NEW BETHLEHEM – As the quarantine and social distancing mandates continue to make face-to-face classroom instruction less likely for the remainder of this school year, some districts are looking to online resources to mitigate the situation.
To that end, the Redbank Valley School District released its Continuity of Education Plan this past Thursday, which details the district’s approach to remote education for students in grades K-12.
“The focus of the district still remains on the safety, health and well-being of our students, staff and community members,” said district superintendent Dr. John Mastillo on Tuesday. “This an unprecedented time not only for Redbank Valley, but our state and nation.”
According to district officials, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has been working with school districts to maintain “an appropriate and accessible” level of education for all students.
“The impact of COVID-19 appears to be a day-by-day situation that is dependent on decisions being made at a state level,” Mastillo said, noting that state-level decisions will ultimately impact how the district will proceed. “District leaders across the state are seeking answers and clarity from the Pennsylvania Department of Education on what the remainder of the 19-20 school year will look like for students and staff.”
Redbank’s plan will include a combination of enrichment review and planned instruction.
“The staff of Redbank Valley has been diligently working toward the capability to provide a continuity of education plan that will maintain learning for our students,” the district’s Continuity of Education Plan states.
As outlined in the plan, enrichment review began on Monday, March 30 and is designed to reinforce rather than introduce new skills. Activities have been loaded by district teachers and will now be available on the Google Classrooms platform.
“This enrichment/review period will allow for students and staff to become familiar with the process of non-traditional learning,” the plan states, noting that the enrichment period — which will continue through April 3 — will also give the district time to be sure that all students can access the required materials.
Planned instruction will begin Monday, April 6, according to the plan, and include a combination of posted material — from sites such as Study Island, Discovery Learning and related textbooks —as well as real-time instruction.
“Planned instruction is formal teaching and learning similar to that which occurs in the classroom setting,” the plan states. “Within this process, teachers use planned courses of instruction of new concepts and skills aligned to grade-level standards.”
“Teaching staff will be responsible for monitoring student work, providing feedback and direction, and adding learning experiences as needed,” it continues, adding that students will be graded on all assignments.
District officials noted that students requiring individualized education plans will receive “learning packets” for their individual needs.
“Special education, gifted support teachers and related service providers such as SLPs, OTs and PTs will work with core content teachers to modify, accommodate and enrich lessons to meet the needs of students’ IEPs/GIEPs, and ensure that lessons are appropriate based on the documented student need,” the Continuity Education Plan notes.
It adds that school counselors and psychologists, as well as the school nurse will touch base with students as needed to provide support and answer questions.
“The continuity of education is much more than providing educational opportunities to our students,” Mastillo said. “It is important to maintain a connectedness for students and staff. These can be stressful and emotional times for everyone.”
Students who do not have Internet access can receive hardcopies of available resources by contacting the appropriate school office.
“District leadership will continue to work with the most up-to-date information to formulate short-term and long-term goals,” Mastillo added. “The district will continue to provide grab-and-go meals as long as we are permitted or we return to school. Staff will work through Google Classrooms to remain connected to our students, providing a level of engagement considering the circumstances.”
For more information on the Continuity of Education Plan and links to Google Classrooms, visit the district’s website, www.redbankvalley.net.
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