Important Information Regarding School Reopening

August 19, 2020

As you know, questions and concerns about the reopening of schools in the midst of this pandemic continue to consume our nation. Like every other school district in our region, we have been working continually and planning for multiple scenarios in light of shifting guidance from state and local authorities. Our goal is to return our students to school, in person, and safely.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released new guidance for schools and recommendations for in-person instruction based on local health data. The Department also issued a directive that all students must wear masks in school, even when seated six feet apart. This directive also follows the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance on this issue.

As we incorporate this guidance into our reopening plans, and work to provide the safest possible educational experience, our Administrative Team is reevaluating our reopening plans. We are recommending to our School Board that we:

  • Delay the start of this school year by one week, to allow for the additional time, training, and hiring needed to incorporate the new guidance. This would make the first day of school Tuesday, September 8th. This change would shift professional development days that had been scheduled throughout the school year to this first week. A revised school calendar would be distributed once approved by our School Board.

  • Conduct student orientation with a hybrid schedule during the first week of school. This will allow for smaller groups of students, divided alphabetically, to meet their teachers, receive and become familiar with new devices and software, and become accustomed to new school procedures such as social distancing and mask wearing.

  • Conduct the second and third weeks of school with a hybrid model that would allow for each regular education student to attend in-person two days per week. Each student would attend either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, and participate in virtual learning during the other three days of the week. On Wednesdays, all students would participate virtually while teachers are planning and conducting office hours and small-group virtual meetings. Please see the schedule for regular education students.
    • Special education students will attend school four days per week during the three weeks of the hybrid model, and participate virtually on Wednesdays during weeks two and three. Please see the schedule for special education students.

  • Students enrolled in the Souderton Area Online Academy (SAOA) would also begin school on Tuesday, September 8th, with a virtual orientation program. SAOA students would participate in virtual learning every school day with no interruptions or days off. A detailed daily schedule for SAOA students will be published soon.

  • All students who have selected our in-person model would return to school full time beginning the week of September 28th, with social distancing and masks - provided that COVID-19 testing positivity rate remains below 5%, per the Montgomery County Health Department’s guidelines for safe return to schools. As of August 19th, 2020, this rate is 2.9%.

Please see the recommended schedule for regular education in-person students during September.
Please see the recommended schedule for special education in-person students during September.

As an increasing number of schools across our region have moved to begin the school year virtually, our own staff has been impacted by these changes. In order to provide adequate staffing to accommodate both a hybrid and online option, our District is still in the process of hiring additional teachers. The move to begin the year a week later, and with a hybrid option, will allow us time to complete the hiring process and prepare all staff members for new challenges.

Our School Board continues to recognize and react to these ever-changing circumstances. The Board in coordination with the administration is working to take the measures necessary to fulfill our mission while carefully considering and mitigating the economic consequences. While the Board recognizes its fiduciary responsibility to all school district stakeholders, the Board also seeks to provide a complete and high-quality educational experience for our students and community. The School Board will vote on the changes to the plan on Thursday, August 27th. Please visit our Web site for information on meetings of the School Board.

The Souderton Area School District remains committed to reopening our schools to provide in-person instruction for our students. We know that in-person schooling is vital to the healthy development of our children. We understand this change will be frustrating and upsetting for some of our parents, while others will be pleased. Our goal remains to provide the best possible educational experience for all of our students, and we will do all we can to make this school year a positive one.

Sincerely,


Frank Gallagher 

Frank T. Gallagher, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Ken Keith

Ken Keith
School Board President