Neshaminy School District / April, 2020
IMPORTANT NOTE: Information in this newsletter is current as of Friday, April 24, 2020. Please check the District website or other official sources for updates.
Neshaminy Heroes: Stories from the front lines of Covid-19
Gisela Leair (NHS Class of 1984), Maddie Bidwell (NHS Class of 2015) and Becky Bradley (NHS Class of 2012)
There was a time, only a few weeks ago, that we took for granted that we could quickly visit a doctor, call the police, go to the hospital, or pick up a few groceries on the way home without give much thought to the people who made those things work. If there are any silver linings to be found in the Covid-19 outbreak, one is that we now understand the critical importance of our neighbors who serve us every day as medical professionals, first responders, food service and retail workers, delivery drivers, and many other roles.
Neshaminy is proud that its graduates can be found working on the front lines of the crisis in hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police stations, and virus testing sites. Others (including some current students) are busy keeping the grocery stores open and stocked, providing vital maintenance services, and meeting the everyday needs of our community.
We have been gathering stories about our Neshaminy alumni working on the front lines of the Covid-19 outbreak and sharing them on the District Facebook page. Here is just a small sample of these inspiring stories:
Sharon Demore (NHS Class of 2007)
The first comes from Wayne Demore (NHS Class of 2005) who wrote proudly about his wife Sharon (NHS Class of 2007):
"My wife, Sharon Demore (Class of 2007) is currently the ICU Stepdown Manager at St. Mary's Hospital. She is 7 months pregnant with our first child and gets up at 6am every day to make sure she is present for her nurses during their shift change. For the better part of 2 months she has worked 7 days a week, ensuring that others are okay. If her job isn't stressful enough, she recently lost her grandmother (Not from COVID-19) in the midst of it all. She has hardly taken time to grieve her own loss because she prioritizes the wellbeing of others. This act of selflessness has inspired me."
"During this pandemic she has shown tremendous empathy towards the sick and has been a rock for her nurses. The ebb and flow of emotions is unfathomable for those of us not in healthcare. Her strength and leadership skills were honed within the walls at Neshaminy School District and she is a fantastic representation of what an alumna in this community should be."
Amy (Clark) Kauffman (NHS Class of 2008)
Cadi (Notarfrancesco) Foley (NHS Class of 2009)
Amy and Cadi attended Drexel University, and have been pediatric intensive care nurses at the Children's Hospital of Philadphia since their graduations. They are honored to be on the front lines protecting and treating critically ill infants and children. While Covid-19 has brought on many changes in policies and procedures, they are supported through the advanced science and medicine that CHOP follows from the WHO and CDC.
Shannon Wilson-Stanuikynas (NHS Class of 1989)
Submitted by Margie Sheridan:
"My sister Shannon graduated from Neshaminy High school 1989. She is a medic/firefighter in New Jersey. She was working everyday up to about a week ago, when she tested positive with Covid-19. She is at home quarantined from her family, trying to stay in good spirits and still trying to work remotely doing administrative work for her station. I'm very proud of her and love her very much."
FAQ: Neshaminy School Closure
How do I contact the staff at Neshaminy offices and schools?
Messages can be left on the Main Office phones at each school. Our staff is monitoring these messages remotely and will return your call within 24 hours on weekdays. Teachers and administrators can also be reached via email and student apps.
Can we retrieve personal items from student lockers?
As long as the "stay at home" order is in effect, we are not letting anyone except essential staff into our buildings. We are working on plans to reunite students with their personal and school belongings stored in lockers and other areas but do not have a definite timeline to do so at this point.
Can we retrieve prescription medication for my child that is stored in the school nurse's suite?
Contact the school Main Office or your child’s school principal with your request.
What are the plans for a graduation ceremony at the high school?
We are committed to recognizing the achievements of the Class of 2020 and doing everything we can to schedule an in-person graduation ceremony. Whether that will be possible is uncertain, but at this point we are planning for the best-case scenario and making preparations to hold a ceremony as soon as conditions allow. Other recognitions are also planned online to celebrate our seniors over the next two months and beyond.
A possible date for a graduation ceremony will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming School Board meeting.
Can I still get a Chromebook? How do I get a District Chromebook repaired?
Chromebook repair and distribution request forms can be submitted online here. All repairs and distribution transactions will be made at Neshaminy High School by appointment only.
How do I register a new student?
The Central Registration office is accepting new student registrations online at www.neshaminy.org/register. Families can fill out the online form and then will be contacted with instructions to complete the process.
How can I get a refund for a school trip or activity?
The District is working with travel agents, ticket sellers and event venues to settle accounts for cancelled trips. Affected families are being contacted individually with information. If you have a question about refunds for a particular trip or fundraiser at a school, please contact the school Main Office or your child’s school principal.
