July 9, 2020
Dear East Penn Students and Families,
In early June, we presented a Fall 2020 Reopening Plan to the East Penn SD Board of School Directors. That plan included three general models: traditional, hybrid, and remote on a continuum based on guidance available at that time. In conjunction with the Reopening Plan, we also sent out a parent survey to gather feedback on all three models as well as challenges all families experienced during the unexpected closure at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
A few weeks after the June presentation and survey, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released new reopening guidance and a comprehensive report prepared in partnership with the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic at Mathematica. This report summarizes existing research on COVID-19 and generates a Pennsylvania-specific body of research—both qualitative and quantitative—that can inform decision making around completion of local health and safety plans, preparations for resumption of in-person teaching and learning, and development of supports for student and staff wellness—with attention to equity throughout.
Original local and state guidance in early June included CDC Guidelines and 6 ft. of social distancing along with other safety protocols. The latest research based guidance released by the state also includes World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines of 3-6 ft. of social distancing along with other safety protocols that greatly reduce the potential for Covid-19 transmission.
Based on the latest release of guidance and current “Green” status for Lehigh County, East Penn continues to plan to reopen schools in Fall 2020 with face-to-face instruction for all EPSD students to the maximum extent possible while adhering to health and safety guidelines. This plan will include a remote learning option that is more rigorous than the Continuity of Learning program utilized for the Spring 2020 closure. This remote learning option taught by East Penn teachers will be available for any student or family who does not wish to return for in-person learning in the fall.
On July 13th, the board and public will be presented with a Health and Safety Plan developed by our Health and Safety Task Force. This group, composed of multiple stakeholders, reviewed the feedback of almost 5000 families and our faculty and staff. This plan will outline specific policies, strategies, and procedures on the anticipated safe reopening for the East Penn School District for the 2020-21 school year.
Shortly thereafter, we will once again need your input and commitment in a survey response that indicates your plans to send your student to school for the in-person learning model presented in the Health and Safety plan or opt for a totally remote learning experience for your student(s). This information and your commitment is essential to adequately plan for both our in-person and remote logistics.
Thank you for your continued patience and support of our East Penn schools. We realize this is a tremendously uncertain time. Our foremost goal is to ensure that our students—your children—return to school for the 2020-21 school year in a safe and supportive manner.
Superintendent of Schools