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Phased Reopening of Schools

Garnet Valley School District Phased Reopening of Schools
Posted on 09/16/2020
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Dear Parents,

Given that the health data for our district and county has stabilized, and both the Incidence Rate (48.52) and PCR Positivity Percentage (4.3%) are currently in the range that allows for hybrid learning, we are planning to begin bringing back students.  We will take a slow, phased approach that begins on Monday, September 21st with a small group of our special education students.  Then, on Tuesday, September 29th, we plan to bring in Kindergarten through Grade 2 as well as 80 additional special education students

 

Schedules

In terms of instructional schedules, all Kindergarteners and the 85 special education students identified above will be in school for live, in-person instruction 5 days per week and will not utilize the hybrid or virtual Friday schedule. All other students will follow the hybrid schedule that we described over the summer:

  • last names A-K attend in person Monday and Wednesday
  • last names L-Z attend in person Tuesday and Thursday
  • all students in grades 1 - 12 follow a virtual Friday schedule from home

We will continue with the K-2 grade band of students and the 85 special education students for two weeks, which ranges from Tuesday, September 29th until Friday October 9th. Specific schedules will be communicated by your building leadership teams, and parent webinars will be scheduled next week to share additional information. If you are the parent of a K-2 student and do not wish to send your child on her/his in-person days, please click HERE

 

We're beginning with these students for several reasons. Educationally, it is incredibly complex to educate these children online. Lack of literacy skills, limited ability to work independently, and shorter attention spans are just a few of the many issues that our teachers and our parents are facing. Socially and emotionally, all of our students are struggling, but for students who have limited or no experience with school, these students are missing vital interactions that develop their skills to cooperate, socialize, and acclimate to school where social distancing and other health precautions are more easily applied. 

 

Should our data remain stable and/or trend in an appropriate direction, we will plan to bring in our students in grades 3 through 5 beginning Tuesday, October 13th according to the hybrid schedule, at which point all elementary students will have access to in person learning. Again, Kindergarten and specific special education students will be in person five days a week, while all other elementary students will follow a hybrid schedule with Fridays designated as virtual days. Finally, beginning on Monday, October 19th, the district will bring in our students in grades 6 through 12 for hybrid learning. 

 

This phased approach will give our teachers, support staff, administration, nursing team, transportation department, food services, and facilities and operations departments time to adjust, troubleshoot, and grow in confidence that we can safely and effectively execute our hybrid model. As we have said many times, this plan is subject to change based on updated data, guidance, and feedback

 

Teaching and Learning

Ongoing analysis of your feedback shows that there are some concerns regarding the delivery of instruction in a hybrid format, with some students in class and some at home. Especially at the primary grades, the complexities are multi-layered and require a great deal of technical and pedagogical skill. Therefore, our principals have been meeting with groups of teachers to adapt and alter instructional approaches and schedules to enhance student learning. Our Curriculum and Instruction Department and principals will communicate revised models in the days ahead. Similarly, principals will meet with other grade bands so that our hybrid approach reflects what we’ve learned in the first weeks of school in regard to strategies that work well and those that perhaps seemed like a good idea, but proved ineffective. Your input has also been extremely important throughout the school closure and continues to assist us in our planning.  

 

Health and Safety

Our buildings have been ready for students since the beginning of the school year, but safety remains a crucial part of our thinking and planning. Our administrative team is working closely with our nursing department and the Chester County Department of Health to refine and enhance our protocols around such topics such as masking, social distancing, contact tracing, symptom monitoring, case tracking, hygiene, cleaning, and PPE. We meet regularly to stay up-to-date with guidance, the needs of our school community, and current data points. As we plan to bring students and additional staff back onto our campus, know that we will continue to work collaboratively with all of you to help you feel as comfortable and safe as possible. 

 

Perhaps the most important safety aspect of bringing students back for face-to-face learning is masking. Universal face coverings are required for all students while on school property, or when using school vehicles per PA Secretary of Health’s Universal Face Covering Order. This updated order requires staff and students to wear face coverings at all times while in school, even when six feet of social distancing can be achieved.  The district, however, will provide face covering breaks throughout the day while maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet for no longer than 10 minutes.  In the days ahead, we suggest that parents work with their children to find masks that fit best for their children. For more information regarding face coverings, please CLICK HERE and the  information related to masking can be found on page 12.

 

Clearly, our nursing team will play a vital role in our phased reopening. We, consequently, ask that parents familiarize themselves with the following information–CLICK HERE. As always, please reach out to your building administrator or school nurse at any time with questions, concerns, or needs. Your building administrative team will be in touch with more specific information and details as we get closer to your child’s reopening date.

 

Transportation

Our Supervisor of Transportation, Lorraine Bytheway is currently finalizing our routes and driver assignments. Building principals will communicate with parents regarding bus stop locations as well as pick up and drop off times in the coming days. Just a reminder that students will be required to wear masks for the entirety of their bus trips. Drivers will also wear masks, and buses will be disinfected after the end of each run.

 

*****

 

We are excited, anxious, and grateful to be at a point where we can begin to see our students again in person. As we’ve said throughout the closure, we are so appreciative of the support and collaboration of our parents. I love to hear from our school community; however, with the volume of emails, it is getting impossible for me to respond in a timely manner. As a result, if you have a comment or question, please use our Questions and Feedback Form which can be found by CLICKING HERE. Your feedback continues to assist us in all aspects of this new age of education!! Our goal remains getting our students back for in person learning, and through the collective efforts of our entire school community, we believe that we can achieve it. 

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

 

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