March 26, 2020
Dear Parents/Guardians and Students of the Bald Eagle Area School District:
Earlier this week, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed until Monday, April 6 with school resuming for students on Thursday, April 9. Of course, no one can be certain that school will resume on that date due to the spread of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
I would like to provide an update to you on a variety of items related to the current school closure:
Continuity of Education: Gov. Wolf has signed legislation which includes a variety of orders and details related to the 2019-2020 school year. Included in this law is a requirement for school districts to establish a “continuity of education” plan. Next week, you will receive written and/or electronic communication from building principals and/or teachers about the learning expectations for your child(ren). Please understand that these educational plans and learning experiences cannot replace face-to-face instruction. However, teachers are genuinely enthusiastic about connecting with students in an alternative way in order to engage them in learning.
Online Education and Free and Appropriate Public Education: Last week we initiated a phone survey to determine how many families in the District cannot connect to the internet. Results to date indicate that at least 20-25% of students either are not able to connect online or have limited access. We have been advised that unless all students are able to participate in online opportunities, they cannot be mandated. We are seeking further counsel on this. So, at the present time, work that students engage in during this time is optional and non-graded. Nonetheless, we believe that students “doing nothing” academically during this time is not an option. It is important that all students become involved in educational activity including reading, writing, problem-solving, and much more.
Teacher Preparation: On March 25, teachers began professional development activities related to remote learning. This includes training in Google Classroom, Zoom, and the creation of both online and hard-copy learning activities for students.
Graduation: The school closing has been difficult for all students and families. In particular, I have a special concern for high school seniors. The law, passed yesterday, indicates that instructional days do not need to be made up for the current school year. Based on all available information, it would be our intent for graduation to take place as currently scheduled. I fully understand that many of our seniors have obligations to the military, post-secondary education, as well as the workforce. So, for these reasons, the District will do its level best not to interfere with these important plans. Of course, this should provide motivation for all seniors to participate fully and enthusiastically in the Continuity of Education plans that teachers provide.
Special Education: IEP teams are not required to meet in person while schools are closed. If an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student's parent or legal guardian consents. These same principles apply to similar activities conducted by appropriate personnel for a student with a disability who has a plan developed under Section 504, or who is being evaluated under Section 504. If you have any questions, please reach out to Melissa Butterworth at (814)355-5731 or Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Assessments: The PSSAs and Keystone Exams will not be administered this year. Additionally, students enrolled in Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI) or those taking any other course requiring an industry-certification examination (e.g. NOCTI) will not be administered.
School Athletics and Activities: All school athletics and other activities are postponed. Should school resume next month, these activities will be rescheduled. It is important to note that it will not be possible to make up some or many of the previously scheduled activities and events due to the shortened school calendar.
Meals: We continue to provide free meals, Monday through Friday, for eligible students up to the age of 18. Meals are distributed on a first come-first serve basis. We are currently serving approximately 250 students each day at the following locations:
- Milesburg Fire Hall: 12:00 Noon - 1:00 PM
- Wingate Elementary: 12:00 Noon -1:00 PM
- Port Matilda Elementary: 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
- Howard Elementary: 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
- Pine Glen Fire Hall: 12:00 Noon - 1:00 PM
- Snow Shoe EMS: 12:00 Noon - 1:00 PM
Be Safe and Healthy: The CDC is offering valuable resources related to what you need to know about COVID-19. Please visit their website to learn about how it spreads, prevention and treatment, what do if you are sick, symptoms, stigma and COVID-19, and frequently asked questions. For tips about talking with children, please read this article from the National Association of School Psychologists entitled, "Talking to Children about COVID-19 Coronavirus: A Parent Resource."
Also, if you have any specific concerns about your child’s health and well-being, feel free to reach out to a school counselor or school nurse by calling the primary building phone number or through email communication.
Thank You for your patience, flexibility, and understanding during these uncertain times. All of us are anxious to get back to our typical routines and return to a sense of normalcy. Stay Healthy. Stay Home. Stay Safe.
Dr. Joseph H. Clapper