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Update Mar. 23: Planning for future instructional needs

Filed in District, District News by on March 23, 2020

A message from Superintendent Jody Monroe: 

Dear BC Family:

As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19/Coronavirus situation, it has become clear that we must be focused on longer-term plans for instruction and support for students and families. For the time being, schools remain closed through March 31. However, it is possible that date could be extended and we are doing what we can as a district to be prepared should that become a reality.

Planning for a possible extended closure

On short notice, and with no training on how to conduct class from home, our teachers have been doing a great job of maintaining meaningful connections with students and sharing resources and assignments to ensure our students do not lose the skills or content they have learned during the 2019-20 school year. Today, I met with our Instructional Leadership Team to discuss how we re-focus these efforts for the long term, adding more structure for students and new instructional content covering key concepts that will allow students to move forward in their learning.

These changes will require planning and coordination by our curriculum experts and a new instructional roadmap for teachers. These are difficult tasks in the most ordinary of circumstances and while we know we can not replicate the classroom experience, we feel confident that our teachers will do what they do best despite the challenges of doing it from home. All students will be expected to participate and your partnership will be needed more than ever to ensure this happens.

We expect many of these changes will be in place the week of March 30 and will be sharing all pertinent information as we proceed.

This is a stressful time for all and we understand the many challenges families are faced with. We want you to know that while our operations have been consolidated to small teams of people at the high school, we still have staff and resources at the ready to help your child and you navigate this difficult situation.

Do you have technology needs?

In order for us to have a more robust instructional program moving forward, we want to be sure that every student has access to technology. We will be sending out a technology survey to determine if there are any existing student needs. Please watch for this survey as it is so important as we move ahead in this work-from-home, learn-from-home environment. We will do everything we can to ensure students who need devices have them at home.

Child care for emergency personnel

Today, the Bethlehem Area YMCA began providing childcare for emergency personnel who do not have the option to work from home. These emergency health care professionals include licensed health professionals such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, LPNs, nurse assistants or laboratory personnel and direct support professionals. Additionally, the YMCA is providing this service to first responders, including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers and firefighters.

The Y is offering financial assistance and if you or a family you know is in need of childcare, please visit the YMCA website at www.CDYMCA.org/EmergencyChildcare or call 518-869-3500.

Free meals available for children M-F

Free “grab-n-go” breakfast and lunch for children 18 and under will continue to be provided by the school district every day, Monday through Friday.

If you participate in the Backpack Program, food that would normally be provided weekly in your child’s backpack will be available every Friday at the high school pick-up spot. If you are having difficulty getting to the high school for meal or backpack pick-up, please email Food Service Director Allissa Eiser at aeiser@bethlehemschools.org or call 518-439-8885.

All info can be found here: https://www.bethlehemschools.org/grab-go-meals-for-children-while-schools-are-closed/

WMHT offering on-air and online educational programming

Our local PBS station, WMHT Public Media, is offering an educational programming block targeted to support in-home learning for students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 while area schools are closed. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, WMHT WORLD will offer programming for students in grades 4-12. Each full-day lineup will cover a range of subjects including science, math, social students, history and literature.

WMHT will also continue to offer educational programming for pre-k through grade 3 students during the day on WMHT-TV and all-day on WMHT’s 24/7 PBS Kids channel and streaming service. For the complete programming schedule, related resources, and additional home learning opportunities, visit wmht.org/homeclassroom

From the Bethlehem Public Library

The online resources that have been shared are not just for schoolwork. Our friends at the Bethlehem Public Library have a list of great digital resources for the entire family. Need to get away? Tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Want to listen to live music? They’ve got a schedule of upcoming online options. Like our schools, the library is closed in order to limit the spread of the virus. We thank them for continuing to provide the BC community with lots to do in our spare time. The list can be found here: http://www.bethlehempubliclibrary.org/digital-resources/

We will keep you informed of all new announcements and information as the week goes on. If you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact me at jmonroe@bethlehemschools.org or at 518-439-7098.

Sincerely,

Jody Monroe

Superintendent