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LETTER TO STUDENTS AND FAMILIES

August 18, 2020

Dear Northeastern students and families,

We hope this letter finds all of our students and families doing well and enjoying these remaining days of summer.  We know that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of what has been familiar to us has changed.  School is no different.  We have several changes to our operations in an effort to create a safe environment for our students and staff.  Most significantly we have students attending both our brick and mortar school and our newly created Bobcat Cyber Academy. We have had staff working all summer to ensure we are ready to welcome students on August 27, whether they are attending school in-person or engaging us online.  This letter is to answer some basic questions regarding school operations.    

  • COVID related adjustments- In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made a number of adjustments to our operations to support the health and safety of our students and staff.  Students and staff are required to wear face coverings at school.  We have altered our daily schedule by removing our homeroom and Academic Prep period to decrease the number of hall passings.  We have added an additional lunch period to decrease the number of students in the cafeteria at one time.  We are working to add some outdoor seating for lunches.  We have created time between lunches to allow for cleaning of tables and seats.  Our custodians are increasing cleaning protocols for common spaces.  Classrooms are being organized to maximize student spacing.  Signage throughout the building will be used to communicate social distancing expectations, remind people to wear masks, etc.  Several hallways will be designated as one-way for student traffic.  The number of students who are planning to attend school in person has decreased by 25-33%.  More information about these adjustments can be found here- https://www.nesd.k12.pa.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=1&ModuleInstanceID=3436&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=10063&PageID=1

  • Arrival/Departure- Our building will open at 7:00 AM with teachers’ rooms being opened by 7:15 AM.  Students who are being driven to school are required to be dropped off at our Hartman Street entrance at our 9th grade building.  Students will be encouraged to report to classrooms upon arrival to avoid congregating in halls.  The school day starts at 7:35 AM.  Our day will officially end at 2:35 PM.  Students will be encouraged to board their buses upon exit from school.

  • Grade Reporting- Because our students and families can always access grades through our learning management system, Schoology, we no longer print a physical report card for each student.  Should any student or family need a physical report card, please contact the student’s counselor, and one can be produced.   Monitoring your student’s grades through Schoology is incredibly important.  The NESD calendar indicates marking period end dates.    

  • First Day of School Information- On the first day of school, students normally receive a collection of important documents and pieces of information that go home to parents.  This year, that information will be sent to families via email.  Please be certain to carefully review this information. 

  • 9th Grade/New Student Orientation- This year our 9th Grade and New Student Orientation will be held virtually.  We will feature video presentations from staff on a number of important topics for our newest students.  We will provide a link to families to view the presentation.  Orientation was originally scheduled for the evening of August 18, but we have rescheduled the event.  We are working to put together the presentation and will contact families when it is available.    

  • Virtual Open House- We are planning to host a Virtual Open House on the evening of September 10 at 6:30 PM.  During this event, families are encouraged to log on and meet with their students’ teachers.  We will be sending more information about our Virtual Open House as we move closer to the event.  

  • Attendance/Tardies-  In light of COVID-19, we anticipate attendance to be affected.  If your student is experiencing any signs of illness such as fever, persistent cough, etc., we urge that student to stay home until symptoms have subsided.  As always, we simply ask for documentation from a parent or guardian authorizing the absence.  We have a vested interest in encouraging positive attendance habits while simultaneously ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff.  When attendance for a particular student becomes a unique concern, NHS makes use of a number of interventions, including student attendance improvement plans, Check and Connect referrals, Youth Court, Children and Youth referrals, citations, etc.  We also may make use of restrictions to student privileges for poor attendance.  Any student with ten or more unexcused or unlawful absences will lose extra-curricular privileges including parking, participation in sports and clubs, dances, commencement, etc.  Please make sure students who are legitimately absent return to school with an excuse note from home.  Notes can also be emailed or faxed directly to the school, or an excuse can be called into the office. Additionally, to discourage tardiness to school, tardies will accumulate through each semester.  Thanks for your help in promoting positive student attendance!

