July, 2020

July, 2020


Dear Parents and Guardians,

The school year is officially over, but as you are all now aware, the active planning for the start of the school year in September is underway. Planning this summer is by far more challenging and arduous than ever before, as we work hard to create a safe environment for students and staff. While we know that we cannot guarantee risk-free schools and buildings, I can assure you that we are striving to put measures into place that are recommended by international and national health organizations, offices of health, and medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and our own Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Unfortunately schools built in the 1960’s and even later were not designed for class room sizes of under 15 students, which would be ideal for social distancing. To be able to heed to recommendations for keeping students apart requires creative thinking, and flexible planning and scheduling. To put it simply, there will be many alterations to our normal practices and procedures, in order to bring students and staff back to school in as safe a manner as possible.

I wish to acknowledge the participation of over 160 individuals each evening in early July who attended our four virtual focus groups. These groups were designed to provide some information about our early thoughts about re-opening, to answer questions about many of the routines being devised, and also to gather parent and staff input into considerations for daily procedures. The input received has been invaluable, and along with conversations with our staff leadership teams, we have been able to utilize that information to guide our planning.

By the end of July or early August, we anticipate that we will be able to communicate plans for the re-opening of each of our schools, including measures being taken to keep students and staff safe, and our buildings sanitized and clean. We fully expect to have more guidance from the Montgomery County of Public Health, which will assist us with the protocols needed in the event of a reported case of exposure or illness.

We are also working on additional plans for instruction, recognizing that there may be extended periods of absence or self-quarantine that will be taken, or for families who feel more comfortable with an alternative to physical, in-school attendance. We remain committed to being your educational provider of choice, whether in our classrooms, or remotely.

Finally, we recognize, and hope that you do too, that there is no perfect plan that can be designed to eliminate all risk. Guidelines, and the knowledge of the medical and scientific communities, seem to be continuously changing, and our task of opening schools in the midst of an international health crisis with unprecedented death and illness is indeed daunting. I thank you for your appreciation of our efforts, and for your willingness to contribute your thoughts and ideas, and additional resources for our consideration.

Dr. Nancy M. Hacker,