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Lower Merion School District

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Update from Supt. Copeland on Transportation

No LMSD Transportation Service on Nov. 12 and 13, 2020

Nov. 11, 2020

Dear LMSD Families,

Due to a situation that I will describe in additional detail below, I am writing to let you know that LMSD will not be able to offer any transportation services for the remainder of this week. Schools will remain open under the current in-person hybrid model on Nov. 12 and 13, 2020, but there will be no bus transportation to or from school or extracurricular activities. Right At School will be open at the District Administration Offices, but there will be no transportation between elementary schools and the DAO.

Background for this decision:

The situation with COVID-19 and its impact on our School District is rapidly changing. This morning, we were prepared to assure families that we would be staying with our in-person hybrid instructional model through next week. We felt we could do that because we have not seen evidence of COVID-19 transmission within our schools. The protocols of our LMSD Health and Safety Plan are working. Unfortunately, our schools do not exist in a bubble and circumstances in our surrounding community are such that we need to change our plans.

This afternoon, Dr. David Rubin of the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital, with whom we have been consulting, called the situation in the Philadelphia area "catastrophic" and urged that all schools in our area revert to remote instruction as of next week. The Montgomery County Board of Health will meet before the end of this week to determine whether all schools in the county should close and what the duration of the closure should be. We have not yet made a decision about our instructional model for next week, but will advise families by Friday afternoon, Nov. 13, 2020, of that plan.

Transportation Issues:

In addition, LMSD is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among members of our Transportation staff. The number of affected individuals (those confirmed and presumed positive and their close contacts) in the Transportation Department is such that we do not have enough drivers and bus aides available to run all of our routes. In light of this, the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) has advised we "not wait" to shut down the department. We are working with the county to ensure that all Transportation Department staff get tested for COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

Other Considerations:

These developments come during a week in which the Pa. Department of Health already moved Montgomery County from the "Moderate" to the "Substantial" category for COVID-19 positivity. The higher numbers in the larger community are impacting the speed with which contact-tracing can be performed. And without quick and thorough contact-tracing, it is possible that asymptomatic infected individuals may not be isolating or quarantining quickly enough to protect others

Conclusions:

In light of all of these considerations, this is my current recommendation. Please note that this plan is subject to change at any time, due to governmental orders or changing circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

Nov. 12-13: Schools remain open for hybrid in-person instruction WITH NO TRANSPORTATION

  • Students who cannot get to school due to a lack of transportation should join their classes via technology to the extent possible
  • Absences due to a lack of transportation will be excused
  • Teachers will work with those students to provide asynchronous makeup work

Future Weeks: We will update the community by Friday afternoon on any other changes to our instructional model.

I want to thank everyone who is following the important health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, keeping physical distance and frequent hand-washing. I also appreciate everyone's flexibility as we strive to balance the academic and health needs of our students and the larger community.

Sincerely,

Robert Copeland
Superintendent


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