October, 2020

October, 2020

MESSAGE FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT

Dear Staff, Parents, and Guardians,

As we head into October, I wanted to provide you with an update regarding our plans for the re-opening of in-person instruction in our schools. I have been closely monitoring continued updates, including from a new Montco Office of Public Health source that provides data for our own Springfield Township, on the coronavirus incidence and positivity rates in our area. I am very happy to report that our positivity rate over the past two weeks is at the lowest levels ever for our area since March!  While we are testing more, and many of those tests are negative, the good news remains that our incidence rate is approximately 20 cases per day for every 100,000, which is far below the more typical 35 or so cases per day we were seeing over the summer. The positivity rate is hovering around 1.32% currently, also way below rates that were around 3.5% several weeks ago. This gives us all a strong rationale for trying to get students back into school so that they can enjoy the benefits of in-person learning and socialization.

In order to safely re-open schools, I am once again requesting that you complete the brief survey that will assist us with our planning, at the link below, by Monday, October 12th.

 Parent Survey - Re-opening Planning

Our current planning calls for opening back up our schools in a hybrid model on Monday, November 9th, at the start of the 2nd marking period. We plan to open ALL schools in a hybrid model, with half our students in on Monday and Tuesday, and the other half in on Thursday and Friday. All learning will be asynchronous on Wednesdays. We hope to do this in such a way, with coordination across buildings, so that siblings can come to school on the same days. This means that our teachers will be teaching with half the class sitting in front of them in school, while the other half of the class is live streaming in from home. The schedule will be different, including more days in person and sooner than November 9th, for our special education students. The reason for this hybrid schedule is that we simply cannot safely socially distance students a minimum of 6 feet apart from themselves and from their teacher unless classes are split in half. This option, just like virtual instruction, has limitations. It is not an ideal environment for our students, and it is not an ideal teaching situation for teachers who are trying to manage students in front of them as well as those at home. However, we do not have enough space in the entire district to spread students out sufficiently unless we only bring in half the number of students each day. Further, the logistics of planning for re-entry are complicated. Every aspect and minute of the day must be carefully designed so that students do not walk or gather together as they typically do in groups, whether on the bus, as they walk into or out of school, in the hallways, or sitting in the cafeteria. Principals have devised plans that replicate the schedules that students are on now so as not to disrupt those existing schedules.

I also wish to make everyone aware that the success of re-opening is dependent on the continued partnership between home and school. So far, our athletes, as an example, have done a remarkable job keeping safe and adhering to everything that we have asked of them, and we have not had any instance of transmission or virus as a result. We hope that all of our families will continue to do their part to ensure that we all adhere to social distancing and wearing masks outside of school, as well as in our schools. We are all in this together, and while we are weary of the restrictions placed on us, we are all well aware of the stories that we have heard about schools that have opened, and have had to shut down again because of positive cases. We do not want that to happen, and we must safeguard the health of every single staff member and student entrusted to us.

If you have specific questions regarding any aspect of our re-opening plans, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR BUILDING PRINCIPAL. While plans are not yet finalized, the principals will be able to address any concerns or questions you may have.

Thank you for your continued support, and parents and guardians, please complete the survey at your earliest convenience.

Dr. Nancy M. Hacker