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Lower Merion School District

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Upcoming Community Events & Programs

The following is a listing of non-profit, community-based programs/events in Lower Merion and Narberth that have been approved for posting by Lower Merion School District. To submit your non-profit, community-based program/event for consideration, please email the LMSD Communications Office at info@lmsd.org.

Change in Free Meal Distribution

Starting Monday, September 14, 2020, LMSD will be distributing free lunches on Mondays only. (This is a change from the previous Monday/Wednesday schedule).

Distributions will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. behind Lower Merion High School. Follow the signs for the pool. LMSD personnel will be on-site to direct you.

If schools are closed on a Monday, as they are on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, that week's distribution will be held on Tuesday.

In alignment with new guidance from the Pa. Department of Education, the District is able to offer 10 meals per child per week. This included five breakfasts and five lunches.

Important Information for Families Facing Eviction

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an order stopping evictions for non-payment of rent from September 4, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

This moratorium applies to families who:

  • Attempted to get rental assistance.
  • Expect to earn less that $99,000 in 2020
  • Lost income due to COVID-19
  • Are trying to make partial payments, given your expenses
  • Would likely become homeless, if you are evicted

To be protected,, you must declare that you qualify for the Federal Eviction Moratorium by signing the Declaration in English and submitting it to your landlord or the court. Before submitting your Declaration, be sure to make a copy for your records.

If you currently have a court hearing scheduled, you should still attend it. And you should continue to try to pay your rent.

You can find more information about this program by calling the PhillyTenant Helpline at 267-443-2500 or by clicking here.

Dear LMSD Families:

As we prepare to move forward with an initial virtual start of the LMSD 2020-2021 school year, we recognize that it is not the ideal scenario. However, as the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority, we believe it that is the most appropriate approach. The Lower Merion Board of School Directors is equally concerned about our students' mental and emotional well-being. Therefore, in addition to making the necessary preparations to bring students back into the buildings safely, which is our ultimate goal, we are also committed to working with the LMSD Administration, staff, students and community to reinforce an anti-racist and equity agenda for the District.

The School Board established the Ad-Hoc Committee on Equity and Anti-Racism in recognition that the global reckoning on Anti-Black Racism resulting from the outcry against police brutality and white supremacy around the globe was also relevant to our District and broader community. The Ad-Hoc Committee is being established to augment LMSD's existing standing committee structure. The members of the Ad-Hoc Committee will include:

  • Shawn Mooring, Chair Ad-Hoc Committee, Co-Chair Curriculum Committee
  • Dr. Melissa Gilbert, President of LMSB
  • Lucy Klain, Vice President of LMSB, Co-Chair Policy Committee
  • Peter Lee, Co-Chair Facilities Committee
  • Shayna Kaylish, Co-Chair Communications Committee

Superintendent Copeland will serve as the Administration liaison to the Ad-Hoc Committee. The focus of the Ad-Hoc Committee is to affirm and improve upon LMSD's ongoing efforts to implement an equity and anti-racist agenda throughout our schools.

To accomplish this the committee will:

  • Serve as a sounding board to actively engage in two-way listening with our students, parents/guardians, teachers and community members. Through facilitated topical discussions (i.e.: Student Empowerment, Parent/Guardian Engagement, Curriculum, & Policy), the Ad-Hoc Committee will seek to understand and develop actionable solutions to root-cause issues impacting our school climate.
  • Serve as a coordinating body working alongside LMSD's existing and ongoing equity efforts (including but not limited to: CARE, Achievement Imperative Task Force, Becton Scholars, POWER, REACH, etc.) to ensure that these efforts are working succinctly to move forward the District's overarching anti-racism and equity agenda.

The first Ad-Hoc Committee meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. Zoom information will be shared on the District website prior to the start of the meeting. During this meeting, we will hear a brief presentation from Dr. Heather Bennett, Director of Equity Services at the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) on PSBA's recommendation to districts on the formation of an Equity Policy. We will then be led by Dr. Tara Doaty, CEO of Sage Wellness Group and Equity Consultant to LMSD, on a facilitated review and discussion of the themes that have emerged over the course of the summer stemming from the student-organized Town Hall meeting. Through the use of virtual break-out sessions we will seek to identify clear and tangible take-away items/action steps that will inform the work of the Ad-Hoc Committee.

We look forward to your participation and on-going support as maintain our commitment to establishing an anti-racist and equity agenda for our students, teachers, and community.

Best regards,

Mr. Shawn Mooring
Lower Merion Board of School Directors
Ad-Hoc Committee on Equity and Anti-Racism, Chair
Curriculum Committee, Co-Chair

Board Approves All-virtual Start to 2020-2020 School Year

By a vote of 8-1, the Lower Merion Board of School Directors has approved a Health and Safety Plan for reopening for the 2020-2021 school year. Under the plan, school will start fully virtual on Sept. 8, 2020, through at least October 5, 2020, with an ultimate goal of a safe return to in-person instruction.

The Administration will work toward providing safe in-person orientation opportunities for students transitioning into new schools to the extent possible, and will work toward providing in-person instructional opportunities for students with identified needs.

Additionally, the District will continue to meet with local childcare providers and community stakeholders to strategize on ways to help students' and staff families meet childcare needs during remote instruction.

View the July 20, 2020, School Board Meeting

LMSD apologizes for the technical issue that prevented some interested members of the public from gaining access to the July 20, 2020, (Zoom) meeting of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors.

