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Lower Merion School District

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Update from Supt. Copeland for the Coming Weeks

Dear LMSD Families,

Thank you for your patience this week as our Administrators and Board members sought guidance from public health experts, received feedback from community members and looked at operational considerations within our District to make a determination about our instructional model for the coming weeks. Thank you also for your efforts to get our students to school in light of the shutdown of our Transportation Department.

This afternoon, the Montgomery County Board of Health ordered all schools to revert to fully remote instruction from Nov. 23-Dec. 4, 2020. As I mentioned in my update Wednesday, it had been our hope to remain open in our hybrid model next week. However, we felt it necessary to further evaluate our ability to safely and equitably educate our students in light of rising incidence and positivity rates in our area and the disproportionate impact of the Transportation Department shutdown on elementary students whose families cannot get them to school.

As promised, here is our current plan. As always, this plan is subject to change, depending on governmental orders, changes in the public health circumstances within our community and our operational abilities:

Nov. 16-20, 2020

K-5: Fully remote instruction

  • Students will follow their current (hybrid) schedule, with both cohorts participating in synchronous am or pm instruction via technology from home
  • Identified special education students who started in-person instruction on either September 14 or October 5 may report for in-person instruction, but NO transportation will be provided. Should that status change, you will be contacted by the Student Services Department
  • Principals and teachers will communicate additional information about picking up needed devices and other learning resources

Grades 6-12: Remain in current hybrid model, with NO transportation

  • Students who cannot/choose not to attend in-person instruction should join their cohorts via technology
  • Students who participate remotely will not be penalized

Nov. 23-Dec. 4, 2020

K-12: Fully Remote Instruction

  • As ordered by the Montgomery County Board of Public Health
  • Elementary Schools will follow their current (hybrid) schedule, with both cohorts participating in synchronous am or pm instruction via technology from home
  • Middle Schools will follow their current (hybrid) schedule, with both cohorts participating via technology from home
  • High Schools will return to the Remote Learning Schedule they followed at the beginning of the school year
  • Note: Nov. 26-27 all schools and offices will be closed for Thanksgiving Break

Dec. 7-23, 2020

K-12: To Be Determined

Dec. 24, 2020 – Jan. 1. 2021

All Schools Closed: Winter Break

Jan. 4-8, 2021

K-12: To Be Determined

Following a fully remote schedule after the holiday breaks will allow time for any exposures that happen over the holidays to level off before students and staff return to the congregate settings of our schools. We will consider implementing a fully remote model after Winter Break as well.

Families who want to arrange free meal pickups can do so by signing up here or by calling 610-645-1990.

The LMSD Virtual Learning Toolkit is accessible here.

We are keenly aware that these changes to our instructional models have far-reaching implications for our students, their families and our community. These are difficult decisions. As always, our top priority is the physical and emotional health and safety of our students and staff. And, as with all LMSD decisions, we look through an Equity lens to ensure that no group of students is impacted more harshly than another, which is essential to our mission and the goals of our Strategic Plan. In deciding to provide secondary students with two days next week of in-person instruction, we considered that elementary students started in-person instruction prior to secondary students and that the burden of the transportation shutdown more severely impacts students in grades K-5 who don't have alternate means of getting to school.

On a positive note, Dr. David Rubin of the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia advises us that taking steps now to control the spread of COVID-19, along with the likely imminent arrival of a safe, effective and widely available vaccine, make it more likely that we may be able to return all students to full-time in-person instruction this spring. Please, continue to wear masks, maintain social distance and practice good hygiene to help us meet that goal.

Sincerely,

Robert Copeland
Superintendent

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