Crawford Central School District is putting its students back to work.

Following announcements by other local school districts Tuesday, Crawford Central contacted district families Wednesday regarding distribution of at-home work for students who won’t be back in their usual buildings until at least April 9.

“This is an opportunity to keep our students involved and engaged,” Superintendent Tom Washington said, “keep their minds engaged and working so that when we come back, they're ready to go.”

The work provided to students will not be for a grade, Washington said.

“What we are doing is reviewing and reinforcing learning that has happened up to this point,” he said.

Should the closure be extended further, the district would likely attempt to introduce new learning, according to Washington.

Delivery of the review materials will be primarily online, but families without internet access will be able to pick up traditional packets at designated times this week. Middle and high school students who need to pick up their district-issued laptop devices, school books or other items from lockers will be able to do so during designated periods today and Friday.

Entry to the buildings “will be limited to 10 students at a time to ensure social distancing,” according to a letter from principals posted to the district Facebook page. Pick up of packets at all district schools will be a drive-through similar to the meal distribution, Washington said.

In addition, Meadville Area Senior High joined Cochranton Junior-Senior High in offering Wednesday hours for its guidance office to offer transcript processing and other services for seniors in the process of applying to colleges.

“I’m proud of our building leaders, proud of our teachers and staff,” Washington said. “Everybody understands that nothing is perfect at this point. We’re dealing with a crisis that is nationwide, and we’re trying to do our best.”

The next steps for the district are clear as students collect needed materials today and Friday and staff prepare for distribution of packets beginning Friday, when the same material is expected to be available online as well. Beyond that, numerous questions remain, according to Washington.

The questions range from the obvious — when will students return to their school buildings? — to the obscure concerns of administrative logistics: How many days will make up the current school year? When will the third quarter end — and how will grades for that quarter be figured given the extended closure and loss of at least 10 school days from the calendar? If the closure is extended again and new work must be completed at home, how will teachers grade it?

It’s too soon to answer other questions likely on the minds of both parents and district staff, such as what will become of the off days scheduled before and after Easter weekend. The extended closure is scheduled to continue through April 6, followed by two days for staff to prepare for students to return. Students could then return on April 9 except that Crawford Central, like many districts, has a previously scheduled off-day that day and the next, followed by a weekend and another off-day.

April 9 and 13 had been designated as make-up days for cancellations, which usually come in the form of snow days, Washington said. Days missed due to the pandemic closure are not being treated the same as snow day cancellations, however, and it appears they will not be required to be made up.

“I don’t know what the direction (from state education officials) is going to be,” Washington said, “but it’s premature to say that we’re going to have those days as holidays." 

If using the off-days before and after Easter weekend would help avoid extending the end of the school year, he said, it would make sense to do so.

In the meantime, the superintendent offered advice for students gearing up to get back to work: “Be encouraged, stay encouraged,” he said. “Stay healthy.”

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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