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Update on Extended School Year (ESY)

We're sure there are many questions related to ESY, as well as the 2020-2021 School Year.

 

Dear PLEA Families

As we cross off the final days of the school year, I wanted to take a moment and reach out to connect with you and reflect back on what was accomplished since we were mandated to close by Governor Wolf on March 13th.  With your participation and collaboration, we were able to pivot from the school-based approach we typically provide, to a telehealth-based approach.  Since then, we have provided hundreds of telehealth sessions, logged thousands of minutes of phone calls and thousands more of zoom calls, created over 125 videos on YouTube, and dropped off supplies and materials for students and families.  We have been able to, as an organization, keep all our staff employed and engaged, so that we are able to support your families during the closure and can ready to reopen our school for your children once it is safe to do so.  While it is easy to lose sight of the reason we closed, it is also important to note, that we have no reports of any PLEA student, direct family member, or staff member becoming ill due to COVID-19 during this time.  I am thankful for all of these things, grateful to the staff who have worked to continue to support families, respectful of how much each family has had to take on, and privileged to have been a part of it.

I am sure there are many questions related to when we will reopen and what it will look like.  There are some questions we can answer and plenty more we are waiting on answers for ourselves.  We will make sure to communicate with all our families as decisions are made at the local, state, and federal levels.

For now, our last day of the 19-20 school year remains 6/9.  We will begin a virtual ESY on 7/6 that will continue through 7/31.  Even as Allegheny County transitions to the “Green” phase, the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control for “lowest risk” is still to proceed with virtual education and telehealth.  I recognize that virtual education and telehealth are difficult and less than ideal.  However, it is the only option available to us to safely support everyone in the immediate future.  We have worked hard over the last two months to create a system that can support families and adapt to your needs and requests.  Please continue to provide feedback and we will continue to do our best to meet your needs.  I would encourage every family to elect to participate in ESY this year, as electing to not participate could potentially impact ESY eligibility in the future.  Additionally, we are currently working with various stakeholders to evaluate plans for providing more ongoing support to cover the gap between the end of the school year and start of ESY as well as the gap between the end of ESY and the start of the 20-21 school year.

PLEA is planning to be up and running as a school-based program for the start of the new school year.  We are currently developing our agency best practices for reopening and coordinating with guidelines and recommendations from government entities, public health officials, and school districts.  Any adopted or new procedures will be relayed home to families prior to the start of the 20-21 school year, and we will work to incorporate feedback from families on how we can further improve and adapt our approach.

With Gratitude,

Aaron Libman

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