Continuity of Education Plan

Last Updated: 4/8/2020 12:05 PM

The initial goal of the plan is to provide enrichment and review of curriculum, in grades K-12, through the use of online resources and various communication platforms. Once necessary professional development, instructional resources and technology is further reinforced the district’s goal will shift to providing planned instruction for students in grades K-12.

Overview of the Plan

The continuity of education plan for the Butler Area School District focuses on a flexible approach to adapt to the direction provided by the federal and state governments, continued communication with district stakeholders through multiple forms of media, and providing the necessary technology and instructional resources for staff to effectively meet the student learning-based goals of this plan.

The plan was originally developed with enrichment and review of existing curriculum being the goal for instruction. Due to potential concerns and limitations in meeting the instructional and technological supports of all of the students in the Butler Area School District, recommended activities were shared through online resource pages and links were shared with students and parents/ guardians. This goal would extend through the third quarter of the school year, which is now planned to end on 4/9/2020. During this time, students are strongly encouraged to complete district-provided activities to improve existing grades, but students who are unable to participate will not be penalized.

Through the development of the district’s “National Emergency IEP Addendum / Revision” special education plan, professional development opportunities, technology distribution and online student resources, and additional online instructional resources, in addition to the extension of the closure time period, the district has transitioned the continuity of education plan to focus on planned instruction. The transition to this goal for secondary students would occur for the start of the fourth grading quarter, on 4/15/2020. The elementary grades, K-6, will transition to planned instruction on 4/27/2020.

The Butler Area School District will also work with our partnering Approved Private Schools and Private Academic Schools that serve our students attending these facilities.  The district will ensure that the same opportunities exist for all of our students through each Continuity of Education Plan created by these entities as well.     

Expectations for Teaching and Learning

With the initial goal of the continuity of education plan focusing on enrichment and review, and realizing the need to prepare both staff and students for remote learning, expectations for teaching and learning were developed with flexibility in mind. To begin with, all teachers within the district were required to complete a two-day Google Classroom training at the start of the school closure.  Additionally, following the district closing, planning sessions were organized on Monday, March 16, 2020 to assist with building and grade level home-based learning development. These planning sessions focused on bolstering staff distance education skills and providing resources to support increased online learning opportunities. These staff planning/ development sessions focused on:

  • EverFi: web-based lessons for grades 3-12.
  • Utilizing Online Resources: focusing on resources such as Think Central and Benchmark Advanced, and how to utilize them. 
  • Utilizing Google Meet/Video in the Educational Setting: how to present materials and record items.  
  • Planning Assignments for the first week of school closure, which will be in accordance with Flexible Instruction Day.
  • Assignment planning by subject
  • How to use the district lesson/ activity planning organizer link 
  • Planning lessons in grade level teams for potential offline assignments in ELA and Math (K-4) and  ELA, Math, Social Studies (5-6)

The initial plan for continuity of education included utilizing state-approved FID days. During that time the expectations, as outlined above, was for staff to have materials available for students to access online through their individual websites. Due to potential limitations with technology or instructional supports, these activities although recommended were deemed to be flexible and optional. Students who were able to complete the tasks were asked to submit complete work to teachers digitally, and could access teachers for support during the work day via email.

This plan continued to evolve as additional resources were provided through district-provided technology and additional learning resources. The following information was provided to parents through a letter in order to assist with enrichment and review in a remote/ home environment (this is noted through the Student Expectations section of the Continuity of Education Plan). 

Although these activities are in place, the district plans to leverage the learning management system Google Classroom and implement teacher usage of this resource at all grade levels. Additionally, with the Pennsylvania Department of Education providing districts with cyber platform alternatives, such as Edgenuity (grades 7-12) and

Odysseyware (grades K-6), the Butler Area School Districts looks to also implement these resources, permitting the district to transition into a planned instruction goal.

Once the shift to planned instruction occurs, increased student participation and grading will be expected. The district also envisions this shift to be possible due to increased levels of technology being provided to students in order to permit the completion of assignments.

