T/E School Board Approves District School Reopening Plan 9-0

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for parents, students, teachers and the administration to figure out what they will need to do for an August 31 start to the 2020-21 school year.

With little state input, TESD like every other school district in Pennsylvania, grappled with its reopening plans. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Gov. Wolf and his administration gave permission to the state’s 500 school districts to restart in-person instruction with a plan approved by the local school board. Sadly, this approach placed the superintendent and school board in a position to make public health decisions where they have no training or expertise.

From masks to buses to recess to sports, the public provided many questions about how the TE School District reopening plan will work.  And based on the questions from the original reopening plan presentation on Monday and then again at the special school board meeting last night, the families in our District are deeply divided as how to proceed. The administration responded easily to some questions from parents but others remained unanswered or with yet-to-be decided responses.

The special school board meeting began Wednesday night at 7:30 PM but unfortunately, the questions from the public did not begin until 11 PM. The ninety minutes of public questions was followed by school board deliberation and vote. In the early hours of Thursday, the school board voted unanimously 9-0 to approve the District school reopening plan as proposed.

In the approved District plan, schools will open on August 31 but with full virtual instruction for at least the first three weeks of school.  There will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.  Parents will be given the option to transition to in-person instruction after Sept. 21 or continue with all virtual instruction.

(For full details about the reopening plan, visit the Tredyffrin Easttown School District website, www.tesd.net ).

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35 Comments

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  1. Thank you for continuing to provide updates, Pattye.
    I fell asleep at some point and missed the comments and board debate, if there was one.
    I don’t think the administration nor board are in an easy position, and maybe they addressed this, but have they been providing teachers with the necessary instruction to facilitate virtual learning from day 1? Some teachers manage technology much better than others. I would hope they are given the tools to make these online platforms organized. I also hope that the virtual learning is much better than the Spring.
    I know so many parents that switched to charter schools for this reason (how is that going to affect this year’s budget???), and I am afraid I am doing my children a disservice by not following suit. I guess we will all see by September 21.

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  2. It passed NINE TO ZERO!?!?!? With only 90 minutes for the hundreds of comments and questions? Without changes? I AM SHOCKED. I am as shocked as finding out that there’s gambling at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca. Shocked. SHOCKED I tell you…..

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    Pattye Reply:

    Yes. Board members asked questions, gave opinions and lamented the difficulty of the decision but ultimately totally supported the administration’s reopening plan. All questions from the public were not read on Monday night (and I’m guess the same thing happened last night) — it was stated up front that they could run out of time. Sadly, whether the questions from the public were read or not probably didn’t matter much — nothing was going to change the outcome of the school board vote.

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    Heather McConnell Reply:

    I did hear Rev. Dorsey criticize those of us who sent “template” letters. What was he more upset about – that we all feel the same way or that parents organized for a cohesive message. Why did he care, since they weren’t read regardless.

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    Liz Mercogliano Reply:

    Please ask the School Board to hire Local infectious disease experts. We hired fence experts, ACA experts for thousands of dollars. The Board is oversight not health care decision makers. Voting in the dark without medical guidance isn’t smart.

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  3. Agree with everyone. The meeting was for show, like all school board meetings except for committee meetings where tax payers may have an influence when we speak up. The Board knew they would all vote yes to the Administrstions plan before the meeting took place. I don’t agree or disagree with the plan. There are so many unknowns, any plan would have been as good or bad as the next. As Dr. Fauci said, “the teachers will be part of the experiment.” We know so little about the way the virus works, life experiences are reduced to “experiments” now. It is what it is. It’s hard for everyone: Parents, students, teachers and Administrators.

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  4. Heather,

    Sadly parents switching to Charter School, Private Schools or Parochial Schools won’t change the school budget at all. As long as you are living in TE you are paying the taxes whether you use the school system or not.

    The jokes on you (us collectively) because now you have the added expense of “additional” education on top of your taxes because your aren’t or can’t use the school system in which you live.

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    Liz Mercogliano Reply:

    There are public school charter on line schools that are funded by tax dollars and now at capacity. PDE has let them speak at their Safely re-opening PA schools.
    So no tuition. Less chance of getting Covid or being a carrier.
    These public cyber schools have certified PA teachers who are apart of a collective bargaining unit. The Cybers also provide special education, behavioralist and support.

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  5. Gov Wolf really tied the hands of all schools in PA. One can hope that those families that want full time IN SCHOOL will have that choice by Jan 2021 and those that choose to do virtual can do so. Time will tell…

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  6. Tina,
    But the district has to pay for charter school. It’s like $12k a kid. They don’t pay for private, but they still have to be for transportation to the private schools (within a radius). Their failure to address and Allie was parents’ concerns from Spring will cost us.

