Planning for MTSD Students
to Return to Planned Instruction
The current situation that we face presents us with unique challenges related to the management of teaching and learning, at the very least, through April of 2020, and, potentially longer. The solution for positioning our teachers to teach and our students to learn has required careful and significant planning and consideration on the part of our teachers and administrators. As we transition now to online learning, it is important for us to address some key information and details so that you, as parents, know how to support remote learning for your student. We recognize that remote learning is “different” and we want to ensure that all of our students are engaged and safe while they learn from home. We invite parents to review the information in this letter together with their student(s).
- Continuity of Education Plan
- Closing Down the Third Marking Period
- Online/Distance Learning at Manheim Township School District
- Schedule for Online/Distance Learning
- Grading in the 4th Marking Period
- Meeting the Needs of All District Learners
- Extended Learning Opportunities
- Upcoming School and District Events
- MTSD's Tips for Online Learning
- In Closing
CONTINUITY OF EDUCATION PLAN
Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Education tasked school districts with developing “Continuity of Education” Plans. In short, these are documents that outline a district’s plan for education and instruction for their students in instances of prolonged closure. Manheim Township School District’s Continuity of Education Plan qualifies as “Planned Instruction,” indicating our intent to (a) pursue the teaching of our curriculum and standards, (b) do our best to meet the needs of all learners, (c) evaluate student learning, and (d) ultimately, give students “credit” for this instructional time spent toward their attainment of the privilege to be promoted to the next grade level, and, in the case of seniors, to graduate.
CLOSING DOWN THE THIRD MARKING PERIOD
Please click on this link for important information regarding the closing out of the 3rd Marking Period. To address the needs of our students for the 4th Marking Period, teams of administrators, content specialists, supervisors, and teachers have been working closely to compact our curriculum and design meaningful and relevant instruction. In an effort to address the most pressing academic needs of our students, these teams have carefully considered the content that teachers will deliver and assess for the duration of this school year.
AT MANHEIM TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
MTSD teachers are planning for an asynchronous model of online learning which does not require teachers or students to coordinate learning time or govern their day in fixed hours or “start” and “stop” times. Teachers may plan some synchronous learning activities (where there are opportunities for students and teachers to be “online, together”), but there is not an expectation that students must participate at a set time. Our goal is to provide an online learning environment that works most effectively for family schedules which may vary by the day. Please note that teachers will be regularly checking in with students to monitor their participation as well as to determine how students are progressing with their assignments. Our teachers will continue to communicate with our students and families to answer questions. We recognize that communication is one of the most important aspects of remote learning.
SCHEDULE FOR ONLINE/DISTANCE LEARNING
Please refer to the K-12 MTSD Schedule for Instruction to know when you can expect your student’s teachers to be posting new learning, lessons, activities, and assignments. We have staggered the dates when new learning is posted in an effort to make the workload more manageable and flexible for students and families during this unprecedented time. However, assignments and assessments may be due for submission on different days than new learning is posted. Families are encouraged to reach out to teachers directly if you have any questions or concerns about when new learning will occur or when assignments are due.
Manheim Township School District recommends the following time parameters for students to be engaged in remote learning. Please note that these are only recommendations and may need to be adjusted to meet the needs of your student . As a district, we encourage frequent breaks and suggest dividing your student’s work between morning and afternoon sessions. Additionally, students may be reading or completing assignments, projects, and tasks while they are not on their devices as part of their learning experience. We know that many students learn best when they have an established routine and a consistent schedule. We encourage parents/guardians to create a daily/weekly plan that will work for their student.
Elementary (K-6): 1-2 hours per day
Middle School: 2-3 hours per day
High School: 3-4 hours per day
* These estimates include both online (screen time) activities and offline learning activities.
We would like to remind students and families that our Acceptable Use of Technology policy is still in place and linked here for your reference. Parents and students are also encouraged to review (a) School Board Policy No. 815, Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources and (b) School Board Policy No. 249, Bullying/Cyberbullying. Although our secondary students have been able to bring home iPads throughout the school year, having iPads at home is new for our K-6 students. Please review the following expectations with your student, as student safety is our top priority:
- Logging onto the network as another person for any reason is prohibited. Giving out another person’s password or intentionally destroying or altering another student's file may result in disciplinary action.