Communication Tools and Strategies

 The district provided communications throughout the school closure to the district personnel and families through the use of daily email letters indicating district direction, state government level directives, and general educational information. Additionally, the information provided through the email correspondences, and other pertinent information pertaining to the district’s educational and operational procedures were displayed on the district website under the COVID-19 link:

https://www.basdk12.org/administration/covid19

To assist with staff communication/ meetings and IEP/ GIEP review, individual phone calls, Google Meet, and other aspects of the Google Suite were used to assist with distance communication (Please see the IEP/ GIEP for more specific details pertaining to the communication process).  

A final method utilized to communicate a daily elementary and secondary level lesson, was an educational radio broadcast segment that aired daily through the local station, WISR. On Monday, March 23, Butler Area School District began partnering with Butler Radio to provide information and instruction to our students and families.  Daily teacher-led broadcasts from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for all secondary students in grades 7-12 and from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. for all elementary students in grades K-6 were aired. All listeners with the broadcasting region, and internet users were able to access the broadcast on WISR AM 680 or through the internet at https://butlerradio.com

Access (Devices, Platforms, Handouts) 

Realizing the remote learning was a likely shift in educational practice for the district and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the district provided a brief technology access survey that was completed by all students in grades 5-12 during the week prior to the mandated school closures. Additionally, surveys were sent home with students in grades K-4 during the same timeframe, for parents/ guardians to complete and return to the school. The purpose of the survey was to assess Butler Area School District student access to various devices including: laptop computers, desk top computers, electronic tablets, notebooks, and cell phones.  The survey also sought to determine if student households had internet connectivity.

As a result of this survey, student needs lists were generated and a plan was developed to provide students with district devices. For students requiring internet connectivity, mobile internet hotspots were purchased and distributed, but due to a growing demand for these devices and a limited supply of inventory available, an agreement was created between Armstrong Utilities and the Butler Area School District to provide internet connectivity for families located in areas already serviced by the cable company, but needing installation. The agreement provides internet to the students at no cost to the family, for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Families located in areas where Armstrong service was not viable, received the wireless internet hotspots purchased by the district.

Original plans for device distribution focused on dropping equipment off at residences, but this plan was shifted to parent/ guardian pick-up of district technology on school property because the requests for devices increased considerably as remote learning capabilities increased. A general framework for device by grade level need was developed by the district’s administrative team. Students in grades K-4 received iPads and students in grades 5-12 received laptop computers, with exceptions occurring due to potential special education needs dictating the appropriate device, or if additional devices may be needed within a home. Social distancing practices outlined by the CDC and Department of Health were maintained during technology distribution activities.

At the current time, approximately 550 technology devices, including iPads and laptops have been distributed to families. Additionally, approximately 50 mobile internet hotspots have been distributed and over 100 installations will be performed by Armstrong Utilities.  The district plans to continue to distribute technology to students, as needs arise, on a weekly basis.

A final element within the instructional technology infrastructure is parent/student and staff support. Technology help lines were established to assist parents/ students and staff. The lines are staffed by district educators who specialize in instructional technology usage as it pertains to lesson delivery and student support, and district instructional technology staff.

Staff General Expectations

 All teachers will have office hours every day. This is a time when students/ parents can contact teachers if they have questions or need help with activities/ assignments. Teachers are to be available for all of their students during this two hour time period. These office hours can not be used for tutoring. Teachers should expect to communicate with their classes using digital media at least once a week. Administrators and teaching staff may use Google Meet at times to communicate. If this occurs, the conversations, whether by phone, video or chat will not be recorded.

Additionally, teachers will have common planning time each week and participate in weekly building meetings/ professional development through Google Meet. Optional growth opportunities will also be provided for staff on a weekly basis.  

A district resource list providing instructional and technology-based information is available to all district staff.  Included in this Admin Hub, which is available through the Google Suite, are grade level and subject-area activity/ assignment information, technology-specific links and support, and staff growth opportunities.

Once the district transitions to planned instruction, district teachers will be expected to use Google Classroom (grades 5-12) or Clever (grades K-4) as the learning management system.

Student Expectations

General student expectations during the third quarter, which ends on 4/9/2020, was that students would participate in optional activities provided through the district’s website and teachers’ websites. Students who were unable to participate in these activities would not be penalized, but those able to participate could improve their third quarter grades. 