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    Tina Reply:

    Heather,
    You are correct, I forgot about the district having to pay for Charter Schools. I work with a guy in the West Chester SD that just pulled his daughter and enrolled her in WC Charter, it worked best for him and his wife, at least they know what they signed up for the coming year and there won’t be any changes.

    As for the buses, the district is “asking” parents to drive their children to school if they can, I wonder if they will do the same with private school parents?

    If enough people start to pull their kids, especially to Charters, the budget will be affected and the first ones to yell will be the teacher’s union. After the district raises taxes more on us taxpayers to the maximum so that they can to keep their raises and bonus as scheduled, after they reduce services in schools, the next place to cut would be teacher benefits. I think we all know they won’t let happen. Not until then will they maybe start to bend a little on their demands/plans.

    How embarrassing it would be for TESD if an unusually high number of students get pulled to attend Charter/Private/Parochial schools.

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    Have to wait and see Reply:

    Tina,

    I don’t understand your point. How/why would it embarrassing for the District if parents opted for Private/Charter school? They would care about Charter schools because parents pulling their kids from TE and opting for Charter Schools would affect the budget but that’s the only reason they would care. The District takes no pride in the number of students enrolled in our District. Will Gym teachers, librarians etc. still be paid? I bet they will.

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  7. Well, have to say I’m not surprised. Most of us knew how the vote would turn out. Unfortunately, the school board and district are in a no-win situation. Either way the vote went, half of the people would be unhappy with the decision. Sad fact is nobody knows what the correct answer is, as there are so many unknowns. My personal opinion is starting all virtual is best as the district is taking the safest approach. By September 21st we should be able to better understand where Pennsylvania’s numbers are in relation to the spread of Covid. We just all have to continue being vigilant with mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing until we can turn this around. I do feel for the families trying to navigate schooling at home while attempting to work. Not an easy place to be. Hopefully future school plans will include accommodations prioritizing those families that have no choice but to send the kids to school everyday. The district needs to realize that not every family has the luxury or choice to home school. As parents, we are all very polarized on whether or not to send the kids back. We also need to remember that for some families, it is not a choice, it’s a matter of being able to pay your bills and feed your family, or not. Let’s all be kind to each other. We’re all trying to navigate the best we can, given our individual circumstance.

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    Confused Reply:

    DeborahAnn says:

    My personal opinion is starting all virtual is best as the district is taking the safest approach. By September 21st we should be able to better understand where Pennsylvania’s numbers are in relation to the spread of Covid.

    My thought is that starting all virtual was chosen because it’s best for the teachers. I have no problem with it, any action taken is s crap shoot.

    Earlier, commenters asked why teachers weren’t trained in digital teaching tools over the summer. It’s because teacher contracts ensure they don’t have to lift a finger in the summer and you can bet they don’t . Even in a global pandemic/crisis, teachers in TE will not step up and do one thing extra that helps kids and families in this community. The first 3 weeks of all virtual instruction IS the training. They train on your kids time, not theirs. I also believe the Administration will collect and report information that will justify going all virtual in the fall. The first 3 weeks all virtual “trial period” is to soften the blow to parents. Again, I have no problem with the decision.

    DeborahAnn, are you friends with MaryPat?

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    DeborahAnn Reply:

    I don’t know MaryPat. Why do you ask? I do agree with you the that first 3 weeks will be the training but not for the reasons you give. Both my sister and niece are teachers in two different school districts(not ours), my son-in-law is a teacher in a Charter School and my daughter is a paraprofessional. My niece’s school district has had a “cyber school” already in place but training is still lacking. The rest of them are desperate for training. It has not been forthcoming from those in charge. My son-in-law’s school has just started a training program (with Google, I believe) He is one week into a 3 week training course which he must master, then train the other teachers all before school starts. I know everyone always goes back to the contract and how “teachers don’t need to lift a finger in the summer”, but I truly believe most teachers want to know the plan before the first week of school. They would appreciate being prepared. I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say that “teachers in TE will not step up…” A few maybe…My sister teaches 5th grade and she said with the spring school closures she actually spent double the normal time preparing for class because there was no system in place. She still doesn’t know what the plan is for her school district for the end of the month. It seems to be a common theme. Let’s put the blame where it should lie and not always on the teachers. I think the administration was/is waiting to begin because everything keeps changing week to week. They should have concentrated on a decent online learning plan when all this began back in March. They would have had almost 6 months under their belt by now. The teachers have just as many (or more) questions as the parents do and let’s not forget, they are the ones that are going to have to deal with the masks, distancing, recess, meltdowns, etc. It’s not going to be easy for anyone.

