It's hard to believe we are approaching July 4, which many consider to be the midpoint of summer, when we haven't yet been able to close out activities for our Class of 2020. I sincerely appreciate all the work our staff continues to do in these challenging times, along with the extreme patience extended to us by our families and students. I am hopeful our July 9 Senior Celebration and July 17 Commencement will provide closure and much-deserved recognition for our students who will be moving on to begin their life's work.
In consideration of our younger students, our District continues to plan actively for three (3) possible scenarios to begin the new school year on Tuesday, August 25, 2020:
- All K-12 students and all staff report onsite all days, Monday-Friday, with student travel limited in the hallways, and meals delivered to classrooms.
- A designated K-12 Student Team A reports to school on Mondays and Tuesdays only, while a designated K-12 Student Team B reports to school on Thursdays and Fridays only, and until further notice. Student travel would be limited in the hallways, and meals would be delivered to classrooms. With this model, Wednesdays would include extensive cleaning of classrooms and shared spaces.
- Continued (but greatly enhanced) remote learning would be facilitated by instructional staff all days, Monday-Friday.
While I believe most prefer a return to a more normal school routine (#1 above) due to familiarity and convenience, we must remain mindful of ever-changing updates and potential new restrictions; therefore, we ask all Penn Hills School District families and staff to prepare for all possible scenarios listed above. The District is committed to announcing a final decision no later than August 5, 2020, and we remind Everyone that changes in mandates and updated restrictions will have to be considered after August 5, if applicable. We also ask families and staff to consider that there may be adjustments once the school year starts on August 25, and we may be forced to shift multiple times during the 20/21 school year. If changes after August 25 become necessary, we will remain as flexible and "family friendly" as we can.
We also continue to review family responses to our survey that was released late May. Due to an increased interest in full-time cyber learning among many PHSD families, our CHIEFS Academy Coordinator is working closely with other District staff to process new enrollments in our K-12 local cyber academy. We encourage our Penn Hills families who have any anxieties about students returning to an onsite learning format to consider converting your District enrollment to our CHIEFS Academy. Our CHIEFS Academy has been offering online learning according to a best practice model since 2015 and includes many high school courses which have achieved NCAA Clearinghouse approval. Such approval is very difficult to secure in an online learning format. New CHIEFS Academy enrollments may be arranged through our Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment: (412)793-7000, ext 1280 or email@example.com.
As also referenced in our recent family survey, we are exploring families' comfort level with transportation and are extending consideration of various options. Enhanced opportunities may include the option of a PAT CONNECT Card that includes 24/7 riding privileges in lieu of traditional bussing for older students who are traveling to/from schools located outside our Penn Hills borders. Older students who attend school within the District borders may also be considered for this option, if they choose. Please, contact Colleen Szymansky at (412)793-7000, ext 1244 or firstname.lastname@example.org if your Penn Hills HS student would like to be considered for this potential option to start next school year.
As always, we welcome your feedback and sincerely wish Everyone a safe and relaxing summer break. Please, take care.