Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Reopening for the 2020-2021 School Year

Questions will continue to be added to this list.
Updated August 20, 2020

Use the links below for answers to frequently asked questions during regarding the 2020-2021 school year:

FAQs - 7/23/2020

  1. What guidelines did the District follow in developing its School Reopening Plan?
  2. How will you communicate the District’s new policies/procedures for the 2020-21 school year?
  3. What are my choices for the 2020-21 school year?
  4. What are the District’s plans if schools have to close again at some point during the 2020-21 school year?
  5. How is Souderton Area Online Academy different from the instruction students will receive if the District is ordered to close again?
  6. How will SAOA and the District’s remote learning be different than what was taught online in the spring?
  7. Will all the safety procedures in place for the reopening of school remain for the entire school year?
  8. Will students eat lunch in the cafeteria?
  9. Will you be altering class sizes or capping class sizes at a certain limit to allow for social distancing?
  10. Will students have to wear masks?
  11. Will you have plastic dividers around student desks?
  12. Will there be fall sports?
  13. Will the school district try to prepare students for a different kind of school day, given that some social distancing and some mask-wearing will be in place?
  14. Will a student be able to change their selection for an option (in person or Souderton Area Online Academy) during the school year?
  15. What is your plan to educate students who have to quarantine but who are healthy enough to keep up with instruction?
  16. What if a student gets sick or is exposed to a person with COVID-19?

FAQs - 7/28/2020

  1. How do I enroll my child in the Souderton Area Online Academy (SAOA)?
  2. How long must a student commit to enrollment in the Online Academy?
  3. Will my child receive a device?
  4. If my child returns to In-Person school after a trimester/semester, will she have the same teacher(s)?
  5. How are SAOA students affected if SASD schools close again?
  6. Why aren’t all courses at the high school level being offered in SAOA?
  7. My high school student was scheduled for honors-level courses. Will there be an honors option?
  8. Will there be any other opportunities for high school students to receive credit for courses that aren’t offered in SAOA?
  9. Why isn’t a hybrid option being considered in SASD?

FAQs - 7/31/2020

  1. When will the full list of SAOA high school course offerings be made available?
  2. I've heard that other local school districts have decided to start the school year fully online. Is SASD considering this?

FAQs - 8/20/2020

  1. What happens following the identification of a confirmed case of COVID-19?



Q1: What guidelines did the District follow in developing its School Reopening Plan? 

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Souderton Area School District is following guidelines and considerations established by numerous agencies and organizations, including the Montgomery and Bucks County Departments of Health. We are also working closely with other districts in the region to implement common protocols. It is, however, the responsibility of local school districts to determine what safety measures are reasonable and feasible.  


 

Q2: How will you communicate the District’s new policies/procedures for the 2020-21 school year?
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We will communicate thoroughly with students, parents, and staff about the many new policies and procedures that will come with the 2020-21 school year. We will be working closely with local and state Departments of Health to develop policies, including the ways in which reporting will occur if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID. We will post the information on our Web site and share it with our community.

 


Q3: What are my choices for the 2020-21 school year?
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Students can attend in-person school as outlined in the District’s reopening plan, or they choose to enroll in Souderton Area Online Academy (SAOA), the District’s K-12 fully online option for the 2020-21 school year, which will be taught by Souderton Area School District teachers. Students can transfer back to brick and mortar buildings at semester/trimester breaks. Even if the District must close again during the school year, SAOA students will continue their program of study in an uninterrupted manner.

 


Q4: What are the District’s plans if schools have to close again at some point during the 2020-21 school year?
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In the event of another closure, we will provide virtual learning for all students, and expect to provide a greater degree of live instruction and interaction for students than was provided in the spring.

 


Q5: How is Souderton Area Online Academy different from the instruction students will receive if the District is ordered to close again?
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The programs will be parallel. SAOA students will remain with their SAOA classmates in their online classrooms, and brick and mortar students will continue to be taught by their classroom teachers. Both are different from the At Home Learning offered last spring.

 


Q6: How will SAOA and the District’s remote learning be different than what was taught online in the spring?
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In the spring, the entire country was shocked by the nationwide closure of schools and businesses. Our school district (and others around the country) had just days to build an online program to continue to deliver instruction. We had to work quickly to provide devices to all students, and to train staff on best practices in online learning and the use of technology needed to make it successful. We have learned a great deal and are now much better prepared to provide not only the technology to make this program successful, but also the training and structure for our teachers to deliver high quality online instruction.

 


Q7: Will all the safety procedures in place for the reopening of school remain for the entire school year?
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Procedures such as frequent hand washing and staying home from school if you are sick are best practices that should remain across the school district. Other restrictions could possibly be eased depending upon relevant data and guidance at the time.

 


Q8: Will students eat lunch in the cafeteria?
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Yes. In circumstances where extra space is needed, additional spaces within the school may be utilized for lunch.

 


Q9: Will you be altering class sizes or capping class sizes at a certain limit to allow for social distancing?
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Yes. If classroom spaces are not adequate to provide social distancing, those class sizes will be limited.

