Moorestown schools finding a new normal with remote learning

“We’ve had to reinvent everything,” said Superintendent Scott McCartney.

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With schools closed and students and teachers forced to navigate the unchartered waters of 100 percent remote learning, the Moorestown school district is constantly assessing how it can provide the best education, McCartney said.

During the board of education’s virtual meeting on April 28, McCartney explained that he and the district’s principals have been meeting almost daily to discuss day-to-day operations and planning.

“Our remote learning plan has evolved over these last five weeks and is likely to continue to evolve and grow,” he noted.

The superintendent also took a moment to explain that while many parents have inquired about closing school for the remainder of the year, the decision will be made by the state. 

“We are anxiously awaiting the governor’s next conversation and or direction,” McCartney said.

Board President Sandra Alberti thanked the district’s administration for its leadership and support.

“This has been more change than I think we could have ever imagined happening in this short amount of time,” she said.

McCartney, in turn, thanked the district’s staff for stepping up. He said bus drivers are delivering food, food service employees continue to make meals and nurses and counselors are supporting students’ emotional and mental health. He’s certain staff are working far more hours than ever.

Throughout the last five weeks, McCartney has made random calls to families in the district. He said while his first question is always about their health, he’s also gauging whether students are getting the material they need and how the district can refine its delivery models.

McCartney said staff will use that feedback to make improvements and to guide professional development. He encouraged parents and families to reach out to their students’ classroom teacher, guidance counselor or principal for any support they may need. McCartney added that  the district IT department has worked overtime to ensure all the pieces of remote learning are coming together smoothly. Now, the focus is on figuring out how the district can make instruction more dynamic and personalized.

The board’s student representatives took a few minutes during the meeting to discuss the benefits and challenges of remote learning. Junior Cara Petrycki said at the outset, she and her fellow students were concerned the workload might prove overwhelming without a set structure from home. But she’s been pleasantly surprised to find that the work has been manageable. 

 

“My teachers have been really accommodating and have done a really good job of communicating with us,” Petrycki said.

She said students are still taking Advanced Placement tests for college credit. While previous  tests were administered in school during a three-and-a-half-hour period of time, students now take a 45-minute test at home.

Petrycki noted her only major complaint is that she misses seeing friends and teachers in person. 

“It’s definitely been a major change, but we’re definitely making the most of our situation,” she said.

Freshman Colin DiPasquale said in his experience, there has been a lot more homework compared with in-school learning, but the day is shorter and students don’t have classes on Friday so teachers can have a makeup day. 

He’s been keeping up a workout regiment from his crew coach. Other coaches have given their teams exercise routines to keep up practice while they’re home. 

According to McCartney, the administration is in the process of working out what processes will look like should schools reopen at some point this year, but warned that things certainly won’t be the same as when students left in March. 

“While at some point we will go and we will need to go back to school, I’m not sure that it will ever be exactly what it was,” he said.

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