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    Not confused Reply:

    DeborahAnn,

    You say: “Let’s put the blame where it should lie and not always on the teachers.”

    I’m not blaming anyone. I’m stating the way it is in TE. Over the years, School Boards have created a culture——through the Administration—— that allows students, parents and tax payers to be treated like second class citizens.

    You say teachers are desperate for training. If teachers wanted training in on line learning this summer, they would have received it.

    Your claims about the altruistic nature of teachers (at least in TE) are not supported by the facts. Look what happened when Pattye posted a letter from the VP of the teachers union to teachers which parents have a right to have access to. She received an intimidating call from the teacher!

    Liz Mercogliano Reply:

    There are teachers who are doing well with on line teaching and have worked and trained over the summer. On learning has specific apps like canvass. TE has had a technology committee with great enthusiastic teachers sharing various teaching plans and technology when I was on the board.
    It is not rocket science.
    The criticism of teachers not being online users and teachers is not the total truth.

    Not Confused Reply:

    Liz,

    Who are the teachers who have worked and trained in on line learning? Was the training District sponsored by the District? or self training? How do you know there was training?

    Because they told you?

    In TE, when a Committee is formed, all members of the committee are chosen to participate by the Administration. There is no input or oversite from citizens, parents, taxpayers or students who were not asked to participate by the Administration. The Administration chooses participants who are financially dependent on the District or who have no real interest or knowledge in the area, so they don’t know what questions to ask, have no real interest so go along with everything the Administration wants. As you say above, the technology committee is made up of teachers who report whatever they want to report to the Board, and the Board believes everything they say.

    If what I’m saying isn’t true, why won’t the Administration allow volunteers (true volunteers) to participate on committees?

    Because they want NO accountability.

    All the Board knows is what the Administration tells them. As you say above, “its not the total truth.”

    Ask questions to the people Administrator/Board decisions, actions affect the most——the students. And I’m not talking about Administrator administered surveys with results delivered to the Board by the Administration.

    Liz Mercogliano Reply:

    Covid numbers will fluctuate per restrictions. If people wear masks, limit large gatherings and get tested with fast results is the only way so far to control it somewhat.
    Hospitals are getting better at treating Covid patients because of safe practices under the guidance of Clinical infection disease experts and in collaboration with clinical nurse and physicians.
    COVID won’t just go down in numbers then go away.
    Schools will be breeding grounds for rapid spread as seen in recent days.

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  8. The District loves it when angry, dissatisfied parents who expect basic services for their children take their kids out of TE and enroll them in private school. This ensures teachers and Administration don’t have to deal with the kid, and especially the parents anymore. Furthermore, the District still gets the tax dollars from the family sending their kid to private school. It’s a double win for the District. I would even speculate that the District treats families in ways that encourages them to choose private school over TE.

    As far as the District plan for reopening:

    There is no good answer.

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  9. Administrators and teachers in TE take credit for our school districts high ranking and outstanding students’ achievements.

    I don’t know if it’s true or not, but someone commented on an earlier essay that School Board Director, Kyle Boyer is working as a teacher in the Norristown School District because he had to resign his position in the TESD when he became a Director here. (Absolute insanity).

    If this is true, I was wondering Kyle, TE is ranked higher in the state than Norristown School District. Has there been a difference in your students test scores since you’ve been teaching there? If all TE teachers were to switch school districts and work in the NASD, and the NASD teachers were to switch and work in the TESD, would our rankings match Norristowns ranking now and would Norristowns ranking climb to what TE’s ranking now? Just curious.

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    Reality check Reply:

    I’m an educator having working in TE and left for another school. There are many reasons teachers leave TE. The staff in TE are very cliquey and not accepting to new ideas. Teachers usually leave to work somewhere they can make a real difference. There is way more factors to high test scores than teachers.

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  10. Not Confused,
    No one “has a right” to see a confidential email.
    (I know that Pattye never would have published it had the person who forwarded it included the confidentiality statement).
    Teachers are not your enemy here. There are a lot of general statements being presented as facts. “Teachers don’t lift a finger in the summer” etc. I’m sorry if you’ve had bad experiences with some teachers, but to lump all and judge so rudely doesn’t make you right. Unless you are a teacher, you don’t know what they are doing. To state what is/isn’t happening when you don’t actually know is spreading misinformation and judgment, without any facts.

