BOE reviews remote learning plans, postpones budget talks

PINE PLAINS — In keeping one another informed during the current health crisis, the Pine Plains Central School District Board of Education (BOE) convened via video conference on Wednesday, April 1, to discuss measures the district has implemented to offer distance learning to students during the mandated closure.

Meeting at 7 p.m., the BOE decided to postpone the presentation on the 2020-21 school district budget that was originally scheduled for that evening. Turning their attention to a presentation by Stissing Mountain Junior/Senior High School Principal Tara Grieb and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brian Timm, the BOE heard more about the steps teachers and staff have taken to continue instruction as best they can during the coronavirus pandemic.

Communicating with students and their parents on a regular basis, Grieb reported that she sent out a letter to the Stissing Mountain families to keep them informed about district instructional plans. She also reported on a later date that Cold Spring Early Learning Center Principal Gian Starr and Seymour Smith Intermediate Learning Center Principal Julie Roberts sent out their own letters to their schools’ families.

As teachers and staff move forward with expanded remote instruction, Grieb  acknowledged the hard work both teachers and students have put in since the schools closed mid-March. She emphasized that the instruction must to be meaningful for the different academic levels as well as varied and relatively independent so that the students can work through it with minimal assistance. Through “virtual meetings,” she said teachers have shared documents, videos and projects created for this time. Likewise, Grieb reported that teachers have been reading stories to their classes via video and “countless other creative and amazing things.

“The teachers really have done the unimaginable in a very short time at all levels and we are lucky to have such a talented faculty,” Grieb later said.

Among the obstacles of remote learning, Grieb said the real challenge is making sure learning is accessible to all  students, given the “vast geographic nature of our district and lackluster internet service in parts of the district.” There’s also the challenge of making sure the district’s “unique learners” get the assistance they need during the closure, Grieb noted.

Meanwhile, June Regents exams were canceled by Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa on Monday, April 6.

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