UPDATES from the Superintendent Regarding the Coronavirus and School Closures

Message Sent March 25, 2020
Good evening students and families,

I hope all of you are healthy and well. This evening, I am providing you with a very important update. On Tuesday, the following information was released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
 
“The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day.”

What does that mean for West Shore students?  After carefully considering PDE’s announcement and reviewing our approved school calendar, students would return to school on Tuesday, April 14. It is not my intent to use April 9 as a make-up day or to revise the calendar to consider using other days we are scheduled to be off. Of course, this return date is dependent on whether or not the closure is extended by PDE. 

With that in mind, it’s time to initiate our plan for continuity of education. After working with staff and receiving additional guidance from PDE, we are ready to begin distance learning for Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade, starting on Monday, March 30. Our goal is to provide students and families with learning opportunities they can do at home. These activities are not meant to replace daily classroom instruction, and while we are encouraging all students to do their best to complete the assigned material, it will not be graded. Teachers will however be providing feedback to students that will help them with retention of already taught material and new material that will be presented.

Elementary and Middle School teachers are providing two distance learning options. One option requires the use of technology, and the other option does not. Families may choose the option that works best for everyone at this time. Books and materials were sent home with students on Friday, March 13.  If your child was absent that day or did not bring the necessary materials with them, please remind your teachers so they can provide support. 

High School students have District issued Chromebooks with the ability to work offline or online.  On March 24, parents received a phone call and email message with information about no-cost or low-cost internet from area providers. This information is also posted on the Parent Portal of the District website (blue parent button). Families who do not have access to the internet or who are unable to connect with a provider are asked to contact Mr. Vogelsong at [email protected], and we will work directly with you to provide support.

Your child's classroom teacher is your best resource to help you with the work he/she is asking to be completed. However, we have created a special Distance Learning portal on our website to assist families and students with the transition to Distance Learning.

https://www.wssd.k12.pa.us/DistanceLearning.aspx

This page will be updated throughout the closure, and contains answers to frequently asked questions, suggested schedules, technology support links, and information about other services being provided by the District. Information is also included regarding the marking period, which at this time is highly dependent upon the duration of the school closure.

We will begin Distance Learning with a suggested 2.5 hours per day of learning for all students K-12 so everyone can acclimate to this new approach. It is important for all of us to be flexible and work together as we navigate these new waters. 

I know the coming weeks may prove difficult in many ways, especially for our families with multiple children, working parents, and technology issues. At the heart of what we are trying to do for our children during the closure is to keep our community safe and our students engaged. I want to personally thank you for your support and partnership toward that goal. As this situation continues to evolve, I will provide additional updates.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Todd

Todd B. Stoltz, Ed.D. 
Superintendent
[email protected] 
#WestShoreProud


Message Sent March 22, 2020
Good afternoon students, staff, and families,

Following the order to close schools, I have worked diligently to provide you with timely and meaningful updates, even when I didn’t know all of the answers to your questions. In response, you have shown District employees at all levels your support and appreciation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and prayers, words of encouragement, offers to help, and for providing us with meaningful feedback. This week reinforced what I already knew…we have amazing employees serving an amazing community!

By today, I was hopeful I would have details to share with you regarding the status of our closure beyond Friday, March 27, but in many ways that is beyond my control. What I can share, is what we have done that is within our control.

On Tuesday, March 17, we began meal service for all children under 18. By Friday, we had provided 4,630 meals to children. This service will continue next week but would not be possible without our food service team preparing those meals and staff volunteers helping to distribute them. I would also like to give a shout out to Fishing Creek Salem United Methodist Church for partnering with us to create a satellite site at the Budget Inn in New Cumberland. As this situation continues to develop, we are anticipating an even greater need for meals, and we continue to look for ways to expand our service so no child goes hungry during the school closure. Please be sure to visit our website for updates and a current listing of all our Grab-and-Go Bagged Meal locations. 

In addition to meals, we continue to find creative ways to meet the many other needs of our school community. We have encouraged our teachers, counselors, and other school staff to use platforms such as Seesaw, Schoology, Google Classroom, and Zoom to stay connected with each other and their students. When our lives are turned upside down, we quickly start to miss the routines of our normal lives, and I believe interacting with people we know from school helps restore some normalcy. 

We are still waiting for further clarification and direction from the state about what “continuity of learning” means and should look like. In the meantime, I know many teachers have provided resources for their students and parents. I recognize these resources do not replace classroom instruction, but it is our hope they will help parents and students explore learning in new ways. You will be receiving more information from your child’s teacher(s) this week in relation to meaningful, optional activities you can do from home.  Additionally, in the event of an extended closure, we have asked teachers and professional staff to prepare lessons and assignments for each grade and subject level in order to provide a greater degree of continuity of learning. More details about how this modified schedule will look for your child (and you) will be sent later this week. 

