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Q&A Regarding COVID-19 Protocol at WSD

Please submit your questions to communications@wsdweb.org. Answers to your questions will be published here in a timely manner.

 

All Wissahickon schools and buildings are closed for the remainder of the academic year.


Governor Wolf has ordered all schools in Montgomery County to be closed for the remainder of the academic year. During this time, all school activities are cancelled and there will be no access to any district facility (except for designated emergency personnel).

All district events including meetings, parent-teacher conferences, music performances, H&SA events, athletic games/events, and community swims are cancelled.


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS


Question: Where can I find a list of cancelled events and activities?
Answer: You may view the district and school calendars to see the cancelled events and activities.

District Calendar
Blue Bell Calendar
Lower Gwynedd Calendar
Shady Grove Calendar
Stony Creek Calendar
Middle School Calendar
High School Calendar

Question: I would like an explanation as to how a 1/2-day planning session, that was scheduled for 3/13, to get the at home learning up and running, gets extended to 2 weeks, and then results in PACKETS rather than something more interactive with the teachers?
AnswerThe district planned to provide our principals, supervisors, and teachers time on the afternoon of March 13 to begin planning for the possibility of remote teaching and learning. There was never a thought that all we needed to accomplish would be completed that afternoon. Before, the opportunity to begin this planning could begin, the school closure was announced by Governor Wolf on Thursday afternoon. At that moment, schooling environments abruptly changed from a real live classroom setting to one of remote teaching and learning. Not only has this change impacted the way schools work, but it has been further complicated by the many challenges that our families are facing as a result of COVID-19 – all families, including those of our community and our staff. Since March 13, members of our administrative team have met frequently with our fellow administrators from across the Montgomery County region to share ideas and problem-solve the many difficult legal and logistical challenges the school districts are facing. During this same period, our teachers have been planning collaboratively with their district colleagues to develop learning experiences that would engage our students in skills, content, and concepts familiar to them along with some new material related to their on-going studies. At the same time, our principals and supervisors have been meeting remotely from home with their teachers and specialists to put procedures into place to assure consistency in practice across our district. This includes guidance with regard to the lessons themselves and the tech tools needed to deliver instruction. Students and their families will receive the plans for the upcoming two weeks. These plans include a variety of engaging learning experiences with video links and related activities that students will enjoy. On April 13, the teaching and learning will continue moving forward; this includes teaching, learning, assessment, and grading. All of this planning associated with COVID-19 has proven to be much more an any of us could have imagined back on Friday, March 13.

Question:: Why isn't our district going to use readily available tools (some at no cost) to give kids live instruction and interaction with the teacher and fellow students?
AnswerWith close to 5,000 students and 400 teachers, it is necessary for teachers to use tech tools that have been vetted by our technology department for purposes of teaching and learning. The technology team must also be able to support and troubleshoot the approved tech tools, and our instructional coaches must be able to provide the necessary professional development so that our teachers are able to use these tools effectively. While it seems quite simple to arrange for a live, synchronous teaching lesson, it is just not so easy. Any such live video conferencing lesson exposes the district to liability risks related to what students or adults (employees or otherwise) might see, say or hear, either intentionally or inadvertently, that do not exist in the traditional classroom setting that is access controlled. For these reasons, the teachers will continue to use asynchronous instructional tools to advance learning for our students. The use of these tools also allows students to engage in learning at times convenient for them and their families. As we continue to navigate this new teaching and learning environment, synchronous tools may become a part of our instructional delivery as well. Before that happens, however, we have to address some of the challenges detailed above.

Question: Are there any discussions on cancelling spring break to make up the days missed?
Answer: No, the state-ordered closure MIGHT extend past 3/27/20, but right now we have not had conversation about moving or cancelling spring break.

Question: Are Parent Teacher Conferences still being held?
Answer: No. All events at all schools are cancelled while schools are closed.

Question:  Do you have any information regarding March 14 SAT testing in Montgomery County?
Answer:The College Board is posting updates about SAT cancellations, etc. on this webpage: https://pages.collegeboard.org/natural-disasters. Students affected by test center closings will also be notified by email. 

Question: Will the district continue to provide status updates in terms of any students or staff members who may test positive and which building they are from?
Answer: Yes, to the extent that such information continues to be shared with us by local health authorities. It is quite possible that their offices are so inundated that they won’t make that a priority (now that we are all closed anyway).  But we will most certainly relay any and all information received.

Question: Will marking period 3 be extended, or will it end when it is scheduled initially?
AnswerUntil we know the extent of the school closure, we are not in a position to make any adjustments to the marking period windows. This is a highly unusual situation and will require many considerations before any modifications are made.

Question: Will plans be to do parent teacher conferences virtually?
AnswerOur upcoming parent/guardian and teacher conferences will not be conducted virtually. The upcoming conference schedule has been cancelled, and we will communicate to our parents/guardians if and when conferences will be re-scheduled. In the meantime, parents/guardians are always welcome to contact their child’s teacher to discuss student progress and or any concerns.

