Dear Staff, Parents and Guardians,
As we approach our start-up to in-school instruction in our hybrid model on November 9th, there are a few items I wish to bring to your attention. As you are already aware, our staff will be involved in training activities tomorrow afternoon, and every afternoon next week in order to prepare for the return of our students. All staff will be setting up their classrooms and technologies to facilitate communication and instructional delivery for those both in school and at home. They will also be meeting as grade level and department teams, preparing for the return of students, and at Enfield, preparing to orient students to a new school environment as well as to the in-school experience for our young kindergarten children. As you know, we have prepared a video that gives you a good representation of some of the procedures that we have put into place to help students and staff stay safe. Safety precautions will be a major focus of our meetings with staff next week.
At our Board meeting on Monday, November 2nd, the Board will be approving our revised Health and Safety Plan. In addition to the resources located in the COVID-19 section of our website, the Health and Safety Plan outlines many of these individual school building protocols, as well as those on the bus and in cafeterias. The Plan, after its approval next week, will also be posted on our website for your viewing.
At the county level, we are engaged in planning for a presentation for parents by Dr. David Rubin of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, that we will post to our website once completed. The purpose of the video presentation will be to provide parents with critical answers to frequently asked questions, particularly now, with the news of a nationwide surge of the virus in most of our states. A representative group of teachers from all of our county districts had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Rubin this past week, and Board members will have an opportunity to meet with him and other doctors on November 5th. These meetings are being held so that staff, board members, and families can hear from the experts in response to their concerns about this surge of the virus and school re-opening. We are fortunate so far that in Springfield Township, we are still at a very low rate of positivity, and that is true in the county as well, where we are still in the 3.1 to 5% range county-wide. However, we are all aware that this can change, and our major concern is that an exponential increase in positivity rates may be on its way in our region. If that is true, this predicted increase and surge could impact how long our schools remain opened.
I know that many of our families, students, and staff are anxious to return to school for a variety of reasons. Others have concerns, fears and anxiety over bringing students and staff back into schools. I wish to reassure you all that we have, and continue, to work exceptionally hard to be able to bring everyone back safely. We have implemented many protocols to keep everyone safe. We know from the experience of other schools that we can make this work. The experience of other area schools that have opened has shown that there have been many successful openings. But, in order to prevent another shutdown, and a rise in the number of cases we see in our community and in our schools, we must ALL work together. The doctors are advising us that the potential for transmission is greater in cold weather, when respiratory droplets tend to be suspended longer in the air. We know that more flu and other sickness can weaken immune systems. And we know that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays pose threats due to larger gatherings of family and friends. We all must be mindful of this and do everything we can to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission, if we wish to see schools remain open for learning. The greatest barriers to this are a local positivity rate, within our community, that surges to 8% or more, numerous staff outages due to illness or quarantine, and any significant outbreak in a school or across the district. We hope this will not occur, but we will continue to monitor the local data for our area each week so that it can continue to guide our decision-making, along with the other factors mentioned.
Again, as we approach the Halloween holiday, if you plan on having your child(ren) participate in trick or treating or other events, please consider how you can provide a safe, yet enjoyable experience for our children, without risk of exposure, so that they will remain healthy and able to come back to school the following week!
Dr. Nancy Hacker