From the desk of the Executive Director:
I hope everyone is enjoying the summer break and getting to relax as we inch closer to the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. These certainly are unprecedented times that we are enduring. COVID-19 has changed our “normal” to a new normal. And, although this pandemic has certainly created issues for our education world, it has opened the doors for innovation and creativity for students, teachers, parents, and the entire school community. We have all heard the saying “It takes a villiage…” What we all endured since the closure of schools on March 13, 2020 certainly took all that and more. But, in the end, we remained strong and came together as a unified group always with the best interest of our children.
Let’s face the facts; there is nothing better than face-to-face daily instruction and interaction with our students and staff. Our IU1 community was faced with several roadblocks: lack of bandwidth, limited technological resources, limitations on feeding students and families, inabilities to reach students on an individual basis…the list goes on and on. However, despite these barriers, our school community simply found ways to overcome these deficits. We could have all blamed any or all of these setbacks to educating and nurturing our students. But, instead, our district leadership rose to the occasion and found creative ways to overcome obstacles and work collaboratively to create solutions. It wasn’t always easy and the road was rocky at times. The silver lining in all of this is collaboration, togetherness, empathy, and a deep understanding that we are simply all in this together.
When this all began, IU1 staff immediately began assisting school entities in Washington, Greene, and Fayette Counites in all areas including Curriculum, Special Education, Mental Health Services, Operations, Technology, Federal Programs, Human Resources, and Professional Development as these related to the COVID-19 crisis. Our team met with district leadership daily for nearly two months to get pertinent feedback and assist in developing programming to assist in educating our students. We continue to meet bi-weekly with superintendents to provide our leadership teams with the most recent information and updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). All Intermediate Units across the commonwealth were called upon to serve as the liaison between PDE and the districts we serve. I’m extremely proud of the work we have all done throughout these difficult times.
We don’t know what the future holds as our districts prepare Health and Safety plans for the upcoming school year. There are several questions that remain unanswered as to what type of instruction our students will have when the school year begins. Will it be 100% face-to-face or will it be in a virtual environment? Or will it be a hybrid model where some students physically attend school while others are in a virtual learning environment? As we seek answers and finalize tentative plans, we will continue to do so with the same tenacious yet careful approach as we have done in the past four months.
Hopefully, we will see a steady decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases as we become more educated about this pandemic. As we simply do not know what the future holds, the staff at Intermediate Unit 1 stands prepared to assist every school entity in our three-county service area in any way possible – always keeping the best interest of our respective school communities as our top priority.
We are and will continue to be #IU1STRONG!
Enjoy the remainder of summer!
Dr. Don Martin