Emptying the classroom

An empty school: Keystone Academy Charter teachers distributed belongings back to parents via a socially distanced drive by pickup. LOGAN KRUM/TIMES PHOTO

For the first time since the shutdown, students and families returned to Keystone Academy Charter School – though it wasn’t for the circumstances they wanted.

Last week, the K-8 school hosted a drive-by pickup for parents to claim their students’ belongings left behind in classrooms, lockers and cubbies. On April 9, Gov. Tom Wolf extended the school closure for the remainder of the academic year, bringing an unexpected ending to classroom learning.

“It looks like we just dropped everything and walked out the door,” Keystone Academy CEO Claudia Lyles said in the school’s gymnasium, which was filled with bags of students’ belongings.

Like schools across the country, Keystone Academy has since pivoted to online learning. Students were online by April 6, with teachers providing live sessions and daily assignments via Google Classroom and Zoom. Students are attending two to three live sessions in the core subjects a day, lasting between an hour and an hour and a half.

“It took a lot of work from the students, staff, teachers and parents to get familiar with a new platform none of us had used before,” said principal Kathryn Makar.

Lyles thanked parents for stepping up to help their kids in this unprecedented time.

“Everyone is stepping up and doing their part to try to make this as smooth as possible, and that’s all you can do,” she said.