 


Q10: Will students have to wear masks?
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In compliance with the state order, students will have to wear face coverings (either masks or shields) except when:

  • Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart;
  • Seated at desks or assigned workspaces at least 6 feet apart;
  • Engaged in any activity at least 6 feet apart (e.g., face covering breaks, recess, etc.); or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

All students will be also required to wear face masks/shields in specific circumstances, including:

  • School buses and other transportation vehicles
  • Nurse’s suites
  • Gang bathrooms and locker rooms
  • When passing between classes
  • Whenever instructed by staff to do so because social distance of 6 feet or more cannot be maintained

 


Q11: Will you have plastic dividers around student desks?
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Dividers will be utilized for many interactions when social distancing isn’t practical, such as a child receiving a speech therapy session from a therapist. They will not be used around every student desk.

 


Q12: Will there be fall sports?
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The District is awaiting guidance from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) on the commencement of fall sports. As of July, many athletes and band members have been engaged in summer activities on school campuses under strict safety guidelines.

 


Q13: Will the school district try to prepare students for a different kind of school day, given that some social distancing and some mask-wearing will be in place?
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Yes. The district will actively work to prepare and acclimate students, and make the return to school as positive as possible. We will be sensitive to the mental and emotional health needs and concerns of our students and families.

 


Q14: Will a student be able to change their selection for an option (in person or Souderton Area Online Academy) during the school year?
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We are asking students to commit to the Online Academy or our In-Person program for one full trimester or semester to provide for adequate staffing.

 


Q15: What is your plan to educate students who have to quarantine but who are healthy enough to keep up with instruction?
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Students who have to quarantine will be able to continue to engage in their lessons via Schoology to continue learning while they are out of school.

 


Q16: What if a student gets sick or is exposed to a person with COVID-19?
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District schools will follow the Montgomery County Department of Health’s School Exclusion Requirements for sick or exposed individuals.

 


Q17: How do I enroll my child in the Souderton Area Online Academy (SAOA)?
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Parents must select an option for each child’s return to school by completing the "In-Person or Online Academy Selection" form no later than August 7, 2020.

 


Q18: How long must a student commit to enrollment in the Online Academy?
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Elementary students must commit to at least one trimester, secondary students must commit to at least one semester. At the end of the trimester/semester, students will have the option to return to In-Person school. It is expected that all students who remain in the Online Academy for the 2020-2021 school year will return to In-Person school in 2021-2022.

 


Q19: Will my child receive a device?
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Yes. All students will be issued a one-to-one device at the start of school whether they attend In-Person or SAOA.

 


Q20: If my child returns to In-Person school after a trimester/semester, will she have the same teacher(s)?
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Elementary and middle school SAOA students will receive instruction from teachers assigned to teach exclusively in SAOA. Upon transfer back to In-Person school, an elementary or middle school student would have different teachers. At the high school level, SAOA courses will be taught by high school teachers as part of their regular teaching schedules. Because of the natural schedule changes at the semester break for high school students, these students would also have different teachers upon return to In-Person school.

 


Q21: How are SAOA students affected if SASD schools close again?
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If all SASD schools close again due to a state or local order, it is anticipated that the closure would be on a temporary basis. Therefore, all SAOA students would remain enrolled in SAOA as planned.

 


Q22: Why aren’t all courses at the high school level being offered in SAOA?
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The Souderton Area High School Program of Studies includes over 190 courses for students to choose from over the course of their high school careers. It is not possible for SAOA to offer every one of these courses in both an In-Person and Online Academy model based upon the number of staff members assigned at the high school level. Additionally, some courses are not adaptable to a virtual format.

 


Q23: My high school student was scheduled for honors-level courses. Will there be an honors option?
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Certain courses, including honors, which do not appear on the Sample Schedule may be added to the final list of course offerings where possible based on demand. Once the selection period has ended, the administration will review each student’s course requests (received from students in school last winter) and use that data to inform SAOA staffing decisions.

 


Q24: Will there be any other opportunities for high school students to receive credit for courses that aren’t offered in SAOA?
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We are collaborating with the Montgomery County Community College to offer additional dual-enrollment courses to SAOA students at a reduced cost. Details of these course offerings will be made available in mid-August as soon as the partnership with the College is confirmed.


Q25: Why isn’t a hybrid option being considered in SASD?
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Some area school districts are developing hybrid schedules which would allow half of the students to attend in-person on given days, with the other half attending other days. SASD is currently not planning a hybrid schedule for a number of reasons: (a) our facilities are well-prepared to manage the populations of students and staff expected to return with precautions in place including enhanced hygiene and sanitizing practices as well as physical distancing and mask-wearing where necessary: (b) the student population of SAOA will reduce class-sizes for In-Person instruction, thereby allowing for increased physical distancing; (c) the burden a hybrid schedule would place on parents in need of child care; and (d) the critical role that schooling plays in child development and learning (see The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall from the CDC).

 


Q26: When will the full list of SAOA high school course offerings be made available?
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Based upon existing course requests of the students who have already elected SAOA, additional courses have been added to the list of course offerings. Please see the SAOA Course Catalog for 2020-2021, High School link for the current list of offerings. As additional students enroll, more course offerings may be added. Students will then be asked to register for their courses in preparation for the start of the school year.


Q27: I've heard that other local school districts have decided to start the school year fully online. Is SASD considering this?
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As of today (7/31/2020), we are still planning to open schools for students on September 1 with the added SAOA online option for those students who choose not to return. The administration and school board are closely monitoring local developments and will continue to base decisions on what is best for students' health and education.

 


Q28: What happens following the identification of a confirmed case of COVID-19?
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When a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified, the District follows the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Recommendations for Pre-K to 12 Schools Following Identification of a Confirmed Case of COVID-19.