March 24, 2020
I have been meeting virtually with the ARIN Intermediate Unit (IU) and Armstrong and Indiana County superintendents to discuss the mandatory school closure on a daily basis. Governor Wolf and the Department of Education (PDE) announced today that all schools in the Commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to the press release and under the new timeline, “school buildings would reopen on April 7 for two days to allow school administrators, teachers, and other staff time to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return to school on April 9, unless extending the closure is needed in response to the situation with the virus at that time. To assist schools during the extended closure, the state’s 29 intermediate units are ready to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24.”
The administration has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon with several IU’s to learn more about the Commonwealth’s plans for continuity of education expectations. We will have a majority of our administrators involved in the training to seek additional clarity regarding our options for educational programming.
The Indiana Area School District will modify our school calendar to make the previously scheduled snow-days of April 9, 13 and May 22 instructional days with students in session. Over the past several days, many surveys were completed by parents and students. Based on the survey results, we determined distance learning is a possibility for our students, yet one that may come with some challenges. Our goal is to minimize as many of those as possible for our students and their families, as well as to move our students forward in their learning. With that being said, Indiana Area School District will use distance learning for grades PreK through 12. The distance learning may include online instruction and/or learning packets for students who do not have internet or computer access at home.
Daily, teacher-led review and enrichment activities will begin on April 2, 2020, but until then, parents are encouraged to review the online resources on our District website to keep students engaged in learning. Details for teacher-supported activities will be clearly spelled out by the District and communicated to all families closer to the start of the remote learning day. Please understand that we recognize that this format is not ideal. Our goal is to maintain the learning our students have acquired over the past three terms of instruction to minimize the impact of the school closure. Our administrators, teachers, counselors, support staff, and maintenance workers would much rather see our students every day as we miss them terribly.
Although the hope is to have our students back in our buildings in front of our teachers on April 9th, we are not confident that will occur when examining the data regarding the pandemic. As a result, we are working on several contingency plans for the remainder of the school year, which include:
- A more extensive closure
- A full school year closure (several states have already closed for the year)
To be fully transparent, there will be bumps in the road at the beginning of this process. As educators, we appreciate your patience and encourage feedback as we implement this temporary learning experience. I will personally continue to monitor the situation and update you immediately with any changes that may follow. If you have any immediate concerns or questions, please contact your building principal.
Mr. Michael J. Vuckovich
Superintendent of Schools