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Silva details district’s post-COVID recovery plan

At the April 12 curriculum committee meeting, BASD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jack Silva explained the “Built by Bethlehem” roadmap – the district’s academic, organizational, community/culture, and student services values and goals – and unveiled the recovery plan for students’ academic skills and social and emotional learning.

Silva detailed the district’s strengths, as well as opportunities for improvement, within the four aforementioned domains. He noted the importance of strong core instruction to keep students from falling behind, combined with scaffolding to support students through challenges, to avoid having to play catch-up with remediation efforts. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy said the roadmap differs from earlier versions in that it focuses on principles, rather than specific tools or programs such as StudySync or Leader in Me.

Silva said the recovery plan contains items to “put out immediate fires” and efforts to position the district for longer-term academic success. The plan begins with summer school at elementary and middle schools in July, and includes special education programming, high school credit recovery, and “ramp-up” sessions. “Fun and free at BASD” options will be offered at all neighborhood schools in the district in July.

All recovery plan items will be funded by federal or state grants, as discussed at earlier school board meetings. The district plans to maintain six (100 percent virtual) eClassrooms for elementary schools next year, as well as adding coaching and school-day tutoring.

Board president Mike Faccinetto noted the ambitiousness of the plan for the summer, but Silva responded that between long-term substitutes and contracted services, he is confident that the plan can be executed. Roy said many of the activities will involve an expansion of participation in services the district has already provided during other summers.

Board member Shannon Patrick asked whether students at risk of being retained could be required to attend the summer programming in order to avoid retention. Roy responded that principals will be working with families on a student-by-student basis. Although BASD does not typically consider retention a tool that leads to student success, Roy said, the type and amount of learning loss some students have experienced may make repeating the year a productive option, with summer programming as an additional support.

Board members also reviewed the schedule for the end of the current school year, including a “socially-distant prom” May 14 and make-up work days June 10 and 11. At the April 26 meeting, the board will vote on agreements with PBS39 and United Way to share individually-identifiable academic, behavioral, and attendance information pertaining to Fountain Hill ES students as part of the Lehigh Valley Reads project, as well as a contract to purchase the StudySync English Language Arts curriculum from McGraw-Hill for grades 9 through 12 for roughly $340,000. Full details of all proposals are on the district’s website (https://go.boarddocs.com/pa/beth/Board.nsf/Public).