Question: Students have work that is currently ongoing, assigned and due next week.  Will those deadlines be held to?  Will they be due at the end of the closure?  Will they be pushed back or eliminated completely? Question: Do students have to turn in work that was given out before school was canceled? Question: My daughter has an assignment that is due tomorrow for French class that was assigned Monday (she was absent). There is no place to turn it in on Schoology, so should she turn it in when school reopens in 2 weeks? Question: Do they students have to complete work (essays and projects) that have been assigned and are due within the next 2 weeks, as planned, or are those assignments going to be pushed back? 
Answer to all Related Assignment QuestionsAssignments due during this school closure of 3/13 to 3/27 will not be due to teachers until Tuesday, March 31, at the earliest. That is assuming that we are back in school on Monday, March 30.  Teachers will communicate with their students revised due dates for those assignments previously due during this closure period.

Question: On the behalf of the students, is it more than likely that students won’t be given work over the stoppage of school due to the Virus? So, for the March 13-27 there will be no online work unless the time is extended?
AnswerThat is correct. There will be no online work during this school closure period. Teachers did not have the opportunity to develop learning tasks for students to complete at home, tasks that are more of a review nature. Those are being planned during this school closure period, and they should be ready for the week of March 30 in the event that this school closure continues.

Question: My understanding from teachers in other districts is that they are currently working on virtual lesson plans. They were shocked that my kids will not have any assignments for the entire two weeks. Seems that the middle and High schools at least should be able to have some plans in place by late next week or at least the following Monday. Why so quick to say no virtual learning? 
AnswerWe had planned to use the afternoon of Friday, March 13 (today) to develop our “At Home Learning Plan” for students K-12. This was designed to be a collaborative planning session for our grade level teams (elementary) and department level teams (secondary). Unfortunately, the announced closing of schools came more quickly than anticipated, leaving us no opportunity to plan here at school with colleagues.  Teachers are planning now for use beginning as early as March 30 should the school closure continue.

Question: Any understanding about the status of the AP tests with the cancellation of school?  
Answer:The College Board is certainly aware of the current COVID-19 crisis and the related school closings. Once we know the total number of school days missed, they will let us know how that will be handled. For now, that is all that the College Board would share. Periodic updates will be shared at the College Board’s website: www.CollegeBoard.org.

Question: Are Wissahickon SD custodial staff are being paid during the district’s closing period?
AnswerYes, all district staff are being paid. 

Question: I'm confused why it is taking 2 weeks for learning plans to be sent out to the students. I am an educator myself making virtual plans for my courses. I wish teachers will at least be able to give the high school students plans next week to get them started on work. 
AnswerThe district K-12 faculty have been given this two-week period (3/13-3/27) to develop an At Home Learning Plan which will be shared with students and families on 3/30/2020, assuming that the school closure is extended. The work in the plan will be designed to reinforce and practice previously taught skills, content, and concepts. Teachers are working collaboratively to develop these plans.   

Question: Are there any discussions around the feasibility of offering any live aspect to any of the classes at the high school level? I know there are legitimate equity and access concerns, but could there be some way for teachers to at least provide a periodic live, Zoom-based “Q&A” session where students could ask questions about content and others could benefit from hearing the teacher’s response? Perhaps a transcript/hardcopy of that live session could then be given to students who cannot access the live session?
AnswerBeginning on March 30TH, we will be sharing with students and families the first of two weeks of At Home Learning Plans. Both plans include student work that reinforces previously taught skills, content, and concepts. There can be home and school communication via e-mail with the teachers should there be questions about the contents of the teachers’ lessons in these plans. In the meantime, the district is exploring the available tools we have so that teachers would be better able to deliver new instruction. However, we will only expand our at home learning experience if we are confident that all students can access that learning as well.     

Question: Just responding to the email sent by Dr. Abbamont on 3/19/20. I am unclear as to when the children are expected to return to school. Is the tentative date still March 30th? Will we know prior to that date, so that parents can plan accordingly with their employers? Any answers would be greatly appreciated at this time.
AnswerWhile we cannot provide a definitive answer at this time, we continue to seek guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Governor’s Office. Based on the information shared in the media, it seems that the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is taking its toll with a rise in the number of cases. District leadership has every reason to believe that the close of schools will continue into the foreseeable future. Our focus right now is on how to continue student learning remotely. Of course, once we hear anything definitive on the continuing close of schools, we will share that with the families of the Wissahickon School Community.

Question:  Are there discussions about continuing the school year during the summer/after the current last day of 2019-2020 school year, if the restriction on allowing kids to return to school is lifted prior to the 2020-2021 school year? (in essence treating this present time period as if it were summer recess)?
AnswerAt this time, there are no plans to extend the school year deeper into June.  The 11 school days between March 13th and March 27th are being treated by the state as "emergency closing days" and the state will not require districts to make them up.  Employees have been working from home (and being paid) during these 11 days, so the calendar cannot be extended past June 12 (our planned last day of school) without incurring significant unbudgeted labor costs.  Starting on March 30th and going for however long Governor Wolf decides to keep the closure in place, days will be counted as official "school days," as districts put into place their virtual learning protocols with students.  Once July arrives, that begins a new fiscal year, and our normal slate of summer programs are being planned (subject of course to the closure being lifted).  There are no plans to add any "regular" school days to July or August at this time.

Question: As a parent of a student in the class of 2020, I was wondering if the school would ever consider canceling graduation or just postponing it? 
AnswerWe remain uncertain about the status of when/if school will be resumed (as of now, the closure is extended to April 13) and continue to follow guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Governor’s Office. All events, including graduation, will not be held if the schools remain closed.