Reopening Schools: 2020-2021
November 18, 2020 Update
Dear T/E Families and Staff,
As we shared last week, the Chester County Health Department (CCHD) reported COVID-19 data that reflects very high community transmission in Chester County for the weeks of November 2 and November 9. We anticipate the numbers that will be reported this coming Friday will again be in the very high category, which will mark three weeks of community transmission at the highest level.
As a result, the T/E School District will move from hybrid instruction to all virtual instruction for all students beginning Monday, November 23 through Friday, December 4. Parent conferences will proceed virtually as planned.
In addition to guidance from the CCHD and other health authorities, TESD considered many factors:
- Health authorities are concerned about the potential for increased community spread of COVID-19 in the days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. Keeping students at home after Thanksgiving allows time for new cases to be identified and contained before students would return to school buildings.
- At this time, the CCHD and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDOH) have indicated that there is substantial community spread within Chester County and surrounding counties. Health authorities indicate that when a region maintains a very high presence of COVID-19, schools begin to see in-school transmission. TESD is responding proactively to reduce this risk.
- Although the level of positive cases of COVID-19 has been low with staff and students in our schools, the number of teachers and students who have needed to self-isolate due to potential contact with confirmed positive cases has dramatically risen, with 143 students and staff needing to quarantine during the week of November 9.
Returning to Hybrid Instruction
TESD understands the importance of in-person instruction, and we intend to return to hybrid instruction as pandemic conditions permit. Based on new guidance from CCHD, we will be monitoring countywide transmission data, prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and schools, as well as our ability to staff our schools and buses. We have created a plan to return to hybrid instruction as conditions and circumstances allow:
- Monday, December 7 – Identified students with special needs returning to school buildings.
- Thursday, December 10 – Our regular hybrid schedule resumes for elementary students, with students in cohort L-Z who selected hybrid instruction returning to school buildings. This allows for a 14-day period from Thanksgiving and a 10-day period from the end of the break.
- Monday, December 14 – Our regular hybrid schedule resumes for all students in grades K-12, with students in cohort A-K who selected hybrid instruction returning to school buildings.
We must emphasize that these dates are tentative. TESD will provide updates to families as we get closer to each date listed above. We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work to determine the best time to bring students back safely into our school buildings.
New Pennsylvania Health and Safety Orders
On November 17, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced updated face covering and traveler testing orders. The updated face covering order took effect at midnight last night and the traveler testing order takes effect Friday, November 20. These orders will be enforced in our school buildings and on school grounds.
Face Covering Order
- When outdoors, face coverings must be worn at all times if an individual is not able to remain physically distant (at least 6 feet away) from someone who lives in a different household.
- When indoors, face coverings are now required even when physically distant from individuals from outside of the household. This means that even when 6 feet apart, a face covering must be worn while inside if visiting with people from other households.
Traveler Testing Order
- Pennsylvanians visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their return to Pennsylvania or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania. When TESD returns to in-person instruction, students will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test or attend school virtually while completing the recommended quarantine.
- Anyone who visits from another state is to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering Pennsylvania.
Due to pandemic conditions and the shift to all virtual instruction, there will be no athletic or extra-curricular activities from November 23 through at least December 4. At this time, there has not been a decision made as to when the winter sports season will begin. The District Athletic Office will share information with families as it becomes available.
Helping Our Neighbors
TESD understands that many of our families may be experiencing ongoing challenges and financial hardship due to the pandemic, especially in the area of food insecurity. We would like to remind all TESD families that free breakfast and lunch meals are available for students, regardless of whether your children participate in hybrid or virtual instruction. You do not need to meet eligibility criteria in order to receive the meals. The link to register for the free meals is available on the TESD website and you may pick up the meals every Wednesday at Conestoga High School. If you are unable to pick up your meals, please contact TESD Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor Dave Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org to make other arrangements.
In addition, if your family is in need of anything else at this time, or if you would like to donate to families in our community, please reach out confidentially to Dr. Oscar Torres, TorresO@tesd.net or Jeanne Braun, BraunJ@tesd.net.
As we prepare to move back to virtual instruction next week, I am grateful that we were able to have TESD students in our schools for the last six weeks. Students and families are to be commended for their attention to the health and safety protocols, and our staff deserves recognition for planning and delivering an incredibly challenging hybrid model of integrated instruction. I am hopeful that pandemic conditions will soon allow a safe return to school.
Dr. Richard Gusick
Superintendent of Schools