August 14, 2020
Dear Methacton School District Parents/Guardians,
I hope that your family and you are doing well. Please find a number of matters of importance to our school community below:
What will virtual school look like for my K-4 child?
On Thursday, August 20, 2020, the Methacton School District is offering a synchronous workshop for parents/guardians of children in grades K-4 to learn what virtual school will look like for your child.
Dr. Deb Euker, Woodland Elementary School Principal, will provide live presentations and will be addressing questions specific to elementary school children’s online experience. She will discuss topics such as setting up a home work station, the daily schedule, structure, assessments, providing assistance, and more. There will be time at the end for answering questions.
We are offering three time options to attend the live presentation on Thursday, August 20, 2020. A recording of one presentation will be posted on the district website for those unable to attend.
Please sign up here. There are 3 sessions available 9:30 am // 2:30 pm // 6:30 pm. The link to attend the event will be emailed to interested participants on Wednesday, August 19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way school districts across the country are delivering instruction. The pandemic has also challenged school districts in so many other ways including transportation services, staffing, access to construction materials, and access to common school supplies and equipment. The Methacton School District, like others across the country, began planning in April to address what has inevitably become a school start online. Although we were proactive in ordering a number of supplies and equipment, we have been challenged, as other districts have, with delays in shipping and production of orders. While we had the foresight to anticipate these challenges and ordered computers in April, we have been notified that we may see a delay in the arrival of Chromebooks and other technology devices that are intended to be issued to every student as part of our K-12 1-to-1 program. While we are working with our vendors on specifics of what this delay entails, we have been told that a shipment of 1,000 plus units ordered in April will likely arrive mid-September. This is about 2 months later than what was projected. I am providing this notice as a means to keep everyone informed. We will be reviewing our distribution processes of computers/Chromebooks and may need to augment the distribution with older units and/or ask our families that are able manage with their personal devices during the delay. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.
In other technology news, Comcast has released a new service that will allow the district to help support families that qualify for free/reduced priced meals to access the Internet at nearly no cost. Look for more information on this new program to be released next week.
Y Care Program Update
As an update from last week’s message – as stated, the YMCA will be providing various care options as a resource to families in the instance they need care for their children during the online school day. The district has worked with the YMCA for a number of years whereby the Y provides before and after school care on premises as a resource for parents. That service and the full day care service now being provided is an arrangement between the family and the Y with rates and programming determined soley by the Y. As a result of schools across the region going all online, the Y has prepared a full day program along with other intermediate care options to help families. The cost is typically $55/day with other pricing options available. The YMCA provides financial assistance to families as well. Registration is now open. For more information please go to https://philaymca.org/yssc/ or contact GPYChildCare@philaymca.org
The Methacton Education Foundation provides assistance to families who are looking for Pre-K care. Based on eligibility guidelines, the Education Foundation provides grants to reduce the financial burden associated with care of younger children.
North Montco Technical Career Center Update
The North Montco Technical Career Center Joint Operating Board will be presented with a plan for returning to school that includes an on premises hybrid option. Their Board meets on Monday evening August 17, 2020, and if approved the district will be prepared to provide student transportation as needed. We will keep our NMTCC parents apprised of these developments.
Non-Public Transportation Update
In terms of transportation, the Methacton School District will be providing transportation services to the North Montco Technical Career Center students and to students of the non-public and private institutions that have elected to do on premises schooling. Parents of these students will be receiving communications in the coming days with bus times and health and safety requirements for students to ride district provided services.
Planning for the Future
In terms of providing more clarity for our families, it should be understood that all students have been enrolled in the Methacton Online program for the first marking period only. Questions regarding continuing in the online only program or other alternatives are planned to be shared in mid-October. As of this writing, there are no other options on the table that parents can or should be considering or need to register for. As such, we are planning to release schedules on or about September 1, 2020 in PowerSchool. More information on schedules to follow from building Principals in the coming weeks.
Methacton Online Update
The district is making considerable progress on matters of importance to the structure and operation of the Methacton Online, related services and support programming. We will be providing parents with greater insight into the typical day based on the sample schedules previously posted. We will also be addressing student accountability and attendance procedures, working to provide social and other student-supported events, the running of clubs and other school related activities in an online/on premises or mixed environment, and providing additional assistance for students in core academic subjects and more. We will be releasing more details in the coming weeks as they become more fully developed.
Arrowhead Elementary School (proposed new construction)
Over the past several months, the administration, teachers, and design professionals have been diligently working towards the realization of a new Arrowhead Elementary School. Commissioned by the Methacton School District Board of School Directors, the administration has brought forward the design team to the public meetings on a regular basis to share with the Board of School Directors and the public the advancement being made towards this realization. It was fundamentally determined that the need for and the condition of the current Arrowhead building requires new construction as compared to a renovation to provide the most suitable environment for learning at the most fiscally responsible means.
The district has advertised in the newspaper and sent post cards to district residents informing them of the state required Act 34 hearing for new school construction. This hearing is scheduled for September 8, 2020 and will be made available on site as well as online in order to accommodate public input. Please know that there is a running history of the process located in the Arrowhead Forward section of the Methacton website – please click here. A recent video of the project can be found here which depicts a rendering of the New Arrowhead Elementary School.
Dr. David Zerbe
Superintendent of Schools