3/30: Update from Dr. Gerhard

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton March 30, 2020 19:00

Hello Governor Mifflin families,

This week, as we start a new phase of learning and the third week of our schools being closed, above all else, I hope you and your family are well. Today, we heard from Governor Wolf that schools will be closed “indefinitely” and with that news, we believe there is no longer reason to anticipate a reopening date of April 13. For that reason, we will be accelerating our original timeline as detailed in my previous message on March 24.

Our teachers will continue to provide online enrichment activities through this week. Beginning Monday, April 6, we will be starting our daily online planned instruction for families. In the days ahead, our leadership team and teachers will be working to finalize the details of that plan, including grading and attendance protocols, while examining additional options for technology access and support. This new schedule will still observe our “spring break” and there will be no instruction on Thursday, April 9 or Friday, April 10. Following that planned break, online instruction will resume Monday, April 13.

For our online efforts to be successful for all involved, I ask you to read the following details and work with us to ensure the privacy and success of our students:

Let’s learn together
Please remember that the online learning opportunities between today and April 6, are brand new practices for our staff members who are used to sharing a traditional classroom with your student(s). Our teachers have worked over the past several years to enhance their classrooms with innovative technology. They had just one week to learn how to best work with students remotely and we are proud of their efforts. There may be technical difficulties and glitches we have yet to discover or address. Please be patient. Your constructive feedback is vital in helping to improve our online program and so if you have an idea or issue to share, please use the following contacts:

Please respect our online classrooms
Please do your best to think of our online classrooms in the same way you think of our traditional classrooms. Encourage your children to do the same. A behavior that would be unacceptable in a regular classroom, should be considered unacceptable when children are gathered in Google Meet or any other online forum.

Please respect the privacy of our students and teachers while online. Our district will not be recording video conferences between teachers and students as it raises a number of legal issues around privacy. We ask that families also do not take photos or screenshots of video conferences where other students or staff members can be seen, as it violates students’ and staff members’ rights to privacy. We ask that you please review this updated Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Notification regarding online learning. This information is also available for regular reference on our Governor Mifflin Learning at Home website.

Set up for success
For your child to have the most successful online experience, we recommend that you take the time to establish a daily routine and structure that would mimic that of a regular school experience. We offer the following tips:

  • Identify a space, such as a dining room table, that could become the study space. It is beneficial to make this space different from a bedroom or other location with distractions.
  • Develop a structured schedule for school work (e.g., 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.). This structure will begin to form a routine.
  • Eliminate other distractions, such as cell phones and television, from the environment.
  • Reinforce the importance of consistency in sleep patterns. We want to avoid “summer mode” when some students stay up very late and then “sleep until noon.”
  • Ensure some “brain breaks” and exercise opportunities within the work times. The balance of mind and body will be especially important given the stress and anxiety of this global pandemic. Our Governor Mifflin School Psychologists shared this resource about helping children cope with changes resulting from COVID-19.

As we finalize the next phase of learning beginning April 6, I will continue to keep you up-to-date via email. You can also view all of our district’s messages and resources regarding COVID-19 on our website at www.governormifflinsd.org/covid-19.

In closing, I remind you that this week we are beginning something new and on a scale that we would have preferred to spend much more time planning for. But I remain proud of our district staff and families for your incredible response to this challenge.

Be well!

Dr. Steve Gerhard
Governor Mifflin School District

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton March 30, 2020 19:00