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March 31, 2020

Dear Colleague,

Yesterday, Governor Wolf announced that all schools will remain closed until further notice as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all Pennsylvanians.

We, at PDE, want to thank you for your patience, continued leadership and steadfast service to your communities through these uncertain and constantly evolving circumstances. 

As we navigate these unprecedented long-term school closures, the work around continuity of education takes on greater importance.  We are aware that many schools have begun developing and implementing continuity of education plans over the past few weeks. To assist with these ongoing efforts, PDE is developing and making available additional resources to help schools ensure that all students have access to continuity of education experiences. These voluntary resources are intended to help all schools but may be particularly beneficial to those not currently offering online platforms.

Online Learning Platforms

Beginning today, March 31, schools interested in establishing new course offerings or supplementing existing continuity of education programs can subscribe to the online learning platforms Odysseyware and Edgenuity. These platforms provide online access to coursework in English Language Arts, math, and many other subjects for students in grades K-5 and 6-12, respectively.

There is no cost to schools to use these resources. If your school is interested in pursuing any of these resources, please complete and submit the survey you will receive from your local intermediate unit by noon on Friday, April 3.  If you do not receive the survey, please contact the executive director of your local intermediate unit.

Public Broadcasting Partnership

Additionally, PDE has partnered in recent weeks with the statewide leads for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to offer communities with limited internet access use of instructional programming that is being broadcast by all of Pennsylvania’s PBS affiliates. Each PBS affiliate is providing instructional blocks of programming targeted to different grade spans, varying by region, and began March 30: https://www.learningathomepa.org 

Equity Grants

Equity has been at the forefront of every decision PDE has made over the past five years; that commitment doesn’t change in the context of an emergency response – in fact, it’s all the more important to redouble these efforts when vulnerable students and communities are most at risk.  As such, PDE will be offering equity grants to help schools overcome gaps in student access to instructional materials. Grant funding may be used for any of the following: 1) digital technology purchases, such as laptops, tablets, or hot spots; 2) non-digital purchases, such as paper, postage or transportation of materials; and 3) accommodations that increase access to learning. An abbreviated grant application period will open on Monday, April 6 and close on Friday, April 10. More details will be posted to PDE’s website later this week.

We are pleased to be able to leverage these resources to assist our schools during this unprecedented situation. Recognize that these resources are optional; use them to the extent that they provide value to your existing continuity of education plans. PDE will continue to provide schools and communities with updated guidance as we work through the school closure challenges together.

-Pedro