We have already taken steps to ensure that it won't happen again.

The meeting video has been posted on our District website and can be viewed here. A closed captioned version should be available tomorrow.

LMSD Names New Assistant Superintendent

At its meeting on Monday, July 20, 2020, the Lower Merion Board of School Directors approved the appointment of Dr. Alexis McGloin as the Lower Merion School District's new Assistant Superintendent. Dr. McGloin joins LMSD from the Central Bucks School District, where she served as Assistant Superintendent for Assessment, Professional Development and Educational Services for just over a year. Dr. McGloin succeeds Dr. Scott Eveslage, who recently became Superintendent of the Hatboro Horsham School District.

Prior to working in Central Bucks, Dr. McGloin served as Superintendent of the Upper Perkiomen School District. During her time in UPSD, the District saw a ten percent increase in graduation rates, an increase in the number of Advanced Placement courses offered, implementation of additional mental health supports for students, and a major middle school renovation and reconfiguration.

Dr. McGloin has also served as an assistant superintendent and principal in the Penn Delco School District. She began her career teaching chemistry and general science in Kingston, Pa.

Dr. McGloin earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Education, Educational Administration and Supervision from East Stroudsburg University and a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Temple University.

Superintendent Robert Copeland called Dr. McGloin a standout among a competitive field of highly qualified candidates. "Dr. McGloin offers our District an advantageous combination of both her depth of leadership experience and her fresh viewpoints and energy. I'm thrilled to have her joining our already stellar leadership team."

Dr. McGloin lives in Bryn Mawr with her husband and two children. She enjoys reading and spending time relaxing at the Jersey Shore and is looking forward to joining Lower Merion, despite doing so during a challenging time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am honored to be provided this tremendous opportunity to work with the students, staff, administration and community in Lower Merion. The district has an outstanding reputation and I am excited to become a part of the administrative team," Dr. McGloin said.

Update on Reopening Plans from Supt. Copeland

July 13, 2020 Update on Reopening Plans from the Supt. Copeland

Dear LMSD Families,

As you've likely heard, how schools should reopen for the upcoming year has been the topic of much discussion recently among politicians, health experts and the media. Here in the Lower Merion School District, our goal remains the same. We are working towards a safe and equitable return to school for all students and staff. During this time, just as when we are not dealing with a pandemic, the safety of students and staff is our top priority.

I understand that there are economic implications, childcare implications, social and emotional implications and, of course, educational implications to the decisions being made as we strive to meet this goal. We are also working within state and federal guidance that continues to change and is at times contradictory. Therefore, our plans for reopening are not yet finalized and will likely continue to be revised throughout the summer. Again, I will continue to share updates with you approximately every two weeks.

As a reminder, a dedicated email account has been created for our families to share feedback and questions regarding our reopening plans. That email is 2020ReopeningComments@lmsd.org. I would like to thank the many parents and guardians who have already shared their input, from which we have developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions, which we are posting on the COVID-19/Back-to-School page of our District website and which we will update them as our plans change and new issues arise. I urge all families to read through the FAQs.

Below are some specific updates and reminders that have developed since my last letter.

Face Coverings

Under the current guidance from Gov. Wolf, students will be expected to use face coverings in school, when social distancing cannot be maintained. In the "Green" phase, with all students in their classrooms, this means students will need to wear face coverings throughout the day. Face coverings may be removed to eat when social distancing can be maintained, for exercise outdoors and during "mask breaks" when social distancing can be maintained. We are looking at all of our buildings to determine where students will be able to have socially-distanced lunches. State guidelines allow exceptions for health conditions that contraindicate mask-wearing. Students may wear face shields that extend below the chin instead of a mask, if preferred, over or in addition to a mask.

Staff will also follow state guidelines for using face coverings. In some cases, staff members may wear face shields in addition to or instead of masks. This may include staff who work with students with special needs, nurses, etc.

The District Solicitor is currently reviewing whether students who refuse to wear face coverings, and are not exempted from doing so, can be excluded from school.

Parents/guardians are urged to begin to acclimate children to wearing a face covering now by modeling and practicing at home, where they feel safe. Encourage children to decorate and personalize their masks, as this may help create a sense of ownership and control of the situation.

Schools will provide one face covering per child, but families are urged to make or provide their own, so that they can be kept clean. Face coverings will be required for all students on LMSD buses.

Transportation

One of the biggest challenges ahead will be providing adequate social distancing on school buses. As I mentioned in my previous updates, parents/guardians who can drive their children to school, or walk them to school, should plan to do so. A survey is being prepared to determine accurate counts for students who may qualify for busing but will be choosing an alternate form of transportation. This will allow for better planning and fewer students on each bus.

To support de-densifying our buses, work will begin with the Township in an effort to hire and place additional crossing guards to safely expand our walk zones. If more students walk to school, our buses will be less crowded and therefore pose less of a transmission risk.

Additionally, bike racks are being provided at all schools, to enable students to use bicycles for transportation. Students will need to provide their own bike locks. If there is demand, the District will provide even more bike racks to further encourage bike riding.

Start Dates

In my previous update, the possibility of starting the school year early was mentioned. Our instructional team has decided that Orientation Days will be offered for new students entering Kindergarten or First Grade, for 6th graders and for 9th graders. These orientation days will be optional. Grades 6 and 9 Orientations will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. K-1 Orientation Days will be held the week of August 31. Elementary school principals will share additional schedule details in the coming weeks.

