March 26, 2020
Dear Upper St. Clair Families:
I hope this email finds you well. We appreciate your patience, understanding, and support as we navigate this challenging situation. The Upper St. Clair School District fully recognizes that Pennsylvania’s shutdown of schools and non-life-sustaining businesses is impacting our collective community and each of you individually. I continue to be impressed by our community’s ability to come together and support one another during this extremely difficult time.
Despite all of the challenges we are facing, education and our students continue to be the focus for our District staff. We hope that you have been able to access the optional educational resources that were shared last week. The extended school closure has prompted the need for a more robust continuity of instruction plan. We are taking direction from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and watching pending legislation to ensure that when we begin remote instruction, we meet all of the legislative and PDE mandates.
We are committed to continuing to provide quality learning opportunities and instruction that our community expects and students deserve. Our staff has been working diligently to develop a remote instruction plan that will provide continuity of education for our students. Elementary, middle, and high school leadership teams have been meeting daily in preparation for the transition to delivering instruction remotely. In addition to advancing our educational program, these efforts will enable us to preserve the current graduation date for seniors and the last day of school for all other students.
REMOTE INSTRUCTION BEGINS APRIL 2
Teacher-led remote instruction will begin on Thursday, April 2. Details regarding your school-specific schedule and program will be sent directly by your building administrator. Our plan includes multiple options for flexible remote instruction, including student access to course activities and lessons that will be available throughout the day. Detailed information will be provided to you by your building administrator no later than Tuesday, March 31. Additional information and resources will also be posted on the District’s website at that time.
ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY
Students in grades 5-12 have a district-issued iPad or Chromebook. Our technology staff has developed a system to enable elementary families who do not already have a district supplied device in the household, and who qualify for free or reduced priced meals (or families with extenuating circumstances) to borrow an iPad for the duration of the closure. Due to limited inventory, we must restrict loans to one device per family. To complete the COVID-19 District-Loaner iPad Request Form visit: uscsd.org/devicerequest.
For families who do not currently have Internet access in their homes, companies are offering free or low-cost Internet service for qualifying families. Click here to learn more from Comcast or click here to learn more from Verizon.
Dates of Current USCSD Closure
We are in the midst of the second week of the governor’s mandated school closure. As you may know, Gov. Wolf recently expanded the initial two-week closure for one additional week -- through April 6 with the possibility of further extensions. This latest state-wide extension does not impact our course of action. Upper St. Clair schools will remain closed through at least Monday, April 13.
End of School Year
As of today and pending PDE approval, our plan for remote instruction will enable the remainder of the school year to finish on-time per the existing 2019-20 School Calendar. As stated above, graduation for our seniors is anticipated to proceed as scheduled on June 4 and the last day of school for all other students remains June 9.
In order to preserve the end of the school year dates and to avoid further disruption to our students’ education, remote instruction will be provided during our previously scheduled Spring Break, April 6-10 and April 13. These days will now be designated for remote instructional days. The flexibility of remote learning enables families who may be observing religious holidays or traveling to continue to participate in educational activities and timelines for work completion will be flexible.
In the event that additional changes are needed to the school calendar or the end of the school year, we will notify families immediately.
STATE-MANDATED TESTING (PSSA and Keystone exams)
The Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera recently announced the cancellation of all state standardized testing – including the PSSA, PASA (our alternative assessment), and Keystone Exams – that was scheduled for this spring.
This is a welcome relief amidst a very uncertain period of time in education. We are grateful that our energy and efforts can be devoted to addressing our students’ most pressing needs. And, when instruction resumes, our school days will be devoted to instruction rather than test administration.
We are looking to make potential changes to the methodology as well as adjustments to our marking periods for progress reports and report cards. Those changes will be shared by your building administrators as soon as details are finalized.
At the outset of next week, you will receive an email from your building administrator regarding the specifics of your child’s remote learning experience. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your child’s principal via email.
We look forward to seeing you and all of our students when our medical professionals and government officials deem it safe to return. In the meantime, please know we remain committed to delivering a high quality remote learning experience.
Dr. John T. Rozzo