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Community Update 11.25.20

Dear Coatesville Area School District Community,

Last evening, November 24, 2020, our School Board voted to approve an administrative recommendation to remain in virtual instruction until January for most CASD students, based on the trajectory of the virus within our community, as well as state health department recommendations impacting the manner in which schools operate, including a mandatory quarantine for those who travel out of the Commonwealth for Thanksgiving, mask requirements, and updated guidance on school operations.

The approved reopening recommendation includes the following components:

1.Low-incidence special education students who have been in-person will remain in-person. 

2.A second group of full-time, supplemental special education and English Language Learner students will attend in-person beginning Thursday, December 10.

3.TCHS programming will resume on Wednesday, December 9. 

4.Transportation will be provided for these groups of students. Parents of these returning students will receive thorough bussing information via email by December 3.

5.We will continue to closely monitor the trajectory of the virus and consult with health officials to determine a return date for all CASD students as we get deeper into December. 

We understand the frustration and disappointment that most of our CASD students have not been able to attend in-person instruction this school year. Our initial plan called for a return to in-person instruction on November 9, after the mandatory Chester County Health Department order for virtual instruction had ended.  As you know, we encountered significant and unacceptable transportation scheduling challenges at that time. We have been working diligently to resolve these issues and anticipate being able to restore transportation to all students in December.  

Now, the challenges of the virus are impacting our ability to safely offer in-person instruction. Furthermore, the PA Department of Education is now requiring new school districts to sign a form – an attestation – saying they will either move to virtual instruction when COVID transmission in a community is substantial for more than two weeks in a row, or, that they will follow the state’s directive of when to close a school based on the number of cases. This makes it very likely that many schools will be forced to move to virtual instruction in order to comply with the requirements. 

For anyone traveling out of state for Thanksgiving, Pennsylvania is requiring residents to provide either a negative COVID-19 test upon return to work/school or is asking them to quarantine for two weeks. This quarantine, as well as a significant surge in COVID-19 cases across our region, has caused many neighboring school districts to move to virtual instruction for at least a portion of their student population after Thanksgiving. This two-week period takes us to December 14. Health experts do not anticipate that cases will be much lower at that time. Again, we will continue to carefully monitor virus numbers and will decide on a January return date. 

In the meantime, parents/guardians can expect to get detailed, thorough information about their child’s bus schedule, including information about transfer points (including staffing at these points to assist their children) by December 14. This includes all CASD students, and non-public students that our district transports.  

We are very eager to have our students back in our schools as soon as it is safe and feasible for us to provide in-person instruction. Thank you for your support as we work our way through this very challenging school year.

The last 10-months have been unbelievably challenging for our students, their families, our communities, and the entire CASD staff. During this time of thanks and appreciation, my sincere hope is that we are all able to recharge and gear up for the challenges that await us. I am confident that this community will continue to lock arms and, with our students at the center, focus on how best we can serve our students. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

In unity,

Tomás Hanna