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S.A. Wants to Provide ‘Equal Playing Field’

By Richard Finch Jr.
The Tube City Almanac
April 29, 2020
Posted in: Liberty Borough News, McKeesport and Region News

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Lisa Duval is “incredibly proud” of teachers and staff in South Allegheny School District.

Duval, the school superintendent, said South Allegheny is not a so-called “1:1” district that already provides a laptop or tablet for every student. That created challenges during the district’s transition to distance learning.

South Allegheny serves more than 1,500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln and Port Vue.

On March 30, South Allegheny began a review process to determine which students had access to electronic devices and Internet service at home, and which did not.

Families without access were contacted personally, and the district developed a plan to make individual work packets available for those students.

The majority of students have online access and an electronic device and are receiving instruction in an online format, Duval said. Distance learning began on April 14, and the district provides “Packet Pick-Up Distance Learning” materials that are picked up and then collected each Monday at meal distribution sites, she said.

It’s “imperative to provide an equal playing field for our students,” Duval said.

As soon as it became clear that students would not back in the classroom soon, district teachers and staff worked to meet the challenges “head on,” she said.

“They began immediately developing a plan for ensuring that all of our students had what they needed to be able to continue their education,” Duval said.

In a March 31 letter to South Allegheny High School seniors, Principal David McDonald said a commencement ceremony is tentatively scheduled for June 5, while back-up dates are on the calendar for July 2 and Aug. 7.

“We want to make sure our graduates receive their diplomas that they have earned in a manner that matches that accomplishment,” McDonald said.

Teachers are working with seniors to ensure all requirements are met for graduation and administrators are working to develop a process for grading that will support all students during the on-going shutdown, Duval said.

Students have access to teachers and support staff between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., she said, but added that faculty and staff “are working well outside of those hours to provide what is needed for our students and families.”

The prom has been canceled at South Allegheny, but the district is working to provide an alternative formal event “when it is safe to do so,” according to the district’s website.

Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer who covers McKeesport Area School District, White Oak and a variety of other topics for Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at finchr43@gmail.com.

Originally published April 29, 2020.

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