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May 18, 2020, Update from Supt. Copeland regarding next year
May 18, 2020, Update from Supt. Copeland regarding next year

May 18, 2020

Dear LMSD Families,

I hope this letter finds you well. So much has changed over the past two months, but what has been consistent is the dedication of our School District staff to our children and our community. Since we were last in our schools on March 12, 2020, we have:

  • Delivered more than 720 devices to students and staff to support remote learning
  • Answered more than 3600 Helpdesk tickets for IT support
  • 3D-printed and delivered 300 headbands for face shields for medical personnel
  • Distributed more than 39,000 meals to children in our community.

Our teachers have Zoomed and Google Classroom-ed and engaged their students in a variety of innovative ways, and we continue to work to improve how we can best deliver our curriculum under these challenging circumstances. Thank you for the feedback you have provided and rest assured that we are taking your suggestions to heart as we strive to get better.

However, the purpose of this communication is not to look back on what we have accomplished. Rather, I want to update you on what we are planning, as we look to close out this school year and plan ahead. I must preface this update by saying that much remains uncertain for summer and fall. That is why I have created a team to work through the myriad of issues surrounding how we may transition back to school. The team leadership and the various subcommittees meet weekly to brainstorm, collaborate and problem-solve. We are constantly updating our plans as additional guidance is issued by the state and county. We have no final answers yet, but here's what we are thinking through and assessing at this time.

Several basic scenarios for a return to school are under consideration. These range from a full opening on September 8, 2020, to a continuation of remote learning for all students. As you can imagine, there are also many variations between these two options that may be needed to meet recommended social distancing practices. These modified return-to-school scenarios under consideration include scheduling some fraction of students in buildings on a given day (i.e. half the students in school every other day) and a return to school by level, which would likely have elementary students returning to school first, since middle and high school students are better able to engage in remote learning.

As a reminder, for schools to open either fully or partially, we would have to be in the "Green" phase and sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) would have to be available.

The following subcommittees are working through the pros, cons and implications of all of the scenarios under consideration:

  • Instructional Program
  • Health and Safety
  • Operations and Logistics
  • School Operations and Community
  • Technology
  • Governance
  • Communications

In addition, a subcommittee is working on steps that need to be completed before the end of the current school year. If you haven't already, you will be hearing soon from your building principals with information on promotion ceremonies and graduations, desk and locker cleanouts, medication pickup, and how to return textbooks and computers. We are continuing to work on how we may be able to deliver summer programs, such as SPIES and ESY, either virtually or in our buildings. We are also working with Right At School, as we know that there may be an increased need for childcare as the economy reopens, especially if school does not reopen fully at the same time.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do and decisions to make. I will provide you with updates on this work every other week or so. As always, you can continue to reach out to your principals and school counselors when you or your children need additional information or support. You can email the Lower Merion Board of School Directors at communitycomments@lmsd.org.

Sincerely,

Robert Copeland
Superintendent