The COVID-19 pandemic may have put the brakes on a traditional school year at Neshaminy, but the learning continued almost immediately as the District quickly moved the curriculum online.
With little warning, all Bucks County schools closed on Friday, March 13. Shortly after, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all schools in the Commonwealth closed, and eventually extended that closure to the entire school year.
The Neshaminy Curriculum & Instruction Department jumped into action immediately, developing and implementing a phased plan to move instruction online. By Monday, March 16, Phase I was posted offering “Broad exploratory learning opportunities” in the form of links and activities that could be completed at home. On March 23, Phase II was implemented, which expanded activities with grade-specific content and course-specific learning opportunities.
Students in grades 5–12 already had take-home Chromebooks as part of Neshaminy’s expanding 1:1 Technology Initiative. During the first two weeks of the closure, the Technology Services Department distributed thousands of additional Chromebooks taken from classroom carts for students in grades K‑4 and 11–12. Families registered online to receive their Chromebooks, and picked them up at Neshaminy High School (while staying socially distanced). In addition, they also set up a Chromebook repair service that will be operated throughout the closure while maintaining safe distancing procedures.
Over the past several years, Neshaminy has invested heavily in educational technology, in online educational applications, hardware (Chromebooks) and network upgrades. This gave students an advantage, since they are already used to working online using a variety of educational apps and resources. The District added Canvas, an online learning management system used in the middle schools and high school, to the elementary grades. Canvas offers teachers many tools to plan their lessons online, track student progress and communicate with their students and their parents or guardians. Extending this tool to the elementary grades offers consistency across the District, and a way to organize multiple apps and resources for students in one place.
The goals of Online Learning at Neshaminy during the COVID-19 crisis are:
- No student suffers a long-term negative educational impact
- A phased instructional program roll-out
- The continuation of Neshaminy curriculum
- The continuation of individual classroom/course structures
- The flexibility to accommodate for individual student/family circumstances during the pandemic
- Equitable access for students
Neshaminy teachers, administrators and counselors worked for weeks following the closure by phone, Zoom conferences, Google Docs and email across the District to develop Phase III of the plan, which meets all of these criteria. This phase was launched on Monday, April 13, and is the first where all students are expected to participate every school day, and their work counts toward grade-level requirements. Teachers customized lesson plans for their classes and individual students. Programs for gifted and special needs students were developed and implemented at the same time to meet their needs. Students are even offered lessons and activities for “specials” such as art, physical education and music.
Using educational applications such as WeVideo, Clever, Flipgrid and Nearpod, teachers are finding innovative ways to reach their students. Many record short videos to share everything from math and science demonstrations to yoga classes. The learning is “asynchronous,” meaning that students can log in whenever they want during the day and complete the lessons at their own pace. Teachers are available for help and video conferences, and monitor student progress through Canvas and the educational applications.
While both staff and students are eager to return to the classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums, athletic fields and playgrounds as soon as is safely possible, Neshaminy is ready to handle whatever challenges may arise as the COVID-19 outbreak plays out. The schools buildings might be on hold, but the learning will carry on.
For more information, please visit the Neshaminy COVID-19 website: