April 15, 2020
It has been roughly four weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented change to our school communities, including building closures, transitions to distance learning, and the cancellation of traditional year-end activities. Over that time, I’ve been moved by the tireless efforts of school leaders across the state to ensure students and families continue to be served.
As educators, our top priority has always been to ensure the health and safety of students. As such, the immediate days after the statewide school closure were focused on communicating with families, removing barriers, and providing meals to students. As the situation evolved – and the duration of the closure extended, we placed a strong emphasis on continuity of education, either through enrichment and review or planned instruction.
Last week’s announcement that schools will remain closed for the balance of the school year was another effort to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff, and communities. It also means that with half of April, all of May, and some of June ahead of us, we must increase the intensity and focus of our efforts around instruction for all students, at all grade levels.
As educators preparing students to continue on to postsecondary opportunities, the workforce or transitioning to their next grade, it is our responsibility and expectation that every school offer planned instruction at every grade level for all students.
I recognize that there is no precedent for what you are being asked to do and it is not an easy task, but it is our collective, moral responsibility as education leaders to do all we can to ensure equity and opportunity for those we serve. We are a state rich in diversity – and that means no single solution will be effective for all schools. That’s why PDE has outlined several resources available to support your district or school in this endeavor, including digital and non-digital options. If you have not already, please consider pursuing one of these resources or technical support by connecting with your local intermediate unit.
I know that many LEAs have already submitted Continuity of Education plans that may not yet address the need for planned instruction at all grade levels. These plans are dynamic, and as you revise and strengthen them, you can submit updates to
RA-EDCONTINUITYOFED@pa.gov, and PDE will replace your plan with the most recent version.
These are challenging conditions, and as the situation has evolved, so has our response as educators. I am confident that, together, we will do everything in our power to ensure the provision of meaningful instruction to every student. And if there is anything my team can do to support yours, please reach out.
Thank you for all you continue to do to serve your community.