PDE has also provided guidance for reopening schools along with many other entities like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Department of Health (DOH). As required by PDE, a pandemic committee consisting of administration, board members, parents and employees, was established to review the proposed Health and Safety Plan and provide feedback prior to board approval. This collaboration has allowed for a comprehensive review of the proposed reopening plan based on medical expertise, community representation and the needs and realities of school functions. With the support of everyone involved, we believe a safe and healthy environment can be provided for students whose families are comfortable allowing them to return to the school setting. The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”1 Likewise, the Center for Disease Control2 released updated guidance on July 25 supporting the reopening of schools citing the low risk to students and the social, emotional, and academic benefits of being in school. As we plan for the health and safety of our students, we strongly believe that social interaction and in-person instruction are essential to our students’ social emotional well-being, as well as their academic growth.
In addition, we recognize that our remote learning this spring was our best attempt to quickly transition to the stay at home requirement we faced for the last nine weeks of the school year; however, it is not an adequate solution to ensure learning throughout an entire school year. Thus, the academic framework options for the 2020-2021 school year will include a face to face virtual option that allows students to participate simultaneously with their in-class peers and teacher while staying in their homes. Over the past couple months, our planning for 2020-2021 has focused on providing high quality educational options for our students while respecting the concerns families may have in regard to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, August 4, 2020, the Board of Directors approved our Academic Framework and Health and Safety Plan. The updated information has been posted on the District website (www.burrell.k12.pa.us). We will follow this academic framework regardless of which phase Pennsylvania may be in. Should the state declare the red phase with a stay at home order, all students will participate virtually from their homes. In the yellow and green phase, the District will remain open to families who choose to send their students to our school buildings and provide virtual options for those who do not. In addition, we have provided a link on the website for questions and comments. The District will answer the questions through the FAQ document on the website. The document will continue to be updated through September 1, 2020.
We are asking each family to review the Academic Framework and the Health and Safety Plan Summary posted on the District website, then identify the option they want for each school aged child in their household for the 20-21 school year. The parent survey results will assist the District in determining the numbers of students returning to school and those choosing virtual instruction from the home. Each nine week period, the District will check in with families to see if they intend to continue in their current option or if they plan to switch. Note that due to the synchronous nature of Options A and B, families who want to change options prior to the end of the nine weeks will be asked to contact their building principal to discuss changing options.
We look forward to a wonderful school year. Please click the link for the survey (https://forms.gle/pkKneHqGaG6HEpyJ9 ). Remember to take the survey for each school aged child in your household. Surveys are due by Wednesday, August 12 at 4:00pm. Thank you for your patience and assistance as we finalize plans for the fall.
Dr. Shannon L. Wagner
1COVID Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry, American Academy of Pediatrics. aap.org, 6/25/2020