April 17, 2020 School Closure Update
Dear T/E Families,
This week we completed a successful transition back from spring break and began new components of our distance learning program. I would once again like to thank all members of our school community for their contributions to our program and their commitment to serving T/E students. Our staff members continue to be encouraged by your kind words of support and positive feedback.
Distance Learning Update
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some components of our distance learning plan. In designing our program, our goal was to provide an educational experience that focused on three parts:
- New instruction through teacher-recorded videos
- Live interactions with groups of secondary students during virtual office hours to practice concepts or problems, reinforce material, hold group discussions or answer students’ questions
- Independent student work to practice and complete comprehension and application activities
This model reflects the design of many face-to-face lessons, where the teacher introduces a topic, engages the students in an extension of the content through questions, problems, or other activities, followed by a homework assignment.
By providing asynchronous new instruction in the form of a recorded video, students are able to receive the instruction at a time that works best for them and their families. Middle and high school students may then participate in live group sessions during virtual office hours. Office hours are not intended to be a one-on-one interaction between the student and the teacher. Rather, these sessions are an opportunity for teachers to meet with students in a live, face-to-face setting to further practice skills, have group discussions, participate in group activities, provide lesson clarification or answer students’ questions. Finally, as in the traditional classroom, students need independent study time to review new material and practice its application.
Elementary students who work with support teachers are already engaging in live instructional sessions with those teachers. We are piloting additional opportunities for all elementary students to have live online interaction with their classmates and teacher, with an emphasis on community building. Your child’s teacher will be sharing more information with you soon.
Our three-tiered program is similar to models successfully used by many universities and cyber schools, as it provides flexibility combined with live, instructional interactions with teachers via office hours. I expect that as the last marking period progresses, and as students and teachers become more familiar with the live platform, these office hours experiences will become increasingly meaningful learning environments. I encourage students to attend the live office hour sessions or the elementary classroom opportunities as they are able.
Please remember that we strive to meet the educational needs of all students. Should you feel your child needs additional resources or support, our staff is prepared to provide both. Please first reach out to your child’s teacher to allow the initial opportunity to address an individual concern. If you have questions about the District’s Distance Learning Plan, please contact Dr. Wendy Towle.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you know, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera ordered the closure of all public schools through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. We understand you may have questions related to how this extended closure will impact our schools. We have created a Frequently Asked Questions document to provide a quick reference for families on distance learning, support opportunities, District operations and administrative services. The FAQs will be periodically updated as we receive new guidance from state and local agencies, and as new decisions are made related to our programs and schools.
Support for Those in Need
Our school community continues to come together to support our neighbors in need.
- TESD parents, organizations and even student clubs are making donations directly to the District to help local families in need. More than $10,000 in donations and gift cards have been distributed to T/E families.
- T/E’s Food Services Department provided 5,310 meals to students in need this week.
- The District’s IT Department has answered over 1,500 Family Help Desk inquiries and Help Desk support requests from T/E students, staff and parents.
- TESD has supplied 167 iPads to students in need to use for distance learning and has provided WIFI hotspots to all families who have expressed a need.
- To date, community donations to local charity T&E Care total over $85,000
The outpouring of support by our community members to help local families is truly outstanding. Unfortunately, it appears the economic impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt by many for weeks and possibly months to come. T&E Care representatives have shared that much of their financial donations have already been used to help support local families who are experiencing food scarcity or who need assistance with rent and utilities. Almost all of the donations TESD has received have been distributed – and we still receive ongoing requests for assistance. Should you wish to provide financial assistance to families in the T/E community who need help with basic necessities, please email Dr. Oscar Torres or Mrs. Jeanne Braun. If you find your family in immediate need, please reach out to your child’s school counselor, Dr. Torres or Mrs. Braun.
In 1990, as a first-year teacher at Conestoga, I quickly observed the talent and drive of T/E students, the care, generosity and engagement of T/E families, and the dedication and passion of T/E staff. Thirty years later, these characteristics have never been more evident to me. I am grateful to be part of a community that cares for each other so deeply during difficult times. Neighbors have helped neighbors in countless ways, and the staff of TESD remains committed to District families.
Sincerely T/E Proud,
Dr. Richard Gusick
Superintendent of Schools