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Cyber schools lend helping hand to brick-and-mortar districts to keep students engaged

Pennsylvania’s Coalition of Public Charter Schools sent a letter to the state Department of Education offering their advice as districts decide how to move forward

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Coalition of Public Charter Schools is offering to help any district in Pennsylvania to keep students engaged as schools are shutdown.

The group sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s Department of Education offering their advice as districts navigate how to move forward with their educational courses in the future.

“I think right now we all have a moral obligation to provide the best education we can to students in the Commonwealth,” said Ana Meyers with PA Coalition of Public Charter Schools. 

Meyers added, the organization is also providing webinars for educators. 

“Since we are the experts at online education and we’ve been doing it in Pennsylvania for over 20 years, it only makes sense in this time of crisis that we reach out to all schools,” said Meyers. 

Commonwealth Charter Academy President & CEO, Dr. Maurice Flurie, said educators should focus right now on engaging students.

“Running a completely virtual school is completely different than trying to do a continuity of education program to give kids education experiences,” said Flurie. 

He added, “the biggest thing you’re going to have to address is the connectivity in individual households. That’s something you’re going to have to address so all kids have access to whatever technological platform you choose to use.” 

Flurie said that includes districts asking themselves questions like will they provide educational experiences on laptops, tablets, or even phones.

Flurie said cyber schools have also undergone changes since the statewide school shutdown. 

At Commonwealth Charter Academy, Flurie said, teachers were given extra time to adjust to working from home before they ramped up efforts to provide a continuity of education.

“A lot of schools are just looking to keep their students engaged right now. That’s fairly easy and we can help them do that,” said Meyers, who added the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools represents 12 of the 14 cyber schools in the state. She said the organization has also provided an online survey district leaders can take to pair them with the best cyber school experts that match their needs.

Interested districts can contact them at their website: WWW.PACHARTERS.ORG

Districts can read the letter sent to the PA Dept of Education here: http://pacharters.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Cyber-Charters-Letter-to-PDE-Regarding-COVID-19.pdf

Here's a statement from Brian Hayden, CEO of PA Cyber Charter School:

“Members of our PA Cyber team representing special education to curriculum have already been contacted by brick-and-mortar schools for consultation and we welcome inquiry from any of PA’s educational institutions. For example, our special education staff has participated in calls about providing virtual services and our academic staff has been regularly participating in regional intermediate unit’s curriculum meetings.

We are very proud of our efforts working collaboratively with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, both traditional and brick-and-mortar schools alike. We make these efforts to ensure that every student has an opportunity to have continuity in their education. In fact, the charter school coalition, of which we are a member, has actively reached out to educators across the state to offer our expertise and guidance.

Now, more than ever, we want to be a resource to help all students – no matter their zip codes – to continue to learn and attain some sense of normalcy during this unprecedented time. PA Cyber is here to help because we’re all in this together and the enriched education of PA’s students is what’s most important.”