  • Scheduling- We have been working to determine which students will attend brick and mortar and which will attend BCA,  and we are using that information to help us finalize student schedules.  As a rule, we work to provide students the most rigorous and relevant education possible within the context of our course offerings.  We want to challenge our students in academically demanding courses as a means of preparing all of them for some form of post-secondary education and career readiness upon graduation.  We appreciate your support as we continue to challenge and support our students.  Students who have problems with their schedules should contact their counselors prior to the first day of school.  We only make changes based on missing courses or scheduling mistakes.  We plan to release schedules to students through Sapphire as soon as they are ready.  Students who ride buses will also be able to access bus information through Sapphire.

  • Dress Code- Each year our administrators review our student dress code.  Our overriding goal is to create a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors, and a place where appropriate attention can be paid to education.  Please be sure to review the dress code with your student as we made some changes this year.  As a rule of thumb, if you or your student question if something is appropriate, simply make another choice.  We want to avoid embarrassing and disruptive situations where we must require a student to change clothing or miss any valuable class time due to an easily avoidable dress code violation.  As in previous years, we will be greeting students at the doors to ensure they are dressed properly.  We thank you in advance for your support!

  • Email & Social Media- We frequently use email to keep parents and guardians apprised of important information.  In order to keep you informed, please make sure the school has your current, accurate email addresses.  If you need to update your email contact information, please contact the NHS office. Also, our school and district makes use of Twitter and Facebook, so please make use of them.  You can start by following Mr. Gay, NHS principal, on Twitter @mathewgaynesd.

  • School Supplies- Each year, we receive inquiries about school supplies needed by NHS students.  We typically provide the materials students need to be successful, but due to COVID-19, we want to limit the sharing of materials.  We encourage students to secure their own normal class materials including notebooks and writing utensils.  Students who take metals or woods classes are encouraged to bring their own safety glasses. Each student will need the calculator specified for his or her math class.  Students in Integrated Math I, Integrated Math II, or personal finance will use a scientific calculator.  (We use the Casio fx300ES which normally retails for less than $10.) Students in Integrated Math III, pre-calculus, calculus, statistics, or an Advanced Placement math course will use a TI-84 graphing calculator, which normally retails for $125 and can often be found used for about $75.  We will have a very limited number of calculators that students can sign out to use for the duration of their classes.  Students will also be expected to bring their fully charged Chromebooks each day.

  • Anywhere, Anytime Learning- NHS students are issued district-owned Chromebooks for educational purposes.  Students working within the school are not permitted to use personal laptops, tablets, etc.  Most of our students in grades 10-12 have their Chromebooks from the previous school year, and they will continue using them.  Our incoming freshmen currently have the Chromebooks they used in 8th grade.  To ensure we have enough devices for students throughout the district in light of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, our freshmen will start the year using their 8th grade Chromebooks.  We will communicate any change to that plan.  Families will have the opportunity to purchase insurance for the device for $25 for the 2020-2021 school year.  Insurance must be renewed each school year for all interested students.  Insurance payment can be made online through the student’s My School Bucks accounts. More information regarding insurance will be forthcoming.  If any student doesn’t have a Chromebook, please contact the NHS office to arrange pickup.  

  • School Security- Due to COVID-related protocols, NHS will not be hosting guests or volunteers beyond our office areas.  We intend to limit access to our schools to students, school staff, and service providers.  Our district will also continue to implement the response protocol, ALICE, in the event of an emergency.  The ALICE acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.  All of our staff and students will receive continuous training about the use of this protocol.  We continue to partner with Northeastern Regional Police Department and our school resource officer, Officer Goodman, who serves our school district.  Northeastern remains committed to student and staff safety.  

Administrators, counselors, custodians, maintenance and technology staff have been working all summer to prepare for the arrival of students and teachers.  Teachers will be returning shortly to engage in training, review curriculum, organize materials, prepare for online instruction and ready their rooms.  Our first student day this year is August 27, and we are all looking forward to seeing the return of our students, whether they attend our schools in-person or participate in our Bobcat Cyber Academy.  We thank you for putting your trust in us to provide your students with the world-class education that you have come to expect from NHS while providing a safe environment.  Enjoy these last few days of summer, and we will see you soon!  As always, please contact the high school office with any questions or concerns you might have.

Respectfully,

Mr. Mathew Gay, Principal 
Ms. Kimberly Bell, Asst. Principal
Mr. Brian Iezzi, Asst. Principal