BRODHEADSVILLE — Pleasant Valley School District has answered the biggest back-to-school question, deciding that students will engage in a hybrid model of learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But what will that actually look like? How long will it last? What about the fully virtual Pleasant Valley Cyber Academy?
The school district held a two-hour town hall meeting via Zoom on Monday evening to answer questions from parents. The district is still taking additional questions and has a Frequently Asked Questions list under the COVID-19 tab at www.pvbears.org.
Below is a selection of questions and answers from the Monday town hall.
Q: What will instruction look like on the days students are learning remotely?
A: This will "depend on the class and also the teacher," said middle school principal Jason Van Voorhis. Learning will be asynchronous, meaning teachers won’t be teaching live. Instead, it will mostly be "prerecorded videos or created assignments and projects." That’s because "devices are limited" and a family with multiple children may not be able to have all of them in live lessons at the same time.
Students in kindergarten through third grade will use the platform Seesaw, and fourth grade on up will use Google Classroom and Schoology, added elementary principal Roger Pomposello.
Q: How long will the hybrid schedule last? Will the district reevaluate after the first quarter, or is this the plan for the whole school year?
A: "We will be evaluating as we go," Superintendent Lee Lesisko said.
He added that "the nice thing about doing it this year is we have experience from last year and we can make things better" and teachers have a better idea of what works.
Q: Both parents in our family work full-time and our kindergarten student will be in daycare during the day. Can we work with her on school during the evening?
A: Yes, there will be a "time delay" as to when schoolwork is due, Pomposello said, to give flexibility to families with multiple students, or to make sure parents of younger students have time to work with them.
Q: How will outside services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy work?
A: Pleasant Valley’s speech pathologists will still work with all students whose IEPs include speech services, said Julie Harris, director of pupil services. Other contracted out services will be provided on the days students are in the buildings, and therapists "will do their best to do what they can through teletherapy" online, though the "full gamut" of services may not be available that way. "But their services will be met," Harris said.
Q: Will students go to special area classrooms?
A: The plan is currently for these teachers to travel to homeroom classrooms, rather than having the students move rooms, Pomposello said.
Q: If my child goes to Pleasant Valley Cyber Academy, can they still take the same classes, including AP classes? Can students keep the same classes if they go back to in-person classes? Can they participate in sports?
A: Yes, the same classes are available, Lesisko said. (Something hands-on like a sculpture class would be an exception.) If students switch back to in-person, they’ll need to do so at the end of a quarter, and will have the same classes.
PV cyber students can participate in sports. Lesisko advised the parent asking this question to "let the coach know that he’s in cyber so he’s not forgotten."
Q: What if a student starts on the hybrid schedule, but then feels uncomfortable and wants to switch to cyber? Does this have to wait until the end of the quarter?
A: No, students making the switch in this direction do not need to wait. "It’s a click of a mouse button," Lesisko said.
Q: Is there a maximum number of students that can go to the cyber academy?
A: No, Lesisko said.
Q: My child is mildly asthmatic. Can students take off masks when they are 6 feet apart, or do they need to keep masks on all day?
A: "We need to sit down and talk about it," Lesisko said. The district’s initial plan allowed students to take masks off when 6 feet apart, but that may change.
Rajika Reed, a St. Luke’s epidemiologist in the meeting, said, "Our recommendation is definitely to have kids stay masked through the day." If breaks are needed, ideally they should be outside.