A Message from the Superintendent -- Move to Remote Learning for Secondary Students

Dear BASD Families: 

As of Tuesday, November 3, 2020, we are moving to remote instruction at the secondary level (grades 7-12). This operating status will remain in effect until at least Friday, November 6, 2020.  As a reminder, Monday, November 2 is an in-service/ Act 80 day, so students do not have school.

As you know, we are basing our school operation status on two things: (1) the community transmission of COVID-19 and (2) positive cases among our school community (students and faculty/staff). 

The number of cases in our zip codes continues to rise.  The congregate living facility does represent a large number of cases in our community. However, even when removing those case numbers from our zip code data COVID case count, we have already exceeded our weekly threshold of cases attributed to the zip codes of our school district.  

In addition to the community spread of COVID-19, we are being impacted directly in our schools.  Over the past week, we have had members of our learning community test positive for COVID-19 and we have numerous employees who have been quarantined.  This directly impacts our ability to operate our secondary schools.  

Unlike our elementary schools, our secondary schools are not fully socially distanced all day. Therefore, we are moving to remote instruction at the secondary (grades 7-12), but will continue our “Enhanced Green” operation (in-person instruction) for elementary and middle school (grades K-6).

As we move to remote learning at the secondary due to community spread of COVID-19 and staffing challenges, we will continue to watch the data and make a determination on Friday, November 6, 2020 as to the operating status for the week of November 9, 2020.  

We are also considering the implementation of a blended learning/cohort model that we could use in between “Enhanced Green” (aka full time in-person instruction) and full time remote instruction at the secondary.  I am seeking guidance from the state as to what is an appropriate threshold for moving between a blended learning/cohort model and full time remote instruction.

As of now, here is our plan based on our local COVID-19 data:

  • If the data indicates that the spread of COVID-19 is below the thresholds we have established, we will return to in person instruction (Enhanced Green).  
  • If the data indicates cases have increased to “substantial,” we would continue in remote instruction. 
  • If the data indicates cases have remained in the recommended range for blended learning by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we could move to a cohort model at the secondary. A cohort model will include both in-person instruction and remote learning. If we remain in the recommended range for blended learning, our goal will be to get our cohort model implemented as quickly as possible so that our students may at least have some in-person instruction as soon as possible. As previously mentioned I am seeking guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

What does this mean for your student(s)? 

Secondary Students (grades 7-12) enrolled in the Traditional School Model: Students will now learn remotely. Students should expect to be online for each of their classes during its regularly scheduled time. Their individual teachers will be in touch with more details.

Secondary Students (grades 7-12) enrolled in the Hybrid School Model or Flexible Traditional School Model: Students will now learn remotely. Students should expect to be online for each of their classes during its regularly scheduled time. Their individual teachers will be in touch with more details. 

Secondary Students (grades 7-12) enrolled in the Online/Cyber School Model: Students will continue to learn remotely. There will not be a change to their schedule.

Secondary Students (grades 7-12) who are in Specialized Special Education Classrooms:  This includes our Life Skills, Autistic Support, and Multiple Disabilities Classrooms.  Students will continue in our “Enhanced Green” operation status.  There will not be a change or a disruption to their schedule. If they are enrolled in the Traditional School Model, they will continue to report to school in person full time. If they are enrolled in the Hybrid or Flexible Traditional School Model, they will continue to report to school in person during their schedule time and learn remotely during their schedule time. Students enrolled in the Online/Cyber School Model will continue to learn remotely.

Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School Students: BCAVTS is its own school entity. As such, they will determine their operation status. If BCAVTS remains open for in-person instruction while our secondary schools are operating remotely, transportation will be provided to and from BCAVTS, if needed. 

If you requested transportation for Monday, November 2, your transportation will continue throughout the week (Nov. 2-6). If you have not yet requested transportation, but will need transportation provided for the week of Nov. 2-6, please inform the BCAVTS principal’s office.

Center Avenue Community School Students (grades K-12): Students will continue in our “Enhanced Green” operation status. There will not be a change or a disruption to their schedule. If they are enrolled in the Traditional School Model, they will continue to report to school in person full time. If they are enrolled in the Hybrid or Flexible Traditional School Model, they will continue to report to school in person during their schedule time and learn remotely during their schedule time. Students enrolled in the Online/Cyber School Model will continue to learn remotely.

Elementary and Middle School Students (grades K-6): Students will continue in our “Enhanced Green” operation status. There will not be a change or a disruption to their schedule. If they are enrolled in the Traditional School Model, they will continue to report to school in person full time. Students enrolled in the Online/Cyber School Model will continue to learn remotely.

Food Service

Our food service program will continue during this time. Secondary families (grades 7-12) who are in need of meals may sign up to receive breakfast and lunch for free during this temporary remote learning period. We will distribute meals on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at Broad Street School. Each registered student will receive 4 breakfasts and 4 lunches.  Please register:  https://forms.gle/Rnt3dRejKK3XBUfL8

Students in grades K-6, Center Avenue students and students in self-contained special education classrooms may continue to receive meals as they have been throughout our “Enhanced Green” operation status. 

Athletics and Activities

At this point our athletic program will proceed with the existing COVID protocols as it has this Fall. Teams will continue to practice and compete unless directed otherwise. I encourage all of our student athletes and coaches to be mindful of social distancing and wearing a mask when appropriate.

Substitute Teachers

A shortage of substitute teachers is a challenge to our ability to fully staff our schools. Our need for substitute teachers this year is greater than ever before. As I previously mentioned, staffing our schools is becoming more of a challenge

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows anyone with a Bachelor's Degree and appropriate security clearances to be issued an emergency teaching certification as a guest teacher with two days of training.

If you know of anyone who holds a bachelor’s degree and is unemployed or underemployed, please encourage them to contact us about becoming a guest teacher.  Anyone who may be interested should contact Kristen Clouse, Supervisor of Human Resources at kristen_clouse@butler.k12.pa.us
 

Thank You

I know this is a challenge and a burden for every one of our families. I am grateful to all of you for your continued flexibility and support as we navigate through this. I do not take the decision to move to remote learning at our secondary schools lightly. Learning through an online platform is not ideal for many of our students. I hope that the COVID-19 cases diminish and we can safely return to in person instruction. You should anticipate an update from me on Friday, November 6, 2020.

 

Sincerely, 

Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District





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