In addition to the Orientation Days, schools will be developing and sharing videos and other materials to help students familiarize themselves with new procedures that will be in place when they return to school. These may include new doors and entry/exit procedures, new rules about how they pass between classrooms, which stairwells they will be using, using backpacks instead of lockers, where they will be eating, etc.

Lower Merion Virtual Academy

For various reasons, some families may not be comfortable having their children return to in-person instruction until COVID-19 is under control. That is why the District is partnering with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit's MVP (Montgomery Virtual Program) to offer the Lower Merion Virtual Academy.

This online education option will enable students to remain enrolled in their LMSD home school, but receive their education at home. Registration is expected to open later this week and will remain open until August 14, 2020. Once the LMVA pages of our website are up and running, you will receive an email directing you to where you can find more detailed information about this program and how to register.

Finally, I understand that many families have concerns about how they will manage if our District institutes our "Yellow" phase, hybrid scenario, with students having two days of in-person instruction and three days of remote instruction each week. I know that this is not ideal, for a long list of reasons. I would like to reiterate that our hope and preference is that all students will be in our schools for the upcoming year. However, if the public health situation warrants changing our plans, we must remain flexible.

Sincerely,

Robert Copeland
Superintendent

LMSD Creates Reporting Form for Student Testimonies

In the past month, the Lower Merion School District, like many schools and organizations, has begun to take a hard look at our District policies, programs, curriculum and overall institution. As an educational organization, we have an obligation to review, reflect and make sure that we provide an environment that is physically, emotionally and psychologically safe and supportive for every student. We recognize that we must confront and act upon systemic racism to ensure we are fulfilling our educational mission and serving our students and community.

It has been brought to our attention in recent weeks that on certain social media platforms many students have come forward to share incidents of micro-aggressions and discrimination they experienced within our schools related to race, gender identity and/or sexual orientation. There have also been stories of self-harming behaviors and alarming mental health needs. We understand that the students who have shared their stories are calling on us to do better and to be better. We also understand that some students may need immediate help and we want to provide a platform that will allow us to respond to those needs.

Therefore, we have created this form as a platform for members of our LMSD community to share their experiences with members of the School Board and Administrative Departments such as Student Services, Human Relations, Policy and Curriculum – all of whom work to help students and to ensure that our school community is welcoming and inclusive.

All members of the LMSD community are urged to use this form to share testimonies, including concerns about how your school handled any social injustices, witnessed or experienced. If you feel comfortable, please include your name, gender pronouns and connection to LMSD. Or, if you prefer, you can remain fully anonymous. Additionally, please indicate if you would like someone from the District to reach back to you to follow up on your concerns. We are also sharing some helpful resources at the end of this letter with which we encourage you to become familiar.

Additionally, students and members of the wider community are invited to participate in a student-organized Town Hall meeting on racism, that will occur (via Zoom) on Thursday, July 16, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.

It is our obligation not only to listen, but, more importantly, to act swiftly and aggressively to confront injustice and inequity. These lived experiences of our students impacted by racism and discrimination are something we must act upon. As we move forward, we must continue to combat systemic racism and eliminate all forms of discrimination and harassment from our schools.

While we have been working on diversity, equity and inclusivity as a District prior to these recent events, we are now even more determined to have a comprehensive approach to anti-racism in our schools. Our plan is to improve upon exiting initiatives, and to also thoughtfully implement curriculum changes, staff development, recruitment, leadership, student programs, and creating a safe space for every student. We are fully committed to this work and it is an urgent priority. This is going to be challenging work that will require the entire community to commit to act.

Respectfully,

Robert Copeland, Superintendent of Schools
Sean Hughes, Principal, Lower Merion High School
Scott Weinstein, Principal, Harriton High School
Christopher Hall, Principal, Welsh Valley Middle School
Sarah Stout, Principal, Bala Cynwyd Middle School

Inclusivity and Belonging in LMSD

LMSD Counseling Resources

Safe2Say Something Anonymous Reporting

District Policy 006 Civility

District Policy 103 Equal Opportunity Program for School and Classroom Practices

District Policy 235 Student Rights and Responsibilities

District Policy 245 Suicide Prevention and Self-Harming Behavior

District Policy 246 Harassment, Bullying and Hazing

District Policy 259 Gender Expansive and Transgender Students Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination

Committee to Address Race in Education

Achievement Imperative Task Force

School Board Approves Health & Safety Plan for PIAA Sports

At a special meeting of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors on Monday, June 22, 2020, the Board approved a Healthy and Safety Plan for Athletics. The plan was developed in accordance with guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA).

The Board's approval of this plan will enable teams to hold voluntary summer practices for fall sports, beginning on July 6, 2020.

All student athletes and their parents/guardians are urged to review the plan prior to deciding whether to participate in athletic activities.

Coaches, Athletics and Activities Directors, and Student Health Services staff will be monitoring plan compliance, behaviors and screening results. Changes to the Plan and/or to health and safety practices may be made as warranted.

Click here to read the plan.

