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Lower Merion School District

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Oct. 23, 2020, Update from the Superintendent
Oct. 23, 2020, Update from the Superintendent

Dear LMSD Families,

I hope you are well. I am so pleased to share that we have successfully completed our first week with all of our students taking part in in-person instruction in our hybrid models. I have visited our elementary, middle and high schools and can report that the students, teachers and staff are excited to be together and are a doing a very good job of following our health and safety guidelines – wearing masks, maintaining distance and washing/sanitizing their hands frequently.

Of course, compliance isn't perfect. Our administrators are reminding everyone that we all have an obligation to protect each other by following these simple rules and taking appropriate steps to ensure everyone's safety. We are counting on our families to exercise good judgment outside of school as well, including avoiding social activities where COVID-19 could be spread. When we do have confirmed cases within LMSD, the impacted school community will be notified and the COVID-19 dashboard will be updated. The Health Department or Student Health Services will call exposed individuals directly. If you are not called by the Health Department or Student Health Services, you are not considered exposed. To protect patient confidentiality, the District will not share additional identifying information beyond what is listed on the dashboard.

We are also counting on families to screen students daily, using the questions in the screening tool. If you are unsure whether to send a child to school, please err on the side of caution, keep them home and contact your healthcare provider or the school nurse for additional guidance. We understand that students may miss more school days this year because of this cautious approach and because of mandated periods of isolation and quarantine. In the coming days, we will be sharing updates to our attendance policies and practices that take these conditions into account.

We are also looking ahead. Though the weather this week has been quite warm, it will change and we know that winter weather means the possibility of snow days. Due to the transportation complexities of our dual hybrid model, we will be unable to call for weather-related late openings or early dismissals. And we definitely don't want to take the chance that children might be stranded in enclosed buses together for any extended period of time.

Therefore, I wanted to let you know now that we will be canceling in-person instruction on days when there is a forecast of snow or ice that could impact safe travel. On these days, all students will engage in remote instruction, following the instructional model in place at the time. In our current hybrid model, that means high school students should sign on for their first class at 7:30 a.m., middle school students should sign on for their first class at 8:00 a.m. and elementary students should sign on at 9:00 a.m. We will give families as much notice as possible if we anticipate calling for a weather-related remote instructional day and remind students to bring their devices home.

As a reminder, if a weather-related remote instruction day will occur, the following notification methods will be used:

  • Emails and phone calls to all staff
  • Emails to families who have email addresses in PowerSchool
  • Note: NO phone calls to families are made between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
  • Posting on the District Website
  • Posting on the District Facebook page
  • Tweet on the District Twitter account (@LowerMerionSD)
  • Message on the District emergency hotline: (610) 645-0143
  • Message on the LMSD-TV channel: Xfinity Channel 22, Fios Channel 36
  • Information on local TV and radio news outlets

At Monday's meeting of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors, I publicly thanked all of our teachers, staff and administrators who have worked so hard to safely return our students to in-person instruction. I want to reiterate that gratitude here and also thank all of you, the parents and guardians, who have remained flexible in the face of so many challenges and who have encouraged your children's resilience through this unprecedented time. I know that we will all continue to work together as a community for the benefit of our students in the weeks and months ahead.

Sincerely,

Robert Copeland
Superintendent

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