- Intentional damage to hardware or software is destruction of school property and may result in suspension from school and the making of restitution for damages.
- All apps must be district provided. Logging on to websites that are not school appropriate and/or educational may result in the loss of privileges and disciplinary action.
We will be using Seesaw (Grades K-6) and Schoology (Grades 7-12) to communicate with our students and families about daily/weekly assignments. Please read the information at these links for the Seesaw Code of Conduct, or refer to the Schoology Student Code of Conduct to better understand expectations for students engaged in online learning. If you have any questions regarding the district’s Acceptable Use Policy or Seesaw/Schoology Code of Conducts, please contact your student’s teacher and/or principal.
GRADING IN THE 4TH MARKING PERIOD
In terms of grade-assigning for the 4th Marking Period, we will continue with standard grading practices (not Pass/Fail) for our students. While not all grading categories and some of the more typical forms of assigning work and administering tests will be present, our teachers will still be able to assess the growth and learning of our students in a way that allows them to fairly assign grades in the format that we typically do. One change that we have instituted at the secondary (Grades 7-12) level is that there will be no final exams administered this year. Therefore, final exams will be eliminated as sources drawn upon in order to calculate final grades for the year and for semester two.
MEETING THE NEEDS OF ALL DISTRICT LEARNERS
During this unprecedented time, our focus remains on addressing the needs of all of our students. We acknowledge that instruction may look different, but our desire to meet the diverse and unique needs of our students remains unchanged. If you should have questions regarding your student’s ELD programming, IEP, GIEP, or 504 service agreement, please reach out to your student’s case manager, counselor, or ELD teacher with any questions or concerns. We remain committed to providing all students with access to their educational programming.
EXTENDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Through communication with many of our parents, we understand that you may have taken advantage of learning resources/programs that you independently researched during this time at home. Your student(s) may have engaged in the optional learning opportunities that the district shared with elementary families (on 3/18/20) and secondary families (on 3/19/20). Finally, students may have also pursued optional learning opportunities shared by their individual teacher(s) in previous days/weeks. Students are welcome to continue with any/all of these optional opportunities as we progress through this fourth marking period of the school year.
UPCOMING SCHOOL AND DISTRICT EVENTS
We remain committed to providing our students and families with the most up-to-date information regarding the status of upcoming school events (prom, graduation, etc.). As we receive information, we will continue to be forthcoming with details regarding these events. Thank you for your patience and understanding as these difficult decisions are made with the best interest of our students in mind.
MTSD’s TIPS FOR ONLINE LEARNING
Many of our parents have been asking what they can do now to prepare for online learning next week. By following some of the tips provided below, you will be able to make your student’s online learning a fun and enjoyable experience.
- Assist your student in identifying a quiet area of the house to keep your student’s attention focused on their schoolwork . Areas without distractions (i.e. TV) and away from high-traffic areas should be considered. Students will achieve their best work in a quiet, comfortable, and dedicated space that is strictly devoted to learning.
- Don’t allow your student to treat this time as “a vacation.” This time at home might feel like a vacation for your student, but it’s important to remind them that their education still comes first, and they are responsible for their learning and their school work.
- Just as a reminder, MTSD will be following an asynchronous schedule, which will allow you to create a schedule that works for you and your family to make sure that each student has adequate time to learn. Students will be able to work at their own pace, so create a schedule that will work best for your family.
- Continue to demonstrate flexibility. Model for your student how to prepare and engage meaningfully in their education. If you take it seriously, they will as well.
- Remember, when creating a schedule for your family to include breaks, especially snack time and recess for our younger learners. Students will function best if they maintain their routine as close to normal as possible. Encourage them to get some fresh air, go for a walk or a bike ride (maintaining social distancing protocols at all times).
- Some students may choose to do all of their assignments at one time, while others may choose to spread their work throughout the day. Encourage healthy and successful habits as you know your student best.
- Our teachers are committed to responding within 24 hours if a student or parent has any questions. Please email them - they are available to help!
If you should have further questions regarding the plan for remote learning, please contact your student’s teacher and/or principal. We appreciate your continued support as we focus on building the best remote teaching and learning platform for our teachers, students, and families.