Update of Back-to-School Planning from Supt. Copeland

Dear LMSD Families,

As promised in my letter two weeks ago, I am writing to provide you with another update on our planning process for a return to school in the fall. Again, I must emphasize that no final decisions have been made about what September 2020 will look like. Earlier today, we received new guidance from the Pa. Department of Education (PDE) and we continue to receive additional new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Montgomery County Office of Public Health. Despite the rapidly changing guidance, our framework as we look to a safe reopening remains constant:

  • LMSD will follow recommendations from the state and federal government, as well as the Montgomery County Office of Public Health to determine when it is safe to reopen schools.
  • While taking steps to simultaneously restore and redesign instruction, LMSD will prioritize ensuring the safety and health of students and staff in accordance with medical recommendations and guidelines.
  • We will need to prepare for various school start scenarios, as well as future school closure scenarios, ranging from all students being in school to all students learning remotely and hybrid options between the two.
  • We anticipate a range of responses from the community regarding any decisions made
  • Reopening plans will be subject to continuous review and revision.

The new guidance from PDE indicates that schools may now be allowed to reopen for in-person instruction in the "Yellow" phase as soon as July 1, if certain conditions can be met. This is a change from earlier directives that said schools would not be able to reopen until the "Green" phase. In order to offer any in-person instruction, we need to submit an extensive Health and Safety Plan for PDE review and take numerous additional steps. This work is underway.

We are also reviewing our plans for summer programs, which we had planned to offer remotely. Offering in-person instruction will require significant changes in staffing, facilities usage and other procedures that may not be possible to implement safely by July 1. Therefore, at this time, we anticipate most summer programs will remain remote. However, if we can offer in-person summer learning opportunities, we will and we are working to develop new programming to enable that effort.

Looking ahead to fall, it appears that we will be in the "Green" phase. Our goal remains to safely open schools for in-person instruction to the extent possible, knowing that conditions may change and require a return to remote instruction for certain individuals, buildings or even the entire District for unknown periods of time. As part of those considerations, we are investigating whether we may be able to provide our own LMSD cyber school for students who are unable to attend in-person classes for an extended period of time.

As we as District Administration look ahead, we ask you as parents and guardians to do so as well. Some particular issues will require your support and cooperation and we ask you to begin considering these now:

  • Transportation: Transportation will be a challenge, as the recommendation is to limit the number of children on buses. Therefore, we ask parents/guardians to begin to consider how and whether they will be able to transport their own children to school, if they live outside of the walk zones.
  • Children's Health: We will also need the support of parents/guardians to ensure that any children who may be exhibiting any symptoms of illness are kept home and to understand that children who arrive at school displaying symptoms will need to be picked up immediately.

Below are brief updates on the work of some of the various subcommittees of our Reopening Task Force:

Health and Safety: This committee has created a six-page working document outlining critical information and decision pathways impacting social distancing (both for buildings and transportation), between-class transitions, building access, PPE acquisition and usage, cleaning and disinfecting, modifying high-risk activities, and nursing considerations.

Curriculum and Instruction: This committee is working on implementing a free summer program available to all students in K-12 help fill gaps and prepare students for the upcoming year. Additionally, they are working on Professional Development for all teaching staff to enable them to implement better tools and methodology for remote learning, including the possibility of an LMSD cyber school option.

Rapid Response: Plans have been made and implementation is underway for students to retrieve personal items from schools and return items (such as textbooks, computers, etc.) to schools and for staff to clean out classrooms for summer cleaning and maintenance.

Facilities and Operational Usage Logistics: This committee is recommending the suspension of facility usage by outside organizations and community groups once buildings reopen to students/staff. Also, they are researching and ordering PPE, sanitizing equipment and protective shields for various locations/personnel. They report that supply chains are disrupted and many products are not available in a timely manner.

Communications/Outreach: In addition to providing this update, this committee organized a (zoom) parent/guardian focus group meeting with the Administration leadership to get feedback and hear concerns about remote learning and the various reopening scenarios under consideration. The focus group included parents/guardians in two-career households, essential personnel, families of students with special needs and representatives from schools across the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Technology: This committee is working on increasing the number of devices available to students and staff, should remote learning need to continue. Supply chain issues plague the technology sector as well and some items such as Chromebooks and MacBooks may not be available in a timely manner. They are also investigating cameras and microphones for classrooms that could allow for synchronous learning from outside the classroom.

Other Reopening Work:

  • Polling staff to ascertain availability for possible summer programming
  • Ensuring that free meal distribution will continue through the summer
  • Ongoing hiring and recruitment
  • Communication with the Pa. Department of Education for clarity regarding requirements for the upcoming year
  • Meetings with superintendents from other Districts to share best practices, brainstorm, lobby legislators, etc.

Our work will continue, despite the upcoming end of the school year for our students. We will also continue to update you every couple of weeks as we work through the many remaining questions and uncertainties. We hope you and your families are and remain well.

Sincerely,

Robert Copeland
Superintendent

Statement from the Lower Merion School District

Statement from the Lower Merion School District Regarding the Death of George Floyd

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests remind all of us in the Lower Merion School District that our ongoing work to ensure equity is vital. We mourn with Mr. Floyd's family and friends. We decry the racism that has led to the deaths of far too many people of color, not only at the hands of authorities whose mission should be to protect them, but also due to economic disparity, healthcare inequities and opportunity gaps.

The Lower Merion School District is committed to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students and employees. We are dedicated to ensuring that every student has equal access to the District's educational programs and activities. We firmly believe that establishing a deep sense of belonging is fundamental to our work. Further, we believe our work is fundamental to building a future for our community and our world, where each individual is equally valued and every person's potential can be realized and fulfilled.