How can we get working papers for my teenage student?
Contact you’re the Main Office of your child’s school and leave a message or reach out to your child’s guidance counselor.
Can we use the playgrounds outside school buildings?
No, as long as social distancing restrictions are in place, the playgrounds and recreational equipment should not be used.
Can our team hold a practice on Neshaminy fields?
No, as long as school is closed we are not permitting any practices or games to be held on District athletic fields.
Are the school food pantries accepting donations?
Unfortunately, we are not able to operate the in-school food pantries or accept donations during the closure. Community food pantries are operating and may be able to accept donations. Visit https://www.neshaminy.org/Page/41890 for information about these resources.
What is the status of Summer Stock, Summer School and Band Camp?
Right now these programs remain on the schedule, but this status will be reconsidered at upcoming School Board meetings with consideration of changing Covid-19 outbreak conditions and future government directives. Summer School for the high school may be held online if in-person classes are not possible.
We Got This! Phase III online learning begins
This article originally appeared at BucksCountyEducation.com
The COVID-19 pandemic may have put the brakes on a traditional school year at Neshaminy, but the learning continued almost immediately as the District quickly moved the curriculum online.
With little warning, all Bucks County schools closed on Friday, March 13. Shortly after, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all schools in the Commonwealth closed, and eventually extended that closure to the entire school year.
The Neshaminy Curriculum & Instruction Department jumped into action immediately, developing and implementing a phased Continuity of Education plan to move instruction online. By Monday, March 16, Phase I was posted offering “Broad exploratory learning opportunities” in the form of links to activities that could be completed at home. On March 23, Phase II was implemented, which expanded activities with grade-specific content and course-specific learning opportunities.
Students in grades 5–12 already have approximately 4500 take-home Chromebooks as part of Neshaminy’s expanding 1:1 Technology Initiative. During weeks following the closure, the Technology Services Department distributed over 2100 additional Chromebooks taken from classroom carts for students in grades K‑4 and 11–12. Families registered online to receive their Chromebooks, and picked them up at Neshaminy High School (while staying socially distanced). In addition, they also set up a Chromebook repair service that will be operated throughout the closure while maintaining social distancing procedures. Extra Chromebooks are ready on standby for exchange so families do not have to wait for their device to be repaired.
Neshaminy teachers, administrators and counselors worked for weeks following the closure by phone, Zoom conferences, Google Docs and email across the District to develop Phase III of the plan, which meets all of these criteria. This phase was launched on Monday, April 13, and is the first where all students are expected to participate every school day, and their work counts toward grade-level requirements. Teachers customized lesson plans for their classes and individual students. Programs for gifted and special needs students were developed and implemented at the same time to meet their needs. Students are even offered lessons and activities for “specials” such as art, physical education and music.
Over the past several years, Neshaminy has invested heavily in educational technology, in online educational applications, hardware (Chromebooks) and network upgrades. This gave students an advantage, since they are already used to working online using a variety of educational apps and resources. The District added Canvas, an online learning management system used in the middle schools and high school, to the elementary grades. Canvas offers teachers many tools to plan their lessons online, track student progress and communicate with their students and their parents or guardians. Extending this tool to the elementary grades offers consistency across the District, and a way to organize multiple apps and resources for students in one place.
The goals of Online Learning at Neshaminy during the COVID-19 crisis are:
- No student suffers a long-term negative educational impact
- A phased instructional program roll-out
- The continuation of Neshaminy curriculum
- The continuation of individual classroom/course structures
- The flexibility to accommodate for individual student/family circumstances during the pandemic
- Equitable access for students
Using educational applications such as WeVideo, Clever, Flipgrid and Nearpod, teachers are finding innovative ways to reach their students. Many record short videos to share everything from math and science demonstrations to yoga classes. The learning is “asynchronous,” meaning that students can log in whenever they want during the day and complete the lessons at their own pace. Teachers are available for help and video conferences, and monitor student progress through Canvas and the educational applications.
While both staff and students are eager to return to the classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums, athletic fields and playgrounds as soon as is safely possible, Neshaminy is ready to handle whatever challenges may arise as the COVID-19 outbreak plays out. The schools buildings might be on hold, but the learning will carry on.
Meal Distribution continues
The Neshaminy Food Services Department continues to provide free, nutritious "grab and go" meals three times a week at six locations to any child age 18 or under. No qualification is necessary. They have been averaging 6300 breakfasts and 6300 lunches delivered each week! Thanks to all our food services staff, Aramark, and the Neshaminy custodial and maintenance staff that is supporting their efforts.
