Pottsgrove, Other Resources Supplement Wednesday Town Hall

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Questions, questions, and more questions.

After hearing some specifics during a Wednesday night (July 22, 2020) town hall virtual discussion of two coronavirus-driven return-to-education options proposed by the Pottsgrove School District, its parents said on social media and elsewhere they wanted to drill even deeper for information. The district is offering six different resources to help them find answers they’re hoping for.

But, as members of the district administrative team noted throughout the night, some answers just aren’t available yet … and may not be until the district, its staff, and teachers spend the next 35 days fine-tuning components of each option.

Here’s the resources list:

Pottsgrove’s complete Health and Safety Plan (so far)

Pennsylvania created a uniform questionnaire, a template, that it required all school districts to use in reporting how each planned to re-open and how each would manage accompanying challenges. Pottsgrove’s response to the template resulted as of Monday (July 20) in a 60-page document that was publicly reviewed in extensive detail during Wednesday’s town hall. Find it here.

Superintendent Dr. William Shirk said it represented the eighth and most current draft of its plan. It could change with a variety of conditions, including new guidance from several state and federal agencies.

Town Hall Videos

Two versions of Wednesday’s live-streamed YouTube broadcast – one at 2 hours 45 minutes in length, the other at 2 hours 7 minutes – both are available from the district’s “PGSD Streaming” channel; find it here. The longer version seems to include check-ins of administrative team and school board members as they prepared to go live. The Post has embedded the shorter version, above.

If you were unable to watch or participate in the town hall, consider it recommended viewing.

FAQ Document

What administrators promised will be among its continually updated resources is a “Frequently Asked Questions” document. It organizes questions and answers by category: for example, “Education Options” and “Social Distancing.” It’s been available online since Wednesday at about 3 p.m., according to Pottsgrove Director of Education and Assessment Daniel Vorhis. Find it here.

Community Conversation questions-and-comments database

Pottsgrove tried in early July to get a jump on determining what parents wanted to know about the Health and Safety Plan before it was issued, and opened a database to which any member of the public could pose questions or make suggestions. The FAQ Document (the item above) is devoted in part to answering some of the 144 inquiries posted in Community Conversation as of Thursday (July 23) at 5 a.m. Find them here.

Coming special education town hall

A town hall meeting format similar to Wednesday’s, but specifically intended to address the questions of families whose students are involved in special education programs, will be live-streamed via Zoom on July 29 (Wednesday) beginning at 9 a.m., hosted by district Director of Pupil Services Dr. Kate Pacitto and Supervisor of Special Education Dr. Kyle Kanter. Advance registration for the meeting is offered through School Messenger. Find it, and submit questions as well, here.

In a Facebook description of the upcoming discussion, Pacitto provided this reassurance: “We will be prepared to implement your child’s IEP (individualized education plan) in full,” no matter how a return to education is structured.

Students Rights to Special Education During COVID-19 School Closures

What can you expect, and demand, as education for a special education student when the usual learning delivery channels are disrupted, such as during the pandemic. A three-page state-created document being provided by the district attempts to answer that question. For those planning to attend the special education town hall, it may be helpful to read it in advance. Find it here.

And The Post offers one more resource

Those watching the YouTube version of Wednesday’s town hall did not have an opportunity to view real-time questions and answers being posed by approximately 500 viewers of the same meeting on the district’s Zoom account. That’s because the Qs&As are embedded in Zoom’s software. By the time the virtual meeting ended, more than 400 questions and administration responses had been entered.

The Post tried to capture them all, but could not. It did manage to reproduce about three quarters of the conversations, converted them to text, separated them by item, and saved them otherwise unedited as a PDF document of 31 pages. Find it here.

Ignore the readily evident misspellings and the typographic errors it contains. Typing while also trying to follow a conversation isn’t easy, but most parents managed well. And when they were not directly involved in the online discussion, administrative team members jumped in to answer questions directly.

Photo by Sajad Nori via Unsplash, used under license