Teachers, students in Upper Darby Township adjust to digital learning amid COVID-19

UPPER DARBY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- This week, the Upper Darby School District rolled out mandatory lesson plans and homework to students to keep them on the right educational track while at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Upper Darby High School principal Kelley Simone records videos in the morning to connect with her students, "Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone got through the first day of virtual learning."

Dr. Brian Ursone, principal at Beverly Hills Middle school, records himself reading one chapter of "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" every night.

Sharing this encouraging message to the students, "Don't be overly anxious just do the best you can."

They are doing their part along with teachers to connect with their students the best way they can right now, online.

School Superintendant Dr. Daniel McGarry said virtual learning is now mandatory across the district.

"We've given out over 2,500 chrome books in the school district," said McGarry. "Now, starting on Monday, there's an actual plan. We start work on Monday with an expectation that all assignments are turned in on Friday."

And administrators are making sure everyone is on track.

"As we see that students are not logging in, not accessing the lessons, we're sending emails and phone calls to assist," says Frank Salerno, the director of elementary education.

Director of Curriculum, Christine Kelley issued a statement on Tuesday:

"Our educational plan has been a team approach in planning and executing. Our teachers, instructional coaches, and district administrators have worked together to create a plan which continues to promote learning and educational opportunities for all of our students. We will continue to make adjustments and be flexible during the closure. The key to this being successful is teamwork and patience."

Since Governor Tom Wolf ordered schools and business closed "until further notice," the Upper Darby School District is thinking long term.

"Can we hold a real graduation ceremony? If not, what kind of virtual graduation ceremony can we have so we can at least recognize kids graduating for high school?" said McGarry.

It's the governor's call as to when schools will reopen this year, if at all.

McGarry says students should not worry about being held back or penalized as the district, parents and kids adjust to the new way of learning.
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