On March 13th, 2020 Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf made the difficult decision to close schools for a two week period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school closure is now effective throughout the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This mandated closure affected our three alternative high schools for disruptive youth: Compass Academy Mt. Carmel; Lycoming and Schuylkill. We are, of course, disappointed not to be able to continue our schools as usual, our greatest goal was to be able to continue our students’ education. Compass Academy teams rallied to quickly a design a distance learning model which was submitted and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth.
Distance learning is occurring for all our students at all three Compass Academy sites. Compass Academies currently serve students from 28 districts. Teachers, counselors, and behavior interventionists have set up zoom classrooms, phone call office hours and sessions, along with distribution of hard copy packets to those students who may not have the resources to make online learning happen. JusticeWorks has loaned laptop computers to some students in need of technology to complete coursework.
Our hard-working teachers have created websites (compassschuylkill.blogspot.com) and are using online programs, such as Jupiter Ed and IXL, to track attendance and post assignments and grades. While we may not be in our normal classrooms, we continue to strive to actively engage our students and their families. During this exceptionally challenging time, our caring school staff have made efforts to help students’ families obtain meals and to identify other resources for them.
We have been impressed with students’ eagerness to stay in school, remotely, and how seriously they are taking this new form of learning. Naturally, many want to discuss the current crisis and our teachers and support staff are good at helping answer their questions and concerns. Naturally, we also focus on promoting safe social distancing practices and help them to be calm and look forward to a better future.
We look forward to the day when our buildings can be opened, and our students and staff can physically work together. Compass Academies’ will always do whatever it takes to provide excellent education while helping students improve their behavior.
We very much appreciate our school districts for their continued cooperation and partnership. We are most appreciative of the Pennsylvania Legislature and Governor Wolf for passing SB751 which has assured continued funding for the school year.