Important web links
- Main District COVID-19 Information Center: www.neshaminy.org/covid-19
- Elementary School Learning Opportunities
- Middle School Learning Opportunities
- High School Learning Opportunities
- Fun & Games: Staying Connected Online
- Chromebook Request Form
- Chromebook Repair requests
- Meal distribution information
- School Board virtual meetings
- CRISIS RESOURCES for IMMEDIATE HELP
- Community Resources for Parents and Students
- Bucks County COVID-19 Information Center
School Board Update
The Neshaminy School Board met on Tuesday, April 14 in a virtual meeting that was accessible to the public. A video of the meeting is posted here. Among the items discussed:
- Director of Secondary Education Dr. Rob McGee and Director of Elementary Education Michelle Burkholder delivered a detailed presentation on the progress of the online Continuity of Learning program at Neshaminy. The presentation portion of the meeting can be viewed here. A companion document outlining the Continuity of Education program has also been posted on the District website.
- The Board discussed the budget challenges that will face the District due to declining economic conditions now and in the future due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Further discussions regarding possible adjustments to the proposed 2020-2021 school year budget will be undertaken at future committee and Board public meetings.
- The Board discussed possible school calendar adjustments for the 2019-2020 school year, including making Tuesday, April 28 a regular school day due to the cancellation of the Pennsylvania primary election, and making Friday, June 12 the final day of school for all students in the District. These changes will be considered by the Board at their April 28 Board Public Meeting.
The next Board Public Meeting (virtual) will be held on Tuesday, April 28 at 7 pm. Connection information and schedules for upcoming virtual Board and Committee meetings can be found at www.neshaminy.org/meetings.
Stories from our staff and students, at home and online!
NHS Drama students perform live online
Live...from living rooms, basements and bedrooms all around Neshaminy School District, the Neshaminy HS Roadies are hosting a series of live performances on Facebook every Tuesday evening starting at 8pm. The Counterparts in Hope Facebook group was formed by the students to offer a virtual stage during the Covid-19 closure. They have also been collecting donations for the Bucks County Playhouse, which has offered internships and workshops for Neshaminy students in the past. From the Counterparts in Hope page:
"Though the lights may have gone out on Broadway, theatre perseveres; theatre still lives; theatre still captivates; theatre still inspires. Join us for weekly performances from current and former students alike every Tuesday evening at 8PM on Facebook Live, beginning on Tuesday, April 7th, as we come together as thespians to celebrate our passion for theatre while benefitting local and national arts organizations in need of our help. Any donation amount is appreciated and will go directly to help artists and arts organizations in need during these tumultuous times."
Sharing exercise keeps kindergartners connected
Herbert Hoover Elementary School teacher Olivia Goodwin shared the following example of how her class replaced an important part of their school day:
"My class loved morning meeting. Their favorite part was when they got to share. It was a great way for them to answer a question and listen to everyone's responses. I decided I wanted to continue with that each day with Canvas. I post an announcement each day that says "Monday Share," "Tuesday Share," etc. I then post a video doing our morning greeting. I tell them the weather for the day, and then I ask them the share a question. Monday is always sharing about what they did over the weekend. Tuesday through Thursday varies. The kids then post their own video answering the share, and I respond back to each one. My kids have all said this is their favorite part of logging on to Canvas. On Friday we do an optional Zoom! On our Zoom calls, we greet one another, do a share, and then we read Junie B. Jones (their favorite story time book!). This Friday we are going to play BINGO together!"
Science Q&A celebrates Administrative Assistants Day
To celebrate Administrative Assistants Day on Wednesday, April 22, first grade students working on their science curriculum answered science-related questions posed by the administrative assistants from all six Neshaminy elementary schools. The questions each had drop down answer boxes for the students to choose the best word to describe a solid object. In this photo, Dale Saaybe from Tawanka Elementary School appeared and asked students if they would describe the egg as smooth or rough.
The exercise was organized by first-grade teacher and Canvas lead Leanne Raab from Pearl S. Buck Elementary School. A similar exercise involved all the elementary Principals asking questions for an Earth Day questionnaire.
Sandburg holds a Virtual Spirit Week
In late March, the staff and students at Carl Sandburg Middle School moved their Spirit Week online. Each day, the students shared pictures related to a theme including Pajama Day, Reading Day, Workout Wednesday, and Kindness Counts. The result was assembled into the video above that was shared with the entire school.
Neshaminy Update is published monthly during the school year and distributed to the Neshaminy community via email and web. To submit comments, suggestions or news items for consideration, please email Chris Stanley, Community Relations Coordinator.
Neshaminy School Board of Directors
Stephen Pirritano - President
John Allen - Vice President
Irene M. Boyle
Adam J. Kovitz
Neshaminy School District
Joseph Jones III, Superintendent
2001 Old Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, PA 19047