school supplies, or other financial assistance, please contact your child’s school counselor or Dr. Oscar Torres.
Once again, I thank you for your continued messages of support to our entire staff. We are fortunate to have such a professional and passionate group of people working in partnership with you to support T/E students. Best wishes for a more relaxing weekend.
Dr. Richard Gusick
Superintendent of Schools