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District Reopening Information 7-17-2020

Dear Coatesville Area School District Families and Staff,

I hope you are having a restful summer so far and staying healthy and safe. I am writing today to share an update about our planning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Our commitment to health and safety drives everything that we do. It drove the transition to remote learning this past March, when closing school buildings was essential to flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection across Pennsylvania. As you know, it was profoundly challenging, but you and your children handled it with effort, patience and flexibility, and school communities came together to make it work. As we have reflected on our practice, we are in the process of making needed adjustments to ensure we meet the needs of our students for the upcoming school year.   

Now, almost four months later, our commitment to health and safety will drive us into the new school year. We have been through so much together, and as we look to September; we see a continuing rise in cases across the country. As the pandemic has continued to evolve, so has guidance from County, State, and Federal health authorities and agencies.

I would like to thank you for responding to our survey asking about preferences and concerns for the upcoming year. Your input has been critical in our planning. What is clear is that this is much bigger than an education issue; it is a health and safety issue, and we must be prepared to adapt. What is also clear is we will begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing, and more.

Our re-opening plan is in the process of being drafted and it has changed numerous times given the shift in guidance. Just yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) issued guidance to schools, and we are reviewing it to see what additional changes we much consider. At the bottom of this note you will see a timeline of our decision-making process.

Our primary goal is to bring students and staff back to school five days a week. Many families want as much in-person instruction as is safely possible, however, the more we see what is happening across the country, the more I believe this goal is becoming less realistic under rapidly changing guidance. A key component of our plan will include the opportunities for any family to choose all-remote learning, for any reason. A model we are exploring is a hybrid model in which some students are taught on-site in school for part of the week, and attend school remotely on the other days of the week. I have been in conversations with my colleagues throughout Chester County about this model as well as others. It requires detailed planning and as plans emerge, I will communicate the feasibility of them to you.

Our plans must be flexible so we can adjust and update as needed, as the public health landscape continues to evolve. Please remember that this guidance may change as public health conditions evolve. Our administrative team understands the anxiety surrounding this issue. We feel it, as well. We will work with you every step of the way to answer questions around scheduling, transportation, what happens if there is a confirmed case in a school, and much more. I am committed to doing everything I can to thoroughly communicate and try to make the school year as positive and supportive as possible - and I will not compromise on health and safety. 

Thank you for your patience and support as we move forward to try to best serve our students in this challenging time. As shared at the board meeting, this coming Tuesday, July 21st at 5:00 PM, we will hold a virtual community forum, at which time we will share our current re-opening strategy. A link for viewing the meeting will be posted to the homepage of the District website.

Sincerely,

Tomas Hanna, Superintendent