Return to School Task Force » FR Return to School Task Force

FR Return to School Task Force

On March 13, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all public schools closed due to concerns related to COVID-19. Franklin Regional administrators started the work of planning for online instruction on March 14, 2020. In addition to administrative team meetings that ensured vertical alignment, grade-span teams met at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to create a Continuity of Education Plan (CEP) that allowed the continuation of planned instruction through an online platform. The interactive planning process actively engaged administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and many other staff members.
As part of the process, the needs of all staff were analyzed in the development of an intensive professional development plan. From March 25th through March 27th, administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals engaged in planned workshops and tutorial sessions designed to enable them to successfully deliver online instruction and support the learning needs of ALL students.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) was also ensured for students with special needs through specially designed instruction and other support services delivered by special
education teachers, educational specialists, and paraprofessionals.
Logistically, the District also had to plan for the technological needs of students. Franklin Regional Senior High School (FRSH) students were provided with Chromebooks in the fall of 2019 as part of a new 1 to 1 initiative. A large number of families with elementary and middle school students, however, indicated a need for technology to support their child’s learning in an online environment. The Technology Department, with assistance from Computer Centerline
technicians and Franklin Regional paraprofessionals and custodial/maintenance personnel, provided over 800 Chromebooks to Franklin Regional elementary and middle school students.
Additionally, families with limited or no internet service were provided assistance in accessing free or low-cost services through various providers or loaned MiFi devices from the District.
The District also accounted for the mental health needs of students. The Student Support Services team worked with Family Behavioral Resources and other approved providers to ensure that students with mental health needs continued to receive essential counseling and therapy services. Additionally, the Student Assistance Programs continue to meet and work with students and families at each of the District’s five schools.
The District started to provide breakfasts and lunches on March 19th to students enrolled in the Free/Reduced meal program as part of the National School Lunch Program. Franklin Regional School District received permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in early April to provide breakfast and lunch to all Franklin Regional School District students and
any children age 18 and under who reside in the District. Since April 6, 2020, the Franklin Regional School District, in partnership with Metz Culinary, has been serving 1,400 to 1,600 meals each day. School Police, paraprofessionals, support staff, administrators, athletic coaches, teachers, and community volunteers have been distributing meals between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each weekday at FRSH.
On April 9, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the closure of the Commonwealth’s public schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. At this time, it is unclear when and where school buildings will be fully open: only the green status would permit in-person school building-based instruction. Therefore, it is prudent to consider how this situation could impact the 2020-21 school year for Franklin Regional students, families, and staff. It is our intention to offer innovative and effective solutions to provide a full and well-rounded curriculum in school environments that are safe and compliant with social distancing requirements.
Franklin Regional School District is responsible for the education of more than 3,400 public school students. As school and community leaders, we acknowledge the limitations of only providing remote education. We also recognize the importance of balancing the educational needs of students with the overall responsibility of ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of all stakeholders during this global pandemic. The challenges presented by COVID-19 and the responsibility of following the Center for Disease Control and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance, necessitate that we carefully and thoughtfully plan how we will educate students next year and possibly further into the future.
Our community responds to adversity by pulling together and collaborating to overcome the challenges that we have faced over the years. Therefore, we believe in the power of teamwork and feel that it is necessary to launch a Back to School Task-Force composed of individuals from our respective stakeholder groups.
Ultimately the Task-Force and the various workgroups outlined below are charged with evaluating the many hurdles that our students, families, staff, educational partners, and the community will face if social distancing practices prohibit large groups from assembling for the start of school or at any point throughout the school year.
The Task-Force and works groups should minimally focus on planning for the following scenarios:

1. Pennsylvania declares Westmoreland County’s status as green and that public schools may fully open for the 2020-2021 school year.

2. Pennsylvania declares Westmoreland County’s status as green and public schools may open with strict social-distancing restrictions and possibly alternative schedules.

3. Pennsylvania declares Westmoreland County’s status as green and that public schools may fully open or open with strict social-distancing restrictions and with the employment of alternate schedules or other stringent safety protocols. However, concerns of families require the District to provide a hybrid educational model that includes options for in-building classes, full online options, or a combination of an in-building and online model.

4. Pennsylvania classifies Westmoreland County as yellow or red and/or prohibits the full reopening of public schools in Westmoreland County or across the Commonwealth.
Therefore, an online instructional model must be utilized to start the 2020-2021 School year. The workgroups must plan for a successful return to school at any point during the 2020-2021 school year.

5. Pennsylvania declares Westmoreland County’s status as green and that public schools may fully open or open with strict social-distancing restrictions and with the employment of alternate schedules or other stringent safety protocols. Franklin Regional begins in-building education, however, due to government mandates or mitigating local factors, our schools must close.
Each workgroup will:

● Develop recommendations for the group’s coordinators to submit June 15, 2020, to the Task-Force Steering Committee.
● Compile a list of innovative solutions for the district to consider within numerous areas, including academics, extra-curricular, and non-instructional operations.
● Identify and increase attention to areas of policy and practice that may require temporary changes in order for our schools to open in compliance with state, federal, and CDC recommendations.
● Benchmark Franklin Regional’s strategies and practices with those being employed by other school systems or suggestions located in Pennsylvania’s online repository of resources for policymakers, districts, communities, parents, and other stakeholders. The online repository is being developed by the
members of PSBA, PASA, PASBO, PAESSP, PSEA, and other organizations.
● Identify potential solutions and costs for specific products and services that will allow students the fullest educational and extra-curricular experience possible, while protecting the health, safety, and welfare of all stakeholders.
The Back to School Task-Force Steering Committee will publish the results and send the report to the Board of School Directors no later than July 1, 2020.