As of today, I am happy to report that our CHIEFS Academy (K-12 cyber program) has "reopened' to our Penn Hills students who were enrolled prior to the mandated school closure. We have been working behind the scenes during the past two weeks to apply components of this very successful online learning model to a modified experience for our PH students who have been part of more traditional K-12 learning. To that end, Seniors were notified last week that Principal Eric Kostic would be at Linton MS today and tomorrow from 10 am-12 pm and from 3-5 pm to help our Tech Department distribute Chromebooks to members of the Class of 2020 who need them as we convert to an online learning format for Seniors this week.
As noted previously, Seniors remain a priority, and every effort is being made to match current schedules to help ensure graduation eligibility in June. *Please, keep in mind that no decisions have been made regarding Prom, Kennywood, or other annual traditions. Final decisions will be made in consultation with local- and county-level government officials as we get closer to scheduled dates. We do expect, however, that we will maintain some semblance of educational effort on Mon, April 6; Tues, April 7, and Wed, April 8 as a good-faith effort to recoup at least a portion of lost learning time. *We still hope to be able to maintain our current PHSD 19/20 Calendar and not to extend beyond Fri, June 12, if at all possible. Using three of our designated make-up days will support our case for permission not to extend our school year.
Special Education Director Brian Francis and his team are attempting to make contact with the families of K-12 students who qualify for specially designed instruction. As noted previously, Mr. Francis' team is working with families to determine the best individual strategies to support continuity of education efforts. Our intent is that this group of students will next be offered the option of borrowing available tech devices from PHSD.
From there, we hope to extend equipment loan options to other K-11 District families in need. We have been told from very reliable sources that more Chromebooks, tablets, etc may be available for loan in the near future via donations and at drastically reduced prices to facilitate mass purchasing at the district level. We anxiously await more information and will continue to keep everyone updated. Please trust that we are exploring all available options at this time to increase tech equipment reserves.
Since schools were mandated to close on March 16, every PH family should have received some form of contact from a district staff member. Our current Skyward records indicate that only 78 families (out of our 3,200+ total) have no family email registered in our system. As a back-up, we are mailing hard copies of this communication to these individual homes. Please help the cause by spreading the word, neighbor to neighbor, albeit from safe distances, that the Penn Hills School District is back up and running!
Our professional educators have been working on the conversion to online learning and also developing back-up activities for those families who need additional equipment before making the conversion to online. Our educators are also being respectful of those families who prefer traditional work packets for their children. PLEASE trust that our educators will remain flexible, and no child will be penalized academically for our current state of affairs.
You should feel free to contact individual teachers via email during their new business hours from 10 am-12 pm and from 2-4 pm (Mon-Fri). We encourage families to consider stopping by Linton's front sidewalk to pick-up grab 'n go meals that are available from 12-2 pm (Mon-Fri). Due to changing guidelines, adults are now permitted to pick-up meals on behalf of children in the home. It is likely that alternative work packets will be available in the future at our food distribution site, but we're not there yet. Please remain patient as we work out the details.
In terms of work completion, as noted, we have no intention of penalizing students who are dealing with serious challenges, including but not limited to limited or no access to technology; however, we do expect our students to complete some version of work daily (Mon-Fri). Work completion will definitely be considered as decisions are made about grade-level promotion for 20/21. Please reach out to individual principals if more specific information or support is needed:
PHHS Principal Eric Kostic: firstname.lastname@example.org
Linton MS Principal Sandra Barker: email@example.com
PHE Principal Kristin Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank EVERYONE for your ongoing support and patience as we continue to navigate these uncertain times.