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CASD students begin online instruction

Continuing his efforts to protect the health and safety of students and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced April 9 all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

Wolf made the decision in consultation with Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera.

Teachers and administration in the Catasauqua Area School District have been working to prepare for long-term virtual learning.

Full-time online instruction began April 14.

According to Catasauqua Middle School Principal Melissa Inselmann, they will post the lessons on Google Classroom by 9 a.m. Mondays and the assignments will be due Fridays.

The district will also continue to provide meals for all CASD residents up to the age of 18. Proof of residency is required.

The Grab N Go meals are distributed once or twice a week in front of Sheckler Elementary School. The latest distribution was April 14.

The schedule and days available are subject to change and will be posted every Sunday on the CASD website, as well as the district and schools’ Facebook pages.

Walk-ups will be accommodated. District personnel request participants arrive with a clean vehicle trunk.

If you are homebound, contact c3p@cattysd.org or call 610-264-5571 and leave a phone number and/or email address.

Pennsylvania Department of Education has secured resources intended to help all schools that want to use them - including those not currently offering online platforms, those requiring additional technology support and those that may rely on traditional methods, such as paper lessons, to continue educating students. There is no cost to schools or students for these resources.

“We must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus during this national crisis,” Wolf said. “This was not an easy decision, but closing schools until the end of the academic year is in the best interest of our students, school employees and families.”

Rivera said the administration’s primary consideration has always been to make the best decision in the context of student and community health and safety.

“While the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and its mitigation efforts have created uncertainty in our schools and communities, today’s action to close schools for the remainder of the academic year provides school communities with predictability and understanding of the conditions under which they’ll be operating and serving students,” Rivera said. “As schools and communities adapt to the prolonged school closure, PDE will continue to work with our state, educational, business and nonprofit partners to meet the needs of students.”

This decision applies to all public K-12 schools, brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers and intermediate units. All PDE early learning program classrooms, including those for Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program and Preschool Early Intervention, will also remain closed.

Colleges and universities may not resume in-person instruction or reopen their physical locations until the governor permits them to open or lifts the closure of non-life-sustaining businesses.

Under the state’s directive, schools could begin summer programming the day after the academic year ends.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association reported it supports and appreciates Wolf’s decision to extend the closure of school buildings for the remainder of the current academic year.

“School districts have put forth outstanding efforts in providing students with as optimal a learning experience as possible, in the current circumstances and utilizing the resources available,” said Nathan G. Mains, PSBA CEO. “Numerous challenges of technology and connectivity gaps have created larger issues for some districts, and in the face of it all, the resourcefulness and creativity of educators and their district leaders is apparent.”

Schools will now have the opportunity to plan for August or September when they can return to the benefits of in-person learning, Mains said.

Rivera added all school re-openings will be contingent on public health guidance provided by the secretary of health and stay-at-home orders issued by the governor.

In addition to the school closure announcement, Rivera took action that will ensure crucial stability of education programs. Under Act 13 of 2020, the secretary has exercised his executive authority to adjust requirements for the evaluation of professional employees and waive student teaching requirements that may not be possible in the context of school closures.

“By taking these actions, the department is providing flexibility in the near term, while signaling that core functions of public education can and will continue,” he said.

The department has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at education.pa.gov/COVID19.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.