Dear Pattonville families,
Last Monday, July 20, I shared our hopes of returning to school in August at phase 2 of in-person learning, while also offering a 100% virtual academy option for families. Phase 2 of in-person learning is a blended learning model where students attend school in-person two days a week and virtually one day a week.
As we consulted more with St. Louis County health officials and reviewed the spread of COVID-19 in our community, it became very clear that we could no longer move forward with students and staff returning to the classroom to begin the new school year. There is simply no way for us to ensure the safety of our students and staff during in-person learning with the level of transmission currently taking place in our area. For this reason, Pattonville will begin the new school year in phase 3 of in-person learning. This means all student learning (early childhood through 12th grade) will take place online. At present, we plan to be in phase 3 until mid-October, at which time we will re-evaluate the conditions in the community and determine if any changes to our phase level can be made. If it becomes possible to bring some students back sooner, we will do so.
So what does this mean for your child?
First, your selection of in-person learning or the Villemade Virtual Academy is still very important. If you selected in-person learning, our hope is to transition to phase 2 in October if at all possible. At that time, your child will participate in the blended model.
In order to provide a smooth transition to virtual learning for all students, we will delay the first day of school until Monday, Aug. 31. This will allow us time to distribute district-provided technology to our students; provide opportunities for staff to connect with students before school starts; and ensure our staff are properly trained to engage students in meaningful learning while teaching online. Virtual learning will be more robust than the emergency instruction provided last spring, with schedules that allow for breaks and activities away from screens.
In the near future, you will receive more information about virtual instruction, your child’s teacher, what to expect and additional resources we plan to have available to support our families and students.
In addition, we are working with community partners to provide child care support for our families. Currently, Bridgeton has agreed to allow us to use one of its facilities and the city is eager to partner with us. We will communicate more information about this opportunity and potentially others in the near future. In addition, we will continue distributing a week’s worth of free meals for students each Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pattonville Learning Center until further notice.
I am heartbroken at having to begin the year online. This decision was not made lightly. We know many of our students and families were looking forward to physically returning to school and this decision will cause difficulties for families who need to balance work, child care and supporting their children’s in-home learning. Most children learn best in the classroom, where they can experience learning in person and a teacher can better understand their students’ needs and strengths at a personal level. But the bottom line is that students and staff need to be safe first and foremost, and this decision ensures that priority can be accomplished.
Pattonville’s mission statement is simple: That All Will Learn. Our staff take the purpose in these words to heart. We know this school year is going to be like no other we’ve experienced in our lifetime, but we are committed to supporting your child academically and emotionally in every way we can.
It’s been said that the true character of individuals is most notable during times of crisis. I have witnessed this first hand over the last few months. There is strength and caring in Pattonville, and I am certain we will get through these trying times if we are united in support of each other, and most importantly, in support of our students.
Thank you for your patience, support and understanding as we strive to meet the needs of our students in the days ahead.
Tim Pecoraro, Ed.D.
For more information