The Smethport Area School District has entered Phase III, sharing plans for students to continue their education from home starting the week of April 6.
Smethport Superintendent David London posted a letter to social media. Dated April 1, 2020, the letter stated, “We have received guidance for our educational plan from the PA Dept. of Education and the US Dept. of Education. The SASD is no longer held to the 180-day requirement for students so our school year for students will end on June 5, 2020. This date is a firm date and will not change.”
London’s message noted that this will be the date for Smethport’s graduation as well, although, “The pandemic situation will dictate our ability to have traditional academic ceremonies for awards and graduation. We all remain hopeful that the pandemic situation improves.”
London described Phase III of Smethport’s education plan for elementary students, noting they will participate in “review and enrichment” activities, led by the teachers for each grade level. London noted that resources are available on the website and activities were also mailed to all elementary students. The elementary teachers will offer instruction in two-week cycles, beginning with ELA and followed by math for two weeks and then two weeks of specific review and enrichment. The cycles will continue through June 5.
London explained that grades will be issued as pass/fail but “will not factor into official academic performance.”
He also outlined planned instruction for the high school students, which is laid out in detail in a letter from Smethport High Principal Brice Benson.
Benson’s letter notified parents that throughout the week of April 1-6, students will be contacted through various means (Google classroom, email or phone call) so teachers can ascertain that students have access to necessary materials. Parents who have not heard from their student’s teacher by April 6 are asked to contact the high school office at 887-5545.
Once everyone is properly prepared, students in grades 7-12 will “participate in planned instruction and continuing education in the core subject areas of English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies,” per Benson’s letter.
All assessed student work during the school closure will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Students are to communicate via email on a weekly basis, participate in class activities and complete assignments as directed.
The pass/fail grading in the four core subjects will “impact a student’s retention for grades 7 and 8 and potential failure to achieve credit in a course for students in grades 9-12,” Benson’s letter stated.
The schedule will be as follows:
Monday and Wednesday — English Language Arts in the morning and social studies in the afternoon
Tuesday and Thursday — mathematics in the morning and science in the afternoon
Friday — enrichment and review activities for other courses and “office hours” via telephone with teachers in regard to these activities.
A letter from Elementary Principal Kristin Zona expressed gratitude to all those who have essential jobs and notes that district officials and staff “are truly hoping that everyone is well. Certainly, we miss seeing our students’ smiling faces every day!”
Zona outlined the methods teachers will be using to contact parents (phone, email and classroom apps such as Class Dojo or Remind) and discussed online resources while noting that not everyone in the district has that online access.
“We want to support our families during this unusual time without overwhelming them with requirements. Therefore, we will be in the enrichment and review mode throughout the rest of the closure,” Zona wrote.
She explained that learning resources will be updated through the website for at-home learning bi-weekly, focusing on ELA and math on a rotating basis.
“Students are encouraged to participate in phone calls and activities throughout the closure. Their participation will be analyzed for feedback and planning purposes,” Zona said.
London’s letter noted that the Special Education and learning support teachers and aides will be working to deliver services and support to all of the special needs students, and the English Language learner program will continue instruction as well.
“We know that our extraordinary effort to bring an educational program into your homes will meet many challenges in regard to technology, communication, time management, resources, educational materials/packets and the pandemic situation,” London wrote. “Our educational leaders have plans to address those areas.”
London shared the elementary school number, 887-5012, ext. 3300, and the high school number, 887-5545, ext. 2200, for parents who need to communicate their needs, explaining that “One by one we will work to remove any barriers to participating and succeeding in this program.”
The full contents of the three letters can be read on the district’s Facebook page.
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