It’s a Whole New Ballgame
Dr. Jerry Shoemake – Superintendent
I’m sitting here in my office in an almost deserted building. We sent everyone but the most essential employees home for their safety. We are left with a skeleton crew of myself, the principals, our tech guy, a secretary at each building, and the food service staff who are putting together meals. This has been a crazy week for everyone. We were told by the Pennsylvania Department of Education on March 13th that all schools were closing and we should prepare a plan to continue education for all of our students during the shut-down. This Monday and Tuesday we were able to hand out over 200 Chromebooks to allow students without access to computers to have a device to let them get on and do school work. Comcast has offered 2 free months of cable, which should help many who don’t have access to the internet. We are asking any parents of students who still do not have access to a computer or internet to call us and make us aware of your needs. Our plan is to provide packets of work to students who are not able to access the internet. In addition, students will be able to get their speech therapy through the use of Zoom, which is a very easy tool we have found to be invaluable. Also any other related services such as occupational or physical therapy as well as vision and hearing therapy will also be provided online. Those providers will contact parents directly to set up appointments for those therapies.
We set a huge task for our teachers, and they responded beautifully. In a matter of two days, we were ready to roll out our continuing education plan. Our teachers worked tirelessly putting together a plan for educating all students online, and we were able to begin implementing that plan on Wednesday. Please bear in mind that we have never attempted this before, so there are bound to be some glitches. Please contact us if you are not able to access online work for any reason. This work is mandatory. Teachers have been told to provide to the office names of students who have not logged on, and we will be contacting those families to determine how we can help.
We don’t know what the future holds. Currently the Governor has set April 8th as the day schools will open again, but that is dependent upon the spread of the Corona Virus. We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. We will continue to pass out free breakfasts and lunches at all locations until further notice. We have dedicated food service employees who are willing to work in spite of the danger to themselves to help feed our families. . Please check our Facebook page for distribution days. We are prepared to continue to be closed until the end of the year if that is what the government decides. I certainly hope that is not the case. I would like to see prom and graduation take place for our seniors. We have been in touch with the Raystown Resort and are looking at alternative dates.
I want to take a moment to thank all of our hard working staff for their efforts in this extraordinary time. Our teachers and secretaries did the almost impossible, our cleaners and custodians have disinfected every surface in all buildings, and our food service staff has gone above and beyond. While the pandemic has pushed us all to situation that is not ideal, by having patience and working through issues, we can get through whatever the remainder of this year throws at us. Currently, our plan is to have our last student day on June 4th. By beginning our online program Wednesday, we will be able to get our full 180 days in whether we come back or not. Please keep safe and take care of one another.