In order to assist with potential questions and workflow, all students in grades 7-12 were provided with district gmail accounts. All students in grades K-6 were provided with hard copy Clever QR codes and directions to utilize this information, to assist with accessing district activities.  Additional learning activities were developed and placed on the Student Learning Enrichment Activities found below, which is available on the district website, and was emailed to parents:

Student Learning Enrichment Opportunities>

Attendance/ Accountability

Initial FID day attendance was based on the completion of assignments and the eventual submission of these assignments digitally, or through hard copy submission. With the shift to remote learning, more specifically enrichment and review, participation was strongly encouraged, but the completion of learning activities was optional.

With a shift to planned instruction for the fourth quarter, attendance would be expected and managed on a daily basis.

Good Faith Efforts for Access and Equity for All Students

 The Butler Area School District has strived to support all students and families during the school closure. The district’s good faith efforts for access and equity for all students can be noted through the following actions:

  • Providing optional online learning opportunities and activities for all students. If families are unable to participate, the district plans to provide additional learning opportunities during the summer months.

  • Distributing district technology to students who request devices. Grades K-4 were provided iPads; Grades 5-12 were provided laptop computers; Special needs students were provided devices related to educational needs.

  • Providing means through which students could receive internet access. A limited number of district-purchased mobile internet hotspots were provided to families, at no cost to the family. Additionally, the Butler Area School District contracted with the local cable/ internet provider, Armstrong Utilities, to have internet installed in houses lacking connectivity, at no cost to the family.

  • Daily elementary and secondary radio lessons on WISR available to all of the district students/ families. These radio presentations were recorded and aired from 3/23/2020-4/9/2020.

  • Elementary students in grades K-6 are able to call a designated number to access a recording of the daily assignments.

  • The district created a community technology support phone line/ email contact and a staff technology support phone line/ email contact.  The community technology support phone line, 724-214-3199, is available to assist with technology-based questions including: installation, technology needs/ requests, and education platform assistance.

  • The Butler Area School District has elected to leverage the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s agreement with Edgenuity and Odysseyware, and integrate these online learning platforms into the digital curriculum being implemented by district staff.

Special Education Supports

The Special Education Office has worked diligently to provide necessary supports, with the understanding that remote learning will be a challenge for many of our students during this unprecedented time.  The Butler Area School District teachers and the Special Education Office have worked diligently to develop ways to prepare and deliver instruction using this model in an attempt to continue to provide the necessary support many of our students with disabilities need.  The district benefits from support from numerous resources including the Midwestern Intermediate Unit, the Pennsylvania Technical and Training Network, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and our various consultants.

On March 23, 2020, the special education teachers began reaching out to each of their students/families to talk through how we can best support students with IEPs while they are learning remotely. During that time, the district will be presenting a “National Emergency IEP Addendum / Revision” document created for this purpose.  The information reviewed within this document will assist the child’s IEP team to continue to provide services during this mandated school closure, identify what additional supports can be provided, and identify what supports as outlined in each IEP are not applicable in a remote learning model.

During the school closure, the Butler Area School District will still be scheduling and developing annual Individualized Education Plans as they come due using a phone or video conference platform.  We will also be able to work through Evaluations and Reevaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations with parent or guardian consent. However, Evaluations of students with disabilities requiring face-to-face assessments or observations will need to be delayed until school reopens.  

Upon the return to a typical school program, a child’s IEP team will reconvene to establish a plan to address any skills that may have been lost during the closure.  The district also recognizes that some students may need additional academic support, which we intend to provide. For other students, we will plan for additional learning opportunities made available this summer.

The following guidelines are being implemented to assist with continuity of education:

  1. If an evaluation requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens.

  2. During this current district wide “Remote Learning” model, the IEP team can convene or reconvene at any point in time either via phone conference or video conference.

  3. Annual IEP teams must reconvene prior to its due date and a team meeting will be offered via phone conference or video conference.  Those that are already late will be scheduled as soon as we can.

  4. Once school resumes, The IEP team may reconvene to establish a plan to address any concerns in a reasonable amount of time.

  5. Methods to contact a parent/ guardian have been established and are as follows:

    1.  Email a parent/ guardian to set up a time for Google Meet.  A parent/ guardian can participate in the meeting either virtually or by phone.

