March 11, 2020
Dear T/E Staff and Families,
As conditions with COVID-19 continue to evolve, I am writing to provide additional information about the TESD response. District administrators have been focused on receiving the most up-to-date information about the virus and its prevalence, communicating with local officials virtually and in person, and developing protocols with state and county health authorities. We realize this matter weighs heavily on all of us.
We continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH), and the Chester County Health Department (CCHD). We also remain in regular contact with the CCHD regarding any TESD students or staff affected by COVID-19. As of 4:40 PM today, the CCHD has confirmed there are no cases of COVID-19 in Chester County.
My March 6 letter conveyed that we would discuss the TESD response to COVID-19 at tonight’s Board Education Committee meeting. This response plan was created in collaboration with the CCHD and other Chester County school districts. Because of the dynamic nature of the spread of COVID-19, our plan is designed to guide the District’s response while maintaining flexibility based on health department recommendations and unexpected developments.
The plan has three components: Monitoring, Limiting/Postponing, and Closing. To date, our response has primarily been in the Monitoring component. Since the presence of COVID-19 has increased regionally and nationally, we now intend to implement some aspects of the Limiting/Postponing component, which are outlined below:
- All District-sponsored student field trips and staff conferences outside of TESD schools are postponed through April 12th (Spring Break). Student and staff travel between District schools, including field trips and other activities, is still permitted.
- All facility rentals are canceled through April 12th, except for rentals that are taking place exclusively on outdoor District property (e.g. fields).
- Most other District-sponsored athletics and extra-curricular activities will continue at this time, but modifications may be necessary on a case-by-case basis. School-based communications will provide updates as needed.
- As of now, A Child’s Place has informed the District that they intend to follow our opening/closing status for their program in our schools.
As you may know, several schools in our region have experienced a one-day closure this week. We remain in close contact with the CCHD, and their guidance continues to be that all TESD schools remain open. They are not currently recommending any broad-based school closings in Chester County. We are aware, however, that this guidance could change at any time.
At tonight’s Education Committee meeting, we will share our plans for potential one-day and multiple-day school closures. In addition, we will share plans to deliver our educational program in the event of an extended school closure. You may see additional materials being sent home with your child in the coming days to be used in such circumstances.
In order to allow teachers to prepare for a potential distance learning situation, an inservice day may be scheduled within the next week. The results of the discussion this evening regarding the provisional school closing plan, distance learning plan, and any changes to the school calendar related to an inservice day will be shared tomorrow morning.
Evaluating Reports of COVID-19 in TESD
We have received questions about the District’s response when a specific case of possible COVID-19 exposure is brought to our attention. To clarify, we immediately contact the CCHD to share the information we have learned. The CCHD determines the appropriate level of investigation and provides guidance on the District’s response. The CCHD will also contact us if they have learned of a potential exposure. To date, no county or state agency has learned anything that has led to an advisory to close any TESD school.
If you have concerns about yourself or a member of the TESD community being exposed to COVID-19, you are encouraged to contact the Chester County Health Department at 610-344-6225. We have also created a District email account, HealthInfo@tesd.net to share questions, comments, or concerns related to COVID-19.
Student absences related to COVID-19, including medical self-isolation or a family decision to keep a child home from school, will be excused. Please submit an excuse note to the school as you would for other absences.
Based on some of the questions and comments we have received from community members, it is apparent that there is a wide range of emotions associated with COVID-19. Although everyone has expressed concern with health and safety, individual parents and staff members have various feelings on how to respond to COVID-19. Some of our community members may feel we are being overly cautious, or not cautious enough. We will continue to monitor and confer with health authorities to guide our responses.
Tomorrow, I will share updated information about our plans for potential one-day and multiple-day school closures, our distance learning plan, and any changes to the school calendar as a result of tonight’s discussion at the Board Education Committee meeting. Thank you for your continued cooperation and support.
Dr. Richard Gusick
Superintendent of Schools