Pine-Richland holds off on option for flexible instruction days - PineCreek Journal

Pine-Richland holds off on option for flexible instruction days

Thursday, August 15, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law earlier this summer that will allow Pennsylvania school districts to have students learn from home versus canceling school completely for snow days or other reasons, but Pine-Richland won’t be jumping on board just yet.

The “flexible instruction days” could include online or offline learning, or both, and could only be used five times per year. The benefit, proponents say, is that it will eliminate the need for make-up days at the end of the year. Districts aren’t compelled to take part, however, and will need to apply for permits from the state Department of Education that would be good for three years in order to offer flexible instruction days.

For now, administrators at Pine-Richland are taking a wait-and-see approach.

“Pine-Richland School District would like to monitor the effectiveness of flexible instructional days at other school districts this year to determine whether the district should consider it in the future,” superintendent Dr. Brian Miller said. “By taking time to evaluate, the district can address: one, quality of learning; two, continuity of content; three, access by all students; and four, timeline to complete a thoughtful and detailed plan should the district apply.”

In order for a district to be approved to use flexible instructional days, they will have to show how they’ll implement the program, how they’ll count attendance and how they’ll account for the discrepancy in or lack of technology that students might possess at home.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) after a three-year pilot program involving 10 districts across the state including Blackhawk, Elizabeth Forward and Seneca Valley.

Last year, districts including Fox Chapel Area, New Kensington-Arnold and Deer Lakes either shortened their spring breaks or added time at the end of the year to make up for snow days.

In other news:

  • Donald Palmer will be the new solicitor for Pine-Richland School District, replacing Patrick Clair, who retired this summer after 30 years of service to the district.
  • Home Access is now open for parents of Pine-Richland students to view bus information, classroom placements and course schedules for the school year via the district’s website. The first day of school for Pine-Richland students is Aug. 22.