    2.  Email a parent/ guardian to call and join you in a conference call.

    3. Use your personal phone and dial *67 prior to dialing number.

    4. Initiate call with Google Meets.

      6.  Documents may be mailed home, if email addresses are not available, or if finalized documents need to be submitted to the Special Education Office.

The Butler Area School District will also work with our partnering Approved Private Schools and Private Academic Schools that serve our students attending these facilities.  The district will ensure that the same opportunities exist for all of our students through each Continuity of Education Plan created by these entities as well.     

EL Supports

At the onset of the closure, and as documents have developed, the district EL teachers have worked to create district-wide translations of these documents.  The items have been placed on the district website and hard copies of communications, for those without email, have been mailed home.  

Additionally, the EL staff has worked to create native-language translated instructional plans and technology-based assistance plans for students who do not have digital access and hard copy mailing. TransPerfect was also used to assist with the accessibility and instructional needs of the students

Gifted Education

Weekly enhanced enrichment assignments for K-6 students, who have been identified as gifted and talented, are sent to each student currently attending the Gifted Center.  Secondary level students have been provided learning materials through their dedicated gifted classes. The guidelines for GIEP review, evaluation, and testing are as follows:

Guidelines for Gifted Education in the Butler Area School District

Although gifted and talented-specific guidance relating to services, as is the case with all of the students within the Butler Area School District, we are planning with students in mind. The following guidelines are being implemented to assist with the continuity of education.

  1. If a gifted evaluation requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens.

  2. During this current district wide “Remote Learning” model, the GIEP team can convene or reconvene at any point in time either via phone conference or video conference.

  3. Annual GIEP teams must reconvene prior to its due date and a team meeting will be offered via phone conference or video conference.  Those that are already late will be scheduled as soon as we can.

  4. Once school resumes, The GIEP team may reconvene to establish a plan to address any concerns in a reasonable amount of time.

  5. Methods to contact a parent/ guardian have been established and are as follows:

  6.  Email a parent/ guardian to set up a time for Google Meet.  A parent/ guardian can participate in the meeting either virtually or by phone.

  7.  Email a parent/ guardian to call and join you in a conference call.

  8. Use your personal phone and dial *67 prior to dialing number.

  9. Initiate call with Google Meets.

      6.  Documents may be mailed home, if email addresses are not available, or if finalized documents need to be submitted to the Special Education Office.

      7.   KBIT Assessments are currently on hold, due to the need for face-to-face  assessment.

Considerations & Resources

PAIU Continuity of Education Guidance Document

Technology Access

English Language Development

Special Education Processes

Special Ed- FAPE Instruction & Support

Special Ed Guidance

Gifted Education

 Legal Perspectives

Cyber Education

Free Online Resources

Paper and Pencil Resources

 Provide No Instruction

Contacts

Administration

Director of Curriculum/ Professional Development
Mrs. Julie Hopp

Special Education Office
Director: Mr. Aaron Royhab
Asst. Director: Mrs. Cari Boozel

Building Contacts

Center Township Elementary School
Principal: Mrs. Theresa Cherry
Asst. Principal: Mr. Chad Broman

Connoquenessing Elementary School
Principal: Mrs. Hope Hull

Emily Brittain Elementary School
Principal: Mrs. Cassandra Pencek

McQuistion Elementary School
Principal: Dr. Carrie Morgan-Davis

Northwest Elementary School
Principal: Mr. Matthew Martinez

Summit Elementary School
Contact: Mr. Matthew Martinez

Butler Middle School
Principal: Mr. Joshua Hundertmark
Principal: Mr. Jason Huffman

Intermediate High School
Principal: Mr. Stephen Dobransky
Asst. Principal: Mrs. Gretchen Crissman
Asst. Principal: Mr. Harold Dunn

Senior High School
Principal: Dr. John Wyllie
Asst. Principal: Ms. Alecia Beighley
Asst. Principal: Mr. Douglas Ford

Center Avenue Community School
Principal: Mr. Keenan McGaughey

Grade Level Contacts

Kindergarten
Mrs. Cassandra Pencek
Mr. Matthew Martinez

First Grade
Mr. Chad Broman

Second Grade
Mrs. Hope Hull

Third Grade
Dr. Carrie Morgan-Davis

Fourth Grade
Mrs. Theresa Cherry

Special Areas and Reading Specialists
Mrs. Julie Hopp