Our parents may be hearing that some districts are asking their staff to start preparing lesson plans for online learning for several days in the event that schools need to close. At this time, MTSD is unable to effectively provide instruction to students in kindergarten through grade 12 through online learning for several reasons:
- Unless we have a specific directive to close schools issued by a PA emergency/health-related agency and the PA Dept of Education (PDE), public school districts do not have the autonomy to unilaterally shut down and provide instruction online for the rest of the school year.
- If we would need to close for a day, several days, or a week due to an emergency, we would need to make those days up (unless the legislature would allow public school districts to cancel some of their state-mandated 180 days of operation).
- At this time the law requires school districts to engage in a formal application process in order to be granted the use of “Flexible Instructional Days” (FID) for severe weather and/or emergencies.
Other concerns include:
- Student access to technology and the internet. Not all students at MTSD have access to the internet or technology in their homes.
- Lack of parent/family support during the “at-home school day”. There may not be a parent in the home during the day to support the students in their online learning. Many of our students have two working parents and students would need to spend their at-home “school day” with grandparents or other family members, neighbors, day cares, etc.
- Lack of consistent daily instructional support. We cannot ensure that all kindergarten through grade 12 students would be engaged in online learning for the required amount of time. The lack of consistent daily instructional supervision would be very difficult. Educating younger students 6+ hours a day online would be very difficult.
- Consideration for our students with special needs and English Learners. We have students who need to be in school to learn; their team of educators and specialists are necessary to provide instruction. The same applies to our growing number of students who are English Language Learners. Their instruction needs to occur within a school setting with teachers.