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BUILD on Distance Learning, Equity and School Closure Impact on Families

Dear T/E Families,

We hope you and your families are well and you are finding ways to navigate these incredible circumstances.  BUILD has received feedback from many families, both positive and constructive, in regards to the school closure, distance learning and other related areas.  

Below is our letter to the TESD Board of Directors offering partnership and support in understanding the concerns and ideas that have been shared with us. As a parent support organization, BUILD always strives for a dynamic and responsive relationship with the board and administration, knowing many of our families have unique challenges and rely on the support our organization provides. 

Feedback, new or additional, can be provided by clicking here to provide feedback for BUILD.  BUILD will aggregate the feedback into positive/constructive areas of focus to share with the school directors and administration to guide their decision making with feedback from parents.

The survey is open for ALL families, not just those with children receiving special education, gifted support or other accommodations.

As always, please reach out to us if you need support or resources.  We are here for you.

Wendy, Kate, Maggie & Jamie

TESD Distance Learning: Family Survey (click here)

March 30, 2020  Dear T/E School Board Directors,

I sincerely hope your families are healthy and doing well.  These are trying circumstances for all of us, and I believe we have shared concerns for those who continue to work with the public (especially in healthcare) and the risks they are taking -  as well as the financial impact already impacting many of our families, friends and neighbors.  

BUILD is grateful to the district’s quick response to our request to ensure that families receiving free/reduced meals were able to continue to do so, that newly impacted families would have a mechanism to receive those services, and a direct communication was outlined in a district letter.  (We continue to emphasize the importance of adding this information and direction to the TESD website so all families may be served, as needed.) As always, T&E Care was able to step into this situation and BUILD asked families that could, to please donate to this community cause.

We are grateful for the ways in which our teachers and district staff have worked to maintain communication and continuity for our students.  We recognize they didn’t have any planning time and had to “hit the ground running.” They did so with enthusiasm. Personally, my son’s 3rd grade teacher sends a warm personal video each day, checking in on her students and giving them something interesting to do/learn from her that day.  She has worked to find more ways to interactively support her students.

Since the schools closed, the District is likely receiving feedback from parents and the InterSchool Council. BUILD has also heard feedback from families.  They have concerns about how communication and instruction are being provided for all students. We believe these are systemic concerns and recognize that we are receiving this feedback because some families feel uncomfortable sharing this directly with their teachers and building principals. In our role as BUILD, we recognize the current plan was implemented quickly. Now that an updated district plan is being discussed, we endeavour to provide helpful feedback for what it's like from the parents’ view in order to facilitate improvements in what should be an agile, dynamically changing process.  We read in the letter on Friday that Dr. Gusick recognizes families’ needs vary widely; we agree that this is an important consideration. 

If the school board directors and administration are open to feedback, we will provide you with a list of the suggestions, concerns, and resources to help guide you in understanding what families are experiencing with a focus on effective communication to families and engaging instruction for students.  As you can imagine, many of these areas involve communication and expectations. 

We propose framing feedback in three categories; current successes, suggested improvements and new options/ideas. A comforting message from you, as leaders, to T/E families would be great now -  to know that you believe families and schools have a meaningful partnership, that we are “all in this together”, and the recognition of the importance of parental involvement as it contributes to the success of all T/E students, especially during this unprecedented school closure.  

Recently, concern for student equity was cited by administration as a reason to NOT provide instruction during school closure; which concerns BUILD immensely.   As such, we signed on to this letter addressed to Governor Wolf and Secretary Rivera for those reasons.  We were pleased to learn the Philadelphia School District has decide

d to make an investment in continuity options for their students.  We also note that Radnor did a technology survey of families as soon as they recognized the potential impact of COVID-19.  Radnor utilized district and community resources to fill the gaps for families who needed additional technology to support their students.  

BUILD recognizes all families do not have these technology resources at hand. And, we also understand many families are willing to use their current technology resources in order to enable the district to provide for the families who need more.  Additionally, we know some families have been able to provide additional educational resources to their children during this time, we have concern for families which are unable to do that. We hope you will consider that as a reason to provide engaging, independent instruction for all students, dynamically adapting to support their ability and growth.

As always, BUILD desires to be an active district partner providing an honest and meaningful voice with the school board and administration. 


Jamie Lynch with Wendy Brooks, Kate Mayer and Maggie Gaines on behalf of BUILD T/E

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