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UPSD Preparing for Virtual Return
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Classes in the Upper Perkiomen School District are expected to resume March 30, even though teachers and students will not be in the schools. Administrators and teachers will be ready to offer a continuity of educational services for all its students, according to an email message from Superintendent Allyn Roche to the UPSD community.

            On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced an extension of the mandatory school closures due to the COVID-19 virus through at least April 6. District officials will continue working to prepare e-learning for the final Monday of the month, according to a text from Mike Elliot, Vice President of the Upper Perkiomen School Board.

            "Knowing today does bring clarity to the district's focus this week," Elliot wrote in a text on Monday.

            Teachers and administrators have been working for several weeks to create meaningful online activities for students, according to School Board President Raeann Hofkin. She wrote in a March 23 email message that the members were planning to discuss the issue during the March 12 meeting, but the governor ordered the current two-week closure before the plan was completed.

            Beginning on March 30, all students will be continuing their educations and courses of study beyond remediation and enrichment to include new content and learning and meet the criteria set forth by the education department to have these days count toward student instructional days for this school year, the letter states.

            "Please know that new teaching and learning will be happening for our students, and work will be required and graded per usual," Roche wrote.

            Marking period lengths and report card dates may need adjustment.

            Every student between fifth and 12th grade has access to an electronic device. Middle school students were issued Chrome books and those at the high school utilize iPads. A vast majority of those students have access to the internet away from school. Students from kindergarten through fifth grade share electronic devices that remain on site.

            In the letter, administrators ask parents for patience.

"Everyone in the district has been working hard on having a plan to educate all children," Elliot said Monday.

            Additionally, the superintendent announced that the district will not make up the 11 days lost during the current stretch of closure due to concerns over the novel coronavirus. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has determined that no school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours requirements.

            Spring break, scheduled from April 9 to April 13, will remain part of the current school calendar barring any changes from the state or Gov. Tom Wolf. The district has not yet used the emergency days scheduled at the end of June, administrators may have some flexibility with the school calendar, if needed, based upon how everything moves forward, according to the May 19 message.

            "Unfortunately, we will not be able to make a final determination on the end of the school calendar and specific days until our schools are open and we have greater clarity from the state," Roche wrote.

            The school board is considering the possibility of holding a virtual meeting in the near future, according to Hofkin.





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