This is a difficult time for our community. Our students and staff members are experiencing a range of emotions, and every one of those emotions is justified. We urge our students to reach out to a trusted teacher or their school counselor. We urge our staff to take advantage of the mental health resources provided by our Human Resources Department. And we urge every member of our community to listen to and support one another.

Inclusivity and Belonging are central to our District's mission and a keystone of our Strategic Plan. LMSD is committed to taking a leadership role in closing achievement gaps and ensuring the achievement of all students through a comprehensive array of programs, strategies and community partnerships. Current efforts include expanded use of student data to identify and support struggling students, intensive staff development programs around cultural proficiency and differentiated instruction, summer enrichment programs, free tutoring programs, minority recruitment initiatives and implementation of other research-based achievement strategies.

The District is a founding member of the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence & Equity (DVCEE) and facilitates community and parent engagement around local K-12 issues through the Committee to Address Race in Education (C.A.R.E). The District's minority achievement programs at the high schools (Becton Scholars Seminar at Lower Merion and POWER Scholars at Harriton) further engage, challenge and support minority students in achieving their maximum potential.

We know there is much work to be done and the work is hard. Each of us must look inside to honestly assess how our own shortcomings, viewpoints and actions may – even inadvertently – be contributing to the strife and anger that our friends and neighbors experience. We must practice empathy. We must listen to one another. We must learn from one another. If we do these things, our classrooms (even when they are virtual) and our schools can serve as models for a better world.

Beyond those steps, we urge our community members to vote, both in tomorrow's primary and in the upcoming general election in November. And we urge those who are able to donate to organizations that are working in the pursuit of an equitable and more just society.

Below are links to some resources that parents/guardians may find helpful in discussing these issues with students. Our LMSD principals have also shared a variety of resources with staff and encourage them to discuss these important issues with students.

Supporting Vulnerable Students in Stressful Times: Tips for Parents

Understanding Race and Privilege

Resources for Discussing Police Violence, Race, and Racism with Students

NASP Calls for Action to End Racism and Violence Against People of Color

Discussing Hate and Violence with Children

Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories About Bias and Injustice

Talking to Children About Tragedies and Other News Events

How to Support Your Child's Resilience in a Time of Crisis

Responding to Children's Emotional Needs During Times of Crisis

The tennis courts and tracks at Harriton High School, Lower Merion High School, Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Welsh Valley Middle School will all be unlocked and reopened on the afternoon of Friday, May 15. Grounds staff are out unlocking court and track access gates and removing the temporary "Due to Health Concerns, School Facilities are Closed" signage from these areas only.

REMINDER: Anyone using the tennis courts or tracks must continue to follow all social distancing guidelines.

Anonymous Reporting of Suspected Abuse or Neglect

Many of the measures required to halt the spread of COVID-19 have led children to become isolated from teachers, counselors and others who are mandated to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.

In addition, social distancing has limited contact with peers and other trusted confidants. This isolation, combined with increased stresses in the home, make clear the need to provide a resource for those who feel unsafe or who are concerned about the safety of a friend.

According to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, "Initially, March saw a decrease of 38.8% in ChildLine referrals in Montgomery County; distressingly, the numbers have plummeted in April, with an overall decrease of 61.5% in ChildLine referrals. These numbers clearly show that youth throughout Montgomery County are at risk now that mandated reporters are not seeing these children outside of the home."

To this end, the Pa. Attorney General's office has repurposed and promoted the Safe2Say app and helpline as a tool available to students to report concerns regarding child abuse. Many schools, students and families are already very familiar with this program, which was created in response to school violence.

Here are the ways you can anonymously report suspected cases of abuse or neglect:

Safe2SaySomething Online

Safe2SaySomething App

Safe2SaySomething Hotline: 1-844-SAF2SAY

Additionally, anyone with a concern about the health or safety of any Lower Merion School District student can share their concerns with a school counselor.

LMSD Donated Supplies to Temple University Hospital

Lower Merion School District has donated much-needed protective equipment to frontline medical workers at Temple University Hospital's Emergency Department.

The District was able fill a car trunk with surplus supplies, including 190 N95 masks, 24 face shields and seven boxes of gloves, which are not being used in schools at this time.

The donation was coordinated by Temple Medical student Nicole Becker Katz and the LMSD Health Services Department.

LMSD's Strategic Plan, "All Forward," provides a framework for a collective, intentional and positive approach to change. Its five aspirational pathways guide us toward continual innovation and transformation to further educational excellence for every student. The District's donation to Temple Hospital is an example of Strategic Pathway #5: A Spirit of Community. To learn more about #LMSDAllForward and the Strategic Pathways, click here.


Update on Lights for Arnold Field

A Message from Dr. Melissa Gilbert, President of the Lower Merion Board of School Directors

As most of our community are aware, The Lower Merion Board of School Directors is considering how to provide later start times for high school students, as recommended by health professionals, aligned with our strategic plan, and strongly supported by the community. The discussion to move to a later start time for high school students began several years ago in response to research supporting optimal education outcomes for students K-12.

