Danville school officials are purchasing and preparing hardware and software in advance of the scheduled start of the 2020-21 school year this month, one that will include additional remote learning options.

In a letter to parents for the district, superintendent Ricki Boyle this week offered further insight into the district's three-tiered reopening plan unanimously approved by school directors last week.

Under the approved plan, all students would attend class either in school or online, five days a week. The district is in the middle of six information sessions for parents to learn more about the options available.

Over the past eight weeks, the Leadership Team at Danville Area School District (DASD) has been working to develop a comprehensive and inclusive plan for reopening that addresses the needs of our students and families," Boyle wrote. The district's "plan has three distinct instructional approaches that will be enacted based off a combination of guidance from the PA Department of Health, state government officials and the Centers for Disease Control with careful monitoring of conditions in our communities."

School is scheduled to start on Aug. 27.

The tiers include traditional in-person learning, Bridge Model synchronous online learning and the Ironmen Cyber Academy.

Boyle said that John Bickhart, the new director of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology, partnered with Jeffrey Ryan, director of Information Technology to prepare the "hardware and software to enable a system of high quality online learning. Much of the software will be available for the traditional classroom model as well."

In August, faculty and staff will go through six days of professional development centered on the reopening. The training will include overviews of health and safety procedures and protocols, delivering online learning, social and emotional well-being, Title IX requirements, software implementation and effective virtual instruction. 

"A strong focus will be made on teachers’ planning and preparing for teaching and learning in relation to the Bridge and Ironmen Cyberlearning options," Boyle wrote. "Teachers will be doing trial runs for all situations prior to the start of school.

The district has also scheduled five Zoom Academic Informational Meetings with Bickhart, allowing parents to ask questions regarding the three instructional models. The first meeting was Wednesday night.

The remaining meetings will be today, noon-1:30 p.m.; Monday 9-10:30 a.m.; Tuesday 5-6:30 p.m.;  Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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