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Suski: MASD has given out hundreds of free lunches, teachers preparing for online instruction


Superintendent Lori Suski provided an update on Middletown Area School District activities as the statewide school closure continued Thursday.

Lunch giveaway

The district began serving daily bagged lunches and bagged snacks to any students 18 years of age or younger Tuesday, with 154 lunches given out Tuesday, 185 on Wednesday, and 144 on Thursday between the two sites — Fink Elementary School and Middletown Area High School.

The district will continue to serve these meals on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Parents do not need to get out of their cars but the children must be in the vehicle in order to receive the lunches, per federal guidelines.

The district has offered eggs and milk to families in need from available inventory from the RaiderPacks program while lunches/snacks are distributed.

“Due to the closure we are unable to operate our RaiderPacks program this evening, but we are discussing alternative ways to assist families in need of food over the coming days, so please look for more information in future updates,” Suski said.

The RaiderPacks program fills backpacks with food items that are sent home with needy students on Fridays. Grocery bags are also filled to be picked up by parents so that families will be assured of receiving nutritional food to supplement meals for those needing help. The program has been in place for a few years in the district.

Continuity of instruction

MASD teachers are working from home to wrap up third marking period grades (based on assignments given up until the announcement of the closure on March 13).

“If your child has missing work from the third marking period, his/her teacher will communicate with the student to ensure that the work is completed during these two weeks and submitted for grading. Teachers will be flexible in accepting work submissions due to these extenuating circumstances, and we will delay the closing/storage of grades and issuance of report cards accordingly to allow all students to have equal opportunity to hand in missing assignments. Please communicate directly with your child’s teachers for assistance and support in this area,” Suski said.

All school districts are awaiting word from the Pennsylvania Department of Education regarding the continuity of instruction should the closure extend beyond March 27, she said, and once districts are given direction, MASD will release a plan to parents as to how continuity of instruction would occur.

“There are many unanswered questions that remain, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through these challenging times. We have informed MASD teachers to prepare for the possibility of moving into a virtual teaching and learning environment, and discussions have been occurring administratively all week as to what options exist to allow for such a change to occur,” she said. “Please be assured that while our students and teachers may be out of school, the administration has been working hard behind the scenes to develop a plan for the delivery of online learning in the event that conditions would not allow us to return to school as we hope. Please look for more information on this very important topic on Friday evening after we receive more information from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.”

State assessments

Late Thursday afternoon, school officials were notified that PSSA, PASA and Keystone Exams will not be administered next month. The state testing has been canceled for this spring due to the pandemic.

Student and parent mental health resources

“Unanticipated upheaval in people’s lives creates an undue amount of stress on adults, and that stress is often mirrored in children and teens who are overwhelmed by the volume of constant information available via social media and television related to COVID-19,” Suski said.

She shared a PowerPoint presentation, “Supporting Student Stress, Anxiety & Mental Health During COVID-19.”