As part of the logistical considerations related to this decision, the District is submitting its Application for Tentative Sketch to Lower Merion Township for a plan to install lights at Lower Merion High School's Arnold Field. Lighting the field will be necessary to enable safe after-school games and practices if later start times are implemented. While there are additional logistical constraints to be addressed, lights on Arnold Field are critical. The plan has been the subject of numerous public meetings:

  • Nov. 14, 2019: Work order for the Preliminary Plan Application was discussed by the Lower Merion Board of School Directors Facilities and Purchasing Committee
  • Nov. 18, 2019: Work order for the Preliminary Plan Application was approved by the Lower Merion Board of School Directors
  • Dec. 12, 2019: Work order for the design work was discussed by the Lower Merion Board of School Directors Facilities and Purchasing Committee
  • Dec. 16, 2019: Work order for the design work was approved by the full Lower Merion Board of School Directors
  • Feb. 11, 2020: Wynnewood Civic Association Meeting
  • March 4, 2020: Community meeting with Wynnewood and N. Ardmore Civic Associations at Lower Merion High School
  • March 25, 2020: Project was part of the LMSD Operations Department's budget presentation to the Finance Committee of the Lower Merion of Board of School Directors

This application will be an agenda item at an upcoming Intergovernmental Meeting in May with representatives from LMSD, Lower Merion Township and Narberth Borough, with the exact date and platform still to be determined. We welcome community comment and will continue to identify opportunities for community engagement.

Per Lower Merion Township's procedure, the application will be reviewed at public meetings of the Planning Commission, Building and Planning Committee, and Board of Commissioners. Township residents are able to comment on applications at these meetings. The Township has canceled its May Planning Commission meeting due to the COVID-19 situation. LMSD will share further updates about meeting dates and commenting procedures regarding this application when they are known.

LMSD Construction Update

April 6, 2020

Construction Update

Later this week, construction work will resume at the site of the planned Lower Merion School District middle school at 1860 Montgomery Avenue in Villanova. At LMSD's request, the contractors developed and submitted safety plans incorporating current CDC and Department of Health guidelines. LMSD is allowing the contractors to resume work in accordance with those safety plans and the guidelines established by the Pa. Department of Education:

All school district construction decisions should appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued safety of critical infrastructure. School districts and the contractors must ensure continuance of and compliance with the social distancing and other mitigation measures to protect employees and the public, including virtual and telework operations (e.g. work from home) as the primary option when available, as have been or will be established by the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The work at 1860 Montgomery is related to site work, including site clearing, the removal of topsoil and rock from the site and eventually the blasting work, about which the immediate neighbors have already been informed. Blasting will occur in accordance with requirements of Lower Merion Fire Department and be monitored appropriately. Resumption of this site work is necessary to maintain the timeline to open the new school in September 2022 to answer the challenge of growing enrollment in LMSD.

In addition to the work at 1860 Montgomery, LMSD contractors will begin work on the shingle roof replacement Merion Elementary School. This work, which was originally scheduled for the summer, will be suspended if and when the school reopens.

Anyone with questions regarding the resumption of District construction work can contact LMSD Project Manager Gary Musial at musialg@lmsd.org.

LMSD Will 3D Print Face Shield Headbands

Lower Merion School District's Information Systems Department will be using the District's seven 3D printers to print headbands for face shields needed by medical personnel working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The District hopes to produce at least 70 headbands each week, once the all of the printers can safely be brought from the individual schools' maker spaces to the IS Department's offices.

The headbands will be delivered to a team of volunteers working at the Kohelet Yeshiva in Merion, where the plastic shields will be added. So far, the project has supplied shields to the following medical organizations:

  • Abington Hospital
  • Narberth Ambulance
  • Lankenau Medical Center
  • Penn Medicine
  • Pennsylvania Hospital
  • Paoli Hospital
  • Doylestown Hospital
  • Pottstown Hospital
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Jefferson Northeast
  • Inglis House

To see some photos of the process, click the slide show below:


Lower Merion School District staff have worked throughout the weekend on plans for remote learning during the COVID-19 school shutdown. You can expect to hear more from your teachers and principals Monday about Flexible Instruction Days, which will begin on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

We are also continuing collect information from families who will need access to the internet and devices in order for students to engage in online learning. If your family needs a device, please call 610-645-1910 and leave a message including the student's name, school, grade and your phone number, so that the District can work to provide your family with a device. Please call this number before midnight tonight.

In addition, we want to make you aware of an offer from Comcast. The company is offering families two months of free internet access through the Internet Essentials program. You can sign up for the program starting tomorrow, Monday, March 16, 2020, by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) or by going to https://internetessentials.com/

Next, we want you to know that the District is working on a plan to provide meals to students who depend on the free and reduced lunch programs. We hope to send you more information about how we will provide meals tomorrow and we hope to have the meals available starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Finally, a reminder that the purpose of the school closure ordered by Governor Wolf is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please follow the recommendations of the CDC, health care experts and Governor Wolf. By staying at home except for essential activities, we can protect our own health and minimize the spread of the virus. Hand washing and keeping a safe distance from others has never been so important.

If you feel ill, even with mild symptoms, you may have been exposed to the virus. Or, you may have the common cold, flu or allergies. If you are ill, avoid contact with others, stay at home and call your health care provider for more direction. If you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 911 or your health care provider. We can't prevent COVID-19, but we can slow the spread of the disease. A slower spread of the disease avoids overwhelming the health care system and other essential agencies and results in a smaller number of cases over time.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation as we continue to work through this challenging time as a community.

