October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Dear Staff, Parents, and Guardians,

This message is to share some of the planning that is taking place in our buildings prior to the re-entry of students and staff in our hybrid model. Our principals and administrators are working each day to ensure safe and healthy practices and conditions for the return to school. My thanks to those of you who completed the parent or staff surveys, which are helping us to get an idea of who will be back. I would also recommend that you contact your child's teacher(s) and the principal if your choice will be for virtual instruction in the home all five days, so that they all can plan accordingly.

Please take a look at each of the areas covered below, and if you have more specific questions or concerns between now and November 9th, the date of our return, please be sure to contact your building principal. Principals will be communicating additional detailed information regarding the return to school within the next weeks as well.

1. PPE - All classrooms will have ample supplies of disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer (also in hallway dispensers), extra masks, gloves, and protective shields if needed. Please note: Masks will be required to be worn by all students and staff on buses, and in buildings, at all times other than when eating.

2. Building videos - We are developing videos of spaces in each school to share with our families and staff, so that you can view how social distancing in those spaces will be achieved. Videos will highlight distancing between classroom desks, markings in the hallways, and seating for lunch in the cafeteria or other spaces, and should be helpful for reassuring you of what conditions will be within in each school.

3. Protocols for suspected cases of COVID - please refer to our website main page at sdst.org, under "COVID-19 Resources at  https://www.sdst.org/covid-19-resources/index   to see the Montgomery County Office of Public Health Exclusion Guide, and an explanation of the difference between quarantine and isolation. When a report is made of suspected or confirmed exposure or a positive case, we have identified lead individuals in our district who will report this information and work with the Montco OPH to immediately implement contact tracing, notify anyone who might have come into concerning contact in the building with the individual, communicate whether quarantine is warranted, and communicate with staff and/or families as needed.

4. Technology - we recommend that families consider the purchase of ear buds to facilitate learning. We can assist for families who need financial support with these or other tech needs. We have ordered speakers to amplify sound and have ordered additional devices on hand in classrooms to help with instructional delivery. 

5. Bus transportation - we will do our best to provide social distancing on our buses, however, we are currently experiencing a shortage in the number of drivers available, so we may need to consolidate runs, which would mean more students on each bus. We will be starting up our non-public bus transportation next week, but once we are also doing public school runs, buses can become more populated. We recommend that siblings sit together. (Please contact our Transportation Dept. if you know of someone who would be interested in training to become a school bus driver for us!)

6. During the week of November 2nd through November 6th, schools will be closed on November 3rd for Election Day. On November 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th - Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday - we will have live instruction each morning, but in the afternoons, our teachers will be working on preparing their classrooms for the following week's return to in-person instruction. Therefore, all afternoon sessions on those days will be asynchronous.

7. Please help us to keep students and staff safe by keeping children home when ill. This includes those with severe colds, flu-like symptoms including fever, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea. We would also request that you notify the school nurse immediately if any child has been exposed to any individual who has tested positive for coronavirus or who also has been potentially exposed to someone with the virus.

We look forward to welcoming back our students and staff to school on November 9th, and hope this provides you with some information about this return. Thank you for your cooperation, and for working with us to ensure a smooth and safe transition!

Dr. Nancy Hacker