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    Not Confused Reply:

    Me,

    You say: “ I’m sorry if you’ve had bad experiences with some teachers,”

    Thanks for the sentiment but an apology without change is just a manipulation. We need a real culture change in this District where teachers/Administrators are not allowed to bully, harrass, make fun of, tear down and humiliate students on a DAILY basis!

    After decades of this, “I’m sorry” (and you’re not sorry, and neither are they). doesn’t cut it. We need to elect Board members who understand they are NOT extensions of the Administration.

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    Me Reply:

    Not Confused,
    Please do not tell me that I’m not sorry. If I said it, I meant it. No one should have to endure what you described. I am in no position to change any of those things. But I can tell you I’m sorry about what you’ve experienced.
    Not everyone is against you. Some of your comments are becoming a bit aggressive.

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    Not confused Reply:

    Me,

    You say: “I am in no position to change any of those things.”

    Not true, if you live in this District and especially if you work in this District——I believe you do——-you are in a position to change anything.

    The Administration/Board Teachers count on your fear and they especially count on your apathy.

  11. An alternate opening:

    Unionville-Chadds Ford School District approves plan to hire 21 new teachers to facilitate safe return of students to the classroom

    ● Grades K-3, in school five days a week with class sizes reduced to 12 youngsters per class:

    ● Grades 4-12, six-day educational cycle, with students in school two days per cycle;

    ● All parents have the option choosing 100 percent virtual learning for their children

    https://www.dailylocal.com/news/unionville-chadds-ford-school-district-approves-plan-to-hire-21-new-teachers-to-facilitate-safe/article_033a3b3a-d6a8-11ea-a162-db6945b13923.html

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  12. Keith Knauss, (former School Board Director and frequent commenter on CM)

    I was in the grocery store today and noticed the headline on the front page of the Daily Local newspaper. The article revealed that citizens in UCFSD are banding together to stop the School Board from voting to change the UCFHS mascot from Indians to something else. The vote is August 24.

    The pandemic may be increasing protest attendance because people have had more free time, because they may not be able to work and a variety of social outlets have been banned. People have been hurt financially by coronavirus (except for TE teachers and Administrators) and I have noticed an increase in this type of action in your District.

    Could you please comment on this and give us an idea about how this is affecting your community. I would also enjoy hearing your opinion on it. Thanks

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  13. I have noticed an increase in this type of action in your District.

    Correction:

    I have noticed an increase in this same type of action in all areas of the country.

    [Reply]

  14. I hadn’t heard anything about the mascot controversy until I read the Daily Local, too. Therefore, I can’t offer anything but a personal opinion – there are much more important matters to attend to, like how to open schools safely and effectively, than choosing a mascot. It could be that Cousins, a lawyer, is misusing the legal system by filing a lawsuit that he knows he can’t win as an advertising vehicle.

    I listened to about an hour of resident comments. While there were reservations about the plan all but one of the commenters were appreciative of the work that went into the plan and the transparency displayed. I haven’t heard of any organized effort on the part of the public to change the plan. I sense a high degree of trust in the board and administration.

    [Reply]

    To be fair Reply:

    Thanks Keith, good insight to consider.

    It sounds like you get your information and formulate your ideas, perceptions and beliefs on information you get from the District and from newspapers. I do too but I also talk to many citizens on a daily basis. I understand one persons experiences attitudes and beliefs are not representative of an entire community but I try to talk to enough so to recognize patterns and get a feel for what’s most important for residents.

    I don’t comment on what people say on CM but I want to report that I spoke to a parent today who told me she had a good experience with on line learning. She said she thought the District did a great job especially with the short amount of time they had to respond to the closure of schools and she said her kids performed better with on line learning than in class learning. I know she’s only one person but she’s the first parent I’ve talked to who reported a good experience.

    Talk to your neighbors and friends and report back. It matters.

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  15. Not Confused,
    The district has been offering training and the teachers have been participating. You are wrong in your negative and general statements about teachers.

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    Not Confused Reply:

    Readers (and me)

    See what I mean? In the past 5 to 6 months, there has been no mention of teachers receiving training in on line learning. Yet, “Me” makes the ridiculous claim on August 7th that they have been receiving training in on line learning. This is the same tactic Administrators use,——- make a ridiculous statement——— no matter how unbelievable it is, offer no evidence, proof or context to the claim and end the matter with the statement:

    “I’m not going to say another word about it.”

    Citizens, pay attention, watch and report.

    [Reply]

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