Dear McKeesport Area SD Families,
I realize the last two weeks have been frustrating and confusing for all of us. Thankfully, Governor Wolf is prepared to sign Senate Bill 751, which provides the necessary legislation so that all school districts have the opportunity to function with some certainty and consistency. The highlights from SB 751 are included. Also, we have taken the opportunity during the closure to continue advocacy efforts for our children and promote the need for more technology and resources to meet the unique needs of all MASD students. We were able to utilize multiple media outlets to shed light on the lack of access and equity in public schools across the Commonwealth.
We are not certain how long the closure will continue. We will be prepared to open schools on or around April 14th, acknowledging the possibility of a longer closure. The schools will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before staff and students return. There are plans of providing our staff with a 2-hour delay or an Act 80 day. This will give all staff members the opportunity to get back into their classrooms to make preparations before students return after this long, unexpected closure. Everyone will receive more information about the return to school as the date approaches.
As we proceed, a continuity of education plan has been developed by the district leadership, which will provide consistency with classroom materials and resources for all students. Our continuity of education plan will consist of several layers. First, the (PreK-8) materials and resources will be available online and distributed on March 30th at the two
feeding sites at Twin Rivers Elementary School and Founders’ Hall Middle School from 9am- 11am Monday through Friday. Grades 9-12 will access their materials exclusively online. Those resources will be posted on the district website www.mckasd.net and social media platforms. The materials can be accessed under the coronavirus tab on the left side of the main page of the school district website. We will be providing distance learning for our students for the purpose of flexible instruction and/or enrichment and review. Although these services are not required for all students, we want you to know as a valued member of our school, we will continue to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education. The lessons were created to be utilized throughout the month of April. The lessons and materials that will be distributed will be similar to the Flexible Instructional Day assignments utilized during our one snow cancellation earlier this school year.
Week of March 30 – Assignment Set #1 Week of April 6 - Assignments Set #2 Week of April 14 – TBD
Each packet or posted assignment will have further necessary directions or information included. Teachers with students in Pre-K to 8th grade will attempt to contact each student to ensure each family can access the materials in some way. To clarify a few misconceptions, a large majority of the school districts in Allegheny County have been working together to provide a continuity plan of education that will begin on March 30th. Please refer to the list provided in this article to confirm the start dates for distance learning of the surrounding school districts https://triblive.com/local/regional/at-a-glance-distance-learning-in-your-school- district-when-classes-could-resume/.
Any student currently enrolled in an Advanced Placement course with the possibility of earning college credit through the dual enrollment program have different expectations. Those AP assignments will be graded and recorded to meet the requirements of the college board and affiliated college or university. Please contact the AP teacher for further details. AP students will only need to focus on the AP assignments and assessments. Our Seniors will become a priority during this unprecedented time. All seniors will be required to complete some form of their senior project. Please stay tuned for further guidance.
We are not anticipating extending the 2019-2020 school year beyond the current graduation date of June 3rd due to several factors, which include planned summer construction in several schools and a lack of air conditioning in our high school. Our school board of directors will make the final decision on the school calendar.
There will continue to be many unanswered questions and unknowns that the school district leadership hopes to get guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Governor’s office as the school closure continues. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to the building principal via email.
Twin Rivers Elementary: firstname.lastname@example.org
Francis McClure Elementary: email@example.com
Founder’s Hall Middle School: firstname.lastname@example.org
McKeesport Area HS: email@example.com
Pre-K Counts/Online Learning: firstname.lastname@example.org
East End Academy: email@example.com
Lastly, all students with Individual Education Plans will receive a letter from the Special Education department explaining processes for receiving services during this closure as well as details about the Extended School Year Program (ESY).
Thank you for your continued patience and support during these challenging times!
Dr. Mark P. Holtzman
McKeesport Area School District
Senate Bill 751 Highlights
Educator evaluation/emergency School Code amendments: SB 751, passed by both the House and the Senate yesterday, awaits the Governor’s signature. The bill, whose original subject matter was educator evaluation reform, was amended to include various provisions relating to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on schools.
Pandemic emergency provisions: The bill would add Section 1501.8 to the School Code, relating to the Pandemic of 2020, which would be in effect for the 2019-2020 school year only. This section would:
- Immediately waive the statutory requirement of 180 instructional
- Permit the Secretary of Education to:
- Order the closure of all school entities until the threat to health and safety caused by the epidemic
- Increase the number of flexible instructional days that school entities may institute and waive the application deadline for
- Waive the requirement to include performance data in a professional employee’s performance rating.
- Waive the minimum total number of hours required by regulation for career and technical education
- Waive the NIMS assessment and the NOCTI
- Waive the 12-week student teacher requirement for educator preparation
- Provide that no employee of a school entity employed as of March 13, 2020, would receive more or less compensation or PSERS pension credit than he or she would have received in the absence of the pandemic and school
- Require school entities to provide employees responsible for cleaning facilities as a result of or during the pandemic threat with cleaning products and protective clothing and gear as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and
- Require each school entity to provide the parents of students who have IEPs with notice regarding its plans to ensure that such students receive FAPE as required by
- Require each school entity to make a good-faith effort to plan to offer continuity of education during the period of school closure, with guidance from PDE and assistance from intermediate units. Each school entity would be required to submit its continuity-of- education plan to PDE and post it on the school entity’s
- Provide that a school entity may not receive “less subsidy payments, reimbursements, allocations, tuition or other payments” from PDE or another school entity than the receiving entity would have been entitled to had the pandemic not occurred. Charter and cyber charter schools would receive payment based on enrollment as of March 13, 2020.
- Require the Secretary to seek a waiver of ESSA testing and accountability requirements from
- Permit school entities to seek waivers of certain provisions of the act from the
- Extend each professional educator’s continuing professional education compliance period by one year.
- Permit school entities to renegotiate contracts for school bus transportation services to ensure that contracted personnel and fixed costs, including administrative and equipment costs, are maintained during the school closure, and to receive reimbursement from PDE at the rate they would have received in the absence of the pandemic, provided such entities continue to pay their