Dear Parents and Guardians:
I’m sure many of you are experiencing great anxiety over what school is going to look like in the fall. As I have said previously, I’m trying to limit communication to when I have something concrete to convey that adds clarity to our students’ return. As I am sure you are well aware, the state has given little notice when changing guidelines or restrictions, and, in most cases, doesn’t consider schools. My colleagues and I have been speaking with state legislators in hopes of getting more clear, direct guidance from the Department of Health and the Department of Education. It is my understanding that the State Department of Health will provide additional guidance in the next few days. With that said, we are poised to offer three different and distinct options, all dependent on which phase we are in and which restrictions are in place at the given time. Even though our final detailed plan will not be complete and posted until July 28, I wanted to give you more information with regard to options, but again, as you know, the state can change its course at any time. We still believe that the best option for our students is returning to school in person, but we understand that not every child and family share the same circumstances.
Option A: Full-time in-person instruction with minimal mitigation - Minimal mitigation means that precautions and mitigation will be taken in food service, transportation (when possible), and facilities (specialized cleaning and improved ventilation) and that face shields will be provided, but optional for staff and students. If there is a state mandate on face coverings (like there is currently), students and staff that suffer from mental and/or physical health issues from the coverings do not have to wear them. Daily temperature checks will be required at home before coming to school, and social distancing will be followed when possible. Students that have compromised immune systems or other health issues putting them at risk will have special adaptations to make returning to school as safe as possible. If you choose option A, and we are required to go online full-time because of state or county imposed restrictions, our classroom teachers will be using Canvas, which is much more robust and comprehensive compared to what we used in the spring. We also plan to increase “live” interaction should we have to go online full-time, based on feedback from the Spring.
Option B: Full-time online West Jefferson Hills Cyber program - This option is for students K-12 and students may remain in the program for the entire year. Families may choose to send their students back to school anytime after the first nine weeks if they desire. The program is offered through a partnership with Edgenuity and the Seneca Valley School District. The teachers in the program are our teachers, and the program is run by Ms. Jodi Merwin who is one of our administrators. The great majority of the coursework is asynchronous and self-paced, but students will have “live” access to teachers. The advantage of this program over other cyber programs is that we use our teachers, and students are eligible to participate in all school activities, athletics, and programming. Reintegrating them back into the brick and mortar school is also much easier after being in our cyber program.
Option C: This will only occur if students are enrolled in Option A, and we move back into the yellow phase or are given mandates such as social distancing that are required, but cannot be met because of cost or space requirements. Students will attend school in-person one or two days a week. When students are not in school, instruction will occur over Canvas, combining both asynchronous and synchronous activities.
We will be sending out another parent survey in the next few days. It is critical that everyone fill one out for each child. To be clear, if were going back today, it would be under Option A with parents having the flexibility to choose Option B. Also, if you know for sure at this time that you want to enroll your children in our full-time cyber program, please call your building principal, and we can get them scheduled. The more information we have from parents, the better we can craft the details of our plans moving forward. Please understand that in order to be successful we will need cooperation and patience from everyone. This is unchartered territory for all of us, but you can rest easy knowing there will be an option to fit the needs of your children and family. I am also planning to hold a virtual forum sometime in the next week to continue dialogue and answer questions parents may have.
Dr. Michael Ghilani
Superintendent of Schools