Lower Merion High School Earns Flower Show Honors

The Lower Merion High School Flower Show Club earned a First Prize and near-perfect 99 out of 100 points in initial judging of the Arbor class at the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show. And several students won ribbons for their botanical jewelry creations.

The Arbor display features a garden-to-table wedding theme using lemon trees and herbs. The club purchased the lemon trees from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society after the 2019 Flower Show and joined them together at the tops to form the shape of an Ace.

The club's ingenuity did not end there. When edible white blossoms they had hoped to use in the display were killed by insecticides at the PHS greenhouse, they quickly decided to substitute herbs.

There is another round of judging on Wednesday, but the Flower Show Club isn't resting on its laurels -- they're already meeting with advisor Lynne Freeland to begin planning next year's display.

The theme for the botanical jewelry competition was to create a beach-themed anklet. LMHS students took home first, second, third and honorable mention honors for their creations.

To see a slideshow of images of Lower Merion's Flower Show entries, please click below.


Families attend "Jazz and Friends" event

Dozens of LMSD students attended "Jazz and Friends," a family reading event to support trans and non-binary youth. The event took place at Gladwyne Elementary School on February 26, 2020.

Participating families shared dinner and time to socialize before joining to read books that feature gender expansive characters, including "I Am Jazz," "Julian is a Mermaid," "They She He Me: Free to Be!" "Jacob's Room to Choose" and "Red: A Crayon's Story."

Children's Book World provided copies of the books that families could purchase. Students from Harriton High School's GSA helped with the readings and also provided fun craft activities for the participants.

Jazz and Friends reading events are promoted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Welcoming Schools program and the National Education Association.

Lower Merion School District prides itself on Inclusivity and Belonging and was one of the first Districts to adopt a Policy on Gender Expansive and Transgender Students: Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination (Policy and Administrative Regulation 259).

To see a slide show of photos from the event, click below:



Students Honored by Lower Merion Fire Department

When Ryder and Cooper Fiske-Kneafsey awoke in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, 2019, they smelled and saw smoke. They immediately ran to awaken their father. When he told them it was probably just exhaust from the dryer vent, they insisted he get up to check it out.

When boys' suspicion was confirmed -- there was a fire in the basement of the family's Merion home -- they made sure that they, their parents and their dog, Sandy, all escaped the home and that the fire department was called.

The Lower Merion Fire Department honored Ryder, who is a fourth grader at Merion Elementary School, and Cooper, who is a sixth grader at Bala Cynwyd Middle School, for their quick thinking at a ceremony in Ryder's classroom on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.

Lower Merion Chief Fire Officer Charles J. McGarvey Sr. praised the boys for remembering what they had learned during Fire Prevention Week. They got everyone out of the home, shutting doors behind them to stop the blaze's spread, and made sure the fire department was called quickly. In addition to giving them a written citation, McGarvey offered them scholarships to attend the LMFD Youth Firefighter Camp this summer.

The boys' parents, Amy Fiske and Dolan Kneafsey, had praise for their sons and also for the firefighters, who not only extinguished the blaze, but also calmed the family's fears and helped them through the aftermath. The family spent about five weeks after the fire in a hotel and is now living in an apartment, as they decide whether to rebuild their fire-damaged home or move elsewhere.

For a slide show of the recognition ceremony and some photos from the fire scene, please click below:


BC Applause to stage "Imaginary" musical

Bala Cynwyd Middle School's theatrical club, BC Applause, will stage "Imaginary," a new musical, March 5-7, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. in the school's Leonard G. Murphy Auditorium.

"Imaginary" is described as an exciting, funny and inspiring musical about the wonder of childhood, the power of imagination and what it means to grow up.

It tells the story of Milo and Sam, friends who spend all of their time together and use their imaginations to transform their world into a place of adventure and excitement.

Show tickets are available at bcapplause.com for $8 presale/$10 at the door.

Click below to watch a slideshow of photos from an "Imaginary" dress rehearsal.


Save the Date! LMSD Elementary Family STEM Night

Save the Date! Lower Merion School District will be hosting the 5th Annual Elementary Family STEM Night on April 16 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Lower Merion High School.

Please join us for a brand new format and lots of family fun! Registration details coming soon!

LMSD Kindergarten & 1st Grade Registration Reminder

To be eligible for kindergarten, a child must be 5 years of age on or before September 1, 2020.

For children who will be entering a Lower Merion School District school for the first time in the fall of 2020 as a first grader, the child must be 6 years of age on or before September 1, 2020.

Students currently enrolled in a LMSD kindergarten program do not need to register again for 1st grade. Please visit the LMSD website for more information.

Phone Number: 610-658-3996

All registrations are by appointment only. Interpreter services are available upon request.

WVMS Students Help Family Displaced by Dorian

The students in Ms. MaryBeth Peterson's 7th grade social studies class at Welsh Valley Middle School didn't just read about the destruction that Hurricane Dorian brought to the Bahamas. They made a big difference for a family who moved to Philadelphia after losing their home and business in the storm.

The students decided that they wanted to help families who had lost so much on the islands where several of them had vacationed with their own families. At first, they thought they'd raise money to donate to the American Red Cross. But then, a representative from the Caribbean Community of Philadelphia and Bahamas Philadelphia Foundation helped them connect to the Simms family. The Simms chose Philadelphia to be near a family member who was already in the city, studying at the University of Pennsylvania.