On a final note, as each day of this pandemic passes, we are confronted with sadness and despair about what was lost or may be in jeopardy of being lost. Aside from worrying about basic needs being met, we worry about what will happen with the end of the marking period, student grades, musicals, spring sports, concerts, field trips, prom, graduation, etc. Your concerns about our ability to offer these, in some instances, once in a lifetime events, is understandable. I wish I had a definitive answer for each one of them, but I do not. However, I will leave you with this. As we continue down this uncharted path, we will do our best to postpone these moments that students looked forward to and worked to achieve and not cancel them.  

Again, I want to thank you for your support this past week and as we move forward. Stay healthy and be well.

Sincerely,

Todd

Todd B. Stoltz, Ed.D.
Superintendent
[email protected] 
#WestShoreProud

 
 
Message Sent March 18, 2020
Good afternoon students and families,

As I mentioned in my email on Monday, to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and community, effective today, March 18, 2020, building access has been restricted to all non-essential staff, students, and community members. 

Additionally, we are asking for your cooperation in the use of our outside facilities, such as the tracks at both high schools, district athletic fields, playgrounds, and other areas where large public gatherings could occur. At this time, those spaces will remain open, but we strongly recommend you follow the restrictions and recommendations given by government agencies to limit gatherings of groups of people and to maintain social distancing. We will continue to monitor the use of these spaces as they relate to government restrictions and look forward to your continued cooperation if further restrictions are needed.

Even though our schools and offices are closed, our staff remains committed to working hard each day on behalf of our students, their families, and our community. One example of that is our Grab-and-Go Bagged Meal program which has provided over 700 bagged meals to children in our community already this week.  We look forward to continuing this program throughout the closure and are grateful to our food service department, staff volunteers, and community members providing transportation to those in need who have contributed to its success.

On that positive note, please know I will continue to email you with updates as they become available. Thank you for your ongoing understanding and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Todd

Todd B. Stoltz, Ed.D.
Superintendent
[email protected]
#WestShoreProud

 
 
Message Sent March 16, 2020
Good evening students and families,

This morning, the central office team and I participated in a session with our solicitors and other area school districts. After reviewing the guidance of numerous federal and state agencies and considering the evolving nature of this situation, we have decided to suspend all educational assignments and activities minimally through Friday, March 27, or until such time there is additional guidance for schools to ensure we can provide all students with a free appropriate public education. Given the timeframe provided, we could not ensure that all students would have equal access to curriculum and resources. 

However, we can ensure our students have access to meals. Starting tomorrow, the District will be offering free Grab-and-Go bagged meals including a breakfast and lunch at four sites (Allen, Hillside, Newberry, and Washington Heights).  The program will run Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Like the summer meals program, these sites are open to all children 18 and younger.  Additional information about this program can be found at the bottom of this email.

Access to Buildings
On Tuesday, March 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., access to all District buildings will be available for staff, students, and/or parents who need to retrieve personal items and medication. Building administrators will be onsite to assist. Please limit the time spent in the schools to minimize possible exposure to other families. Beginning Wednesday, March 18, all schools will be closed to everyone except essential staff.  

Assignments & State Testing
Today, we shared with staff that no new assignments or activity suggestions are to be given during the closure. We have asked teachers who have posted and distributed assignments in advance to let their students know these assignments do not need to be completed during the closure. This time may be used by students who would like to complete and submit missing assignments or review previously taught concepts. District and outside resources remain available for students to pursue independent learning.  

Students and staff in dual enrollment courses should follow the expectations set by the college or university.

At this time, PSSA and Keystone Exams are still slated to be given during the 2020 administration dates. The Advanced Placement (AP) exam remains as scheduled for schools that will be open on May 4–8 and 11–15, with late testing scheduled for May 20–22. Additional information can be found on their website (click here).

We all value the continuity of learning for students and do not want you to feel discouraged by the direction to suspend educational assignments and activities through March 27.  Teachers and school staff will remain available throughout the closure. As a reminder, teacher email addresses are readily available in PowerSchool by clicking on the envelope icon.

Calendar Adjustments
The end of the marking period, parent conferences, kindergarten orientation, etc. will be adjusted accordingly and are highly dependent upon the duration of the school closure. It is too soon to consider any impact the closure may have on end-of-year activities such as prom, field trips, concerts, graduation, etc.

I know the coming weeks may prove difficult in many ways. At the heart of what we are trying to do for our families during the closure is to keep our community safe. Thank you to everyone who has extended offers of support. As this situation continues to evolve, I will provide additional updates.

Sincerely,

Todd

Todd B. Stoltz, Ed.D.
Superintendent
[email protected]
 

The West Shore School District will offer Free Grab-and-Go Bagged Meals for children starting Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 27 from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, at four designated locations. Lunch for that day and breakfast for the following day will be included in each bag. Similar to the summer meal program, all children 18 and younger are welcome to participate. No questions will be asked; however, following current federal guidelines children must be present to receive the bagged meals.

Children may walk to the Grab-and-Go locations or families may take advantage of our curbside service (meals will be delivered to your vehicle by school staff).

If driving, please remain in your vehicle and use extreme caution when arriving and leaving to ensure the safety of other participants. As a reminder, during this time building and school facilities (including playground equipment) are closed.

