November 24, 2020
To Midd-West School District Parents and Families:
I want to thank you for your support and understanding during the 2020-21 school year. We have had our share of ups and downs associated with our learning program as caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In all our decisions, we have tried to weigh the risks to the health and safety of our staff and students with the impact of changes to our instructional program.
In our on-line instructional approach, we have tried to balance live instructional opportunities with opportunities for students to receive asynchronous instruction (on their own timeline). This was designed this way for two reasons. First of all, student connectivity and district-wide bandwidth become a huge concern if we offer only live instruction for all classes. Streaming video uses a lot of data. In a TEAMS meeting that uses as many as 25 video feeds for each class, it can overwhelm our system if implemented simultaneously across every classroom. Additionally, students in some locations don’t have adequate service (even when provided hot spots) to receive streaming video, which then makes them unable to consume the content. Secondly, streaming video lessons reduce the retention of content for many students.
It’s a one size fits all approach where timely interaction and feedback becomes difficult at best. In a typical school day, students will have multiple styles and modalities of lessons which helps to stimulate creative thought and retention. Video streaming of classroom lessons remain only a video streamed lesson. Thus, appealing only to those individuals who learn effectively through that mode. It is for these reasons, we hope to provide a variety of opportunities for students and not just live streamed classes.
Upon our return from Thanksgiving Break, we hope to return to full-time, in-person instruction. We realize this is the best format! However, we will need our community’s help in order to make this happen. Our entire strategy in our Return to School Safety Plan was based on limiting our students’ exposure to COVID19 while in the school setting. By following these simple steps as you enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday, and then continuing to follow them upon our return, our district should be able to provide in-person learning starting December 1, 2020.
1) Monitor your child’s health by discussing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 at least daily. Check your child’s temperature, if possible. A fever of 100.4 or higher should be of concern.
2) If signs or symptoms are present, consider keeping your child at home and away from others. In several of the district’s positive cases, individuals mistook COVID-19 symptoms for other
illnesses such as a cold or allergies. Additionally, if you or a family member have been exposed
to a confirmed case of COVID-19, please follow quarantining and isolation recommendations.
3) Practice healthy habits of eating well, exercising, and washing hand regularly.
4) Communicate with the school district officials as to confirmed cases or close contact
designations occurring in your family.
When we return on December 1st, it will be important to follow the following components of our Return to School Safety Plan, so that we can remain open for in-person instruction.
1) Complete the parent survey each morning prior to sending your child to school. If there are multiple symptoms or a recent exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual, we ask you to keep your child home to avoid a potential spread of the disease.
2) Encourage your child’s wearing of a mask. Our students have done a tremendous job of this
through the first part of the year. This will even be more critical in our return to in-person
instruction as Snyder County is now experiencing as many confirmed cases in a week as the
county did during the first four months of the pandemic. Masks do lessen the risks of
transmissions. Upon our return, prepare your child for less frequent mask breaks until our
county numbers begin to decline.
3) Be aware of travel and testing requirements of the PA Department of Health. These have been changing rapidly throughout the year. As a public school entity, we are required to enforce all Department of Health mandates which could mean quarantining or testing individuals that
travel out of state. If in doubt about where you stand in these regards, please communicate
with your child’s school.
4) Continue to provide transportation where possible for your children. Our parents have been a blessing in this regard to begin the year, but it is crucial that we keep this in place. Prolonged
rides on busses (especially in winter weather) do not lend themselves well to social distancing
and can increase the risk for exposure. When parents can drop off or pick up their children, it
creates a safer environment for those that must ride the bus.
5) Continue to use your best judgment. Our community has been fantastic about this. We need to continue to exercise good judgment when it comes to how we get together. By maintaining
social distancing, wearing masks, and following other preventative measures, we can safely
conduct school and extra-curricular activities for our students. However, we need a concerted
effort from our entire community to make this happen.
In closing, thank you all for your patience and persistence during this 2020-21 school year. To date, we have been able to offer in-person learning and to respond with online programming when our data has indicated the need. Although, we may be facing our greatest challenges in the next two to three months, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. By working together, our students and community can continue to manage this pandemic while providing as normal an experience as possible for our students.
Thank you very much for all you do to support our learning endeavors!
Joe Stroup, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Midd-West School District