The WVMS students sold hot cocoa and raffle tickets and held a walkathon to raise nearly $8000 for the Simms. When students learned that a child in the family was interested in science, they obtained passes to the Franklin Institute and donated a slime-making kit. They also collected gift cards, clothing and a big stuffed animal.

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, the students finally met members of the family and presented them with the money and other gifts. 6abc Action News was at the presentation and is set to feature the students on the evening news. As a thank you, the Simms presented the students with a Bahamian flag.

In their interviews, the students said they didn't want to just collect money, but they also wanted their classmates to understand the longterm impact of the storm on the residents of the Bahamas. And they described how this philanthropic effort made them want to continue help others.

Members of the Simms family said they were not only thankful for the students' generosity, but also very impressed with how the students had organized the fundraisers themselves. And they invited the students to visit them once they are able to rebuild. The emotional presentation ended with a group hug among the students and the family.

To see photos from this memorable afternoon, you can click through the slide show below:


LMSD's Strategic Plan, "All Forward," provides a framework for a collective, intentional and positive approach to change. Its five aspirational pathways guide us toward continual innovation and transformation to further educational excellence for every student. The Welsh Valley students' fundraising work is a student-driven example of Strategic Pathway #5: A Spirit of Community. To learn more about #LMSDAllForward and the Strategic Pathways, click here.


Harriton NHS students collect food for those in need

Members of Harriton High School's National Honor Society are helping out some less fortunate families in our community by providing meals just in time for Thanksgiving.

On Monday, Nov. 24, 2019, the students presented 100 dinners along with 100 gift cards for turkeys and numerous boxes of additional food for families served by the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth.

Michele Kristofco explained that the families who will receive the donated items have been impacted by abuse, poverty and homelessness. She told the students how grateful the recipients are.

Also on hand for the donation were Robert Duarte, Program Office Administrator, and County Commissioner Joseph C. Gale, who also praised the students for their effort to help others.

The National Honor Society at Harriton High School has been running the food drive for many years. Each Advisory class is asked to donate $20 and collect specific non-perishable food items during the month of November.

To see more photos of the students making their donation, click through the slide show below:


LMSD's Strategic Plan, "All Forward," provides a framework for a collective, intentional and positive approach to change. Its five aspirational pathways guide us toward continual innovation and transformation to further educational excellence for every student. The Harriton NHS food drive is a student-driven example of Strategic Pathway #5: A Spirit of Community. To learn more about #LMSDAllForward and the Strategic Pathways, click here.


BCMS Soccer Players Volunteer at Special Olympics

Ten students from Bala Cynwyd Middle School volunteered at the Special Olympics 5v5 soccer matches this weekend at Villanova University's 31st Annual Fall Festival. Fall Festival is the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world.

Ms. Baranik, a teacher and soccer coach at the BCMS, said, "During the event, I was especially proud with how the students initiated meeting some of the other athletes. Each student represented BC in a positive manner and several students were complimented for their kindness. it was a wonderful morning."

Great job by our student athletes, embodying our District motto, "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve."

LMSD's Strategic Plan, "All Forward," provides a framework for a collective, intentional and positive approach to change. Its five aspirational pathways guide us toward continual innovation and transformation to further educational excellence for every student. The BCMS students' work is an example of Strategic Pathway #5: A Spirit of Community. To learn more about #LMSDAllForward and the Strategic Pathways, click here.

Lower Merion High School Holds Pep Rally

Lower Merion High School's student body gathered in the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium this afternoon for the annual "Beat Radnor" pep rally, ahead of Saturday's rivalry football game at Radnor High School.

The pep rally featured the introduction of the football and soccer teams and performances by the cheerleaders, dance team, teachers' dance team, and drill team, along with the announcement of the Kings' and Queens' Court.

The pep rally capped off a full week of Spirit activities. The 123rd annual LM/Radnor football game kicks off Saturday, October 12, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.

Click through the slide show below for photos from the pep rally.


LMHS hosting Hurricane Dorian Relief Drive for hard-hit Bahamas

Lower Merion High School recently welcomed Remy Duncombe, a representative from the Caribbean Community in Philadelphia (CCP) and native Bahamian, to speak with students about Hurricane Dorian and the catastrophic effects it had on his homeland when it made landfall last month.

Picture of Remy Duncombe and buildOn officers

Hurricane Dorian was the most powerful tropical cyclone on record to ever strike the Bahamas and is being considered one of the worst natural disasters in the country's history with wind speeds reaching upwards of 185 MPH, ultimately destroying countless homes and communities and displacing thousands of families.

In partnership with Duncombe and the team at CCP, with support from Culture Trust Greater Philadelphia, students at Lower Merion are organizing a Hurricane Dorian Relief Drive as they collect much needed items and donations, which will directly benefit relief efforts in the Bahamas.

Items of need are as follows: baby formula, diapers, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medical kits, cleaning supplies, flashlights, batteries, insect repellent and feminine products. Donations can be dropped at one of two locations beginning Monday, September 16 through Friday, September 27. If you wish to contribute, items can be delivered to the locations below.

  • Lower Merion High School Main Office (located at 315 E. Montgomery Avenue in Ardmore)
  • Ardmore Toyota (located at 219 E. Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore)

To learn more about CCP and Culture Trust's Hurricane Dorian relief efforts, click here.

To view a PDF version of the flyer above, click here.