Grab-and-Go Locations

Allen Middle School
4225 Gettysburg Road, Camp Hill, PA  17011
Please enter using Gettysburg Road and proceed toward the Slate Hill exit. Staff will be distributing meals near the kitchen dock area.

Hillside Elementary School
516 Seventh Street, New Cumberland, PA  17070
Please enter using the Seventh Street entrance and pull into the fire lane. Staff will be distributing meals near the picnic tables.

Newberry Elementary School
2055 Old Trail Road, Etters, PA  17319
Please enter using Old Trail Road and proceed around the back of the school. Staff will be distributing meals near the kitchen and gymnasium doors.  

Washington Heights Elementary School
531 Walnut Street, Lemoyne, PA  17043
Please enter using the Seventh Street entrance and follow the road around the loop. Staff will be distributing meals near the stop sign in front of the building’s side entrance.

Please know we are looking for ways to expand this program and are researching other avenues we use to ensure no child goes hungry during the school closure.  As federal restrictions change, look for updated information from the District.

Message Sent March 15, 2020
Good afternoon students and families,

First, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the outpouring of support following Friday’s message that our schools would be closed through Friday, March 27. Your patience and understanding during this time has been greatly appreciated.

Because this is an unprecedented and ever-changing issue, I am receiving new information and updates multiple times a day.  At this time, I am working to clarify some of the latest guidance for schools and want to make sure I understand federal and state expectations and any implications they may have on District decisions. Tomorrow, I will be participating in a coronavirus question and answer session with surrounding Districts, our solicitors, and members of the District central office administration. Following that session, it is my intent to provide a more detailed update for families and staff.

In the meantime, I appreciate the valuable questions and feedback we have received via email and social media about things to consider, such as medications that may be at school and meal service. We have also heard concerns about school assignments. As I mentioned previously, this remains an evolving situation, and we intend to release additional information later in the day tomorrow about educational expectations during the closure. Please continue to share your feedback and ask questions; we are listening! Stay tuned and please enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Sincerely,

Todd

Todd B. Stoltz
Superintendent
[email protected]


Message Sent March 13, 2020
Good afternoon West Shore students, staff, parents, and community,

Thank you for your patience in awaiting an additional update on our response to coronavirus (COVID-19). As stated yesterday, there are NO known cases associated with our school district at this time.

Following the Governor’s announcement, all schools in the West Shore School District will be closed from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020. All extracurricular, athletic events/practices, and after-school events will be cancelled during this same timeframe. It is our hope to reopen schools on Monday, March 30, 2020.

In the next few days, we will continue our planning and preparation for delivery of flexible instructional activities for students. In addition to any curricular planning, there are many logistical and operational factors to be considered that affect students, employees, and the community. For example, we are actively working to ensure there are opportunities for students to have access to meals while schools are closed. As we develop our plans for the next two weeks, you can expect additional communication.

Student and staff safety remains our top priority. As always, I appreciate your questions, and I will continue to be transparent through this process. I encourage you to visit our website and follow us on social media for updates.

Sincerely,

Todd

Todd B. Stoltz
Superintendent
[email protected]
 

Message Sent March 12, 2020
Good afternoon West Shore students, staff, parents, and community,

With so much information being shared in the media and online related to coronavirus, I wanted to personally reach out to you to provide an update on District preparedness and to share my perspective on a potential response to this ongoing public health concern.

I, and the District as a whole, have always placed student and staff safety at the top of our priority list. With that in mind, I want to assure you we are working closely with county, state, and federal emergency management agencies to be proactive in our decision-making and to keep abreast of developments as they relate to the coronavirus. As I write this, there are no known cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) associated with the District. If, or perhaps more realistically when, we are faced with a confirmed instance of coronavirus in our school community, we will follow the guidance provided by these agencies to respond accordingly and in the best interest of all who visit our schools.

Beyond the day-to-day learning that takes place in our schools, we provide many necessary supports to our students. I will continue to follow the guidance from national, state, and local health agencies regarding school closures, and as a District, we will work diligently to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff while doing everything we can to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  I ask in turn, that you continue to take precautions to lessen the spread of germs and reinforce good hygiene at home. Teaching children positive preventive measures and giving them a sense of some control over their risk can help reduce anxiety.

Based on the Governor’s address this afternoon, I intend to follow his recommendation to cancel/postpone after-school events expected to attract 250+ attendees for the next two weeks. Additionally, we are reviewing all trips planned in the upcoming weeks, including their destination and number of attendees, to determine if students will be permitted to attend. We are expecting to receive additional guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education tomorrow.

On numerous occasions in my tenure, whether it was related to student tragedy, mold, or inclement weather, I have received your support and trust. I want you to know how much that trust is appreciated and to thank you for your support as we navigate the coronavirus.  It is my intent to remain transparent with you and our school community as the situation evolves, and I encourage you to visit our website and follow us on social media for updates.  Lastly, as is always the case, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
 
Todd

Todd B. Stoltz
Superintendent
[email protected]

Back
Print This Article
© 2020. West Shore School District. All Rights Reserved.
School CMS Created by eSchoolView
Site Map
View text-based website