Dear Parent and/or Guardian;
It’s hard to believe that the school year has almost come to a close. At this time each year, I typically reflect on our students’ achievements, the accomplishments of our strategic plan goals, and the difficult experiences encountered that further strengthened the district. This reflection often occurs simultaneously with our planning for the culmination of our students’ educational career – the commencement ceremony. Our graduating Class of 2020 is a very special group of students; they collectively have risen above the challenges presented to them by our current pandemic. These students are more resilient, flexible, and responsive because of the adversity they experienced. These traits will contribute to their future success well after graduation.
In the same way, our entire student body has worked hard this year to overcome the obstacles that may have occurred when the Governor closed our schools in mid-March. I am proud not only of how our teachers and school staff worked together to provide instruction and services online, but also how our students responded to this significant educational change in their lives. It has been a learning curve for all of us. And I know it has greatly impacted our families as many of you were juggling work and general parenting responsibilities while also supporting your student(s)’ online education.
As we move into the summer months, our school district is continuing to develop the details for the plan to reopen all nine schools on Tuesday, August 25 for the 2020-2021 school year. Over the past several weeks, there have been quite a few local, state, and national news articles sharing recommendations for reopening schools next year. At this time, there have been no definitive structures provided for educational programming – just recommendations to address student and staff health and safety. Since Pennsylvania holds a local-based decision-making framework for education, the Department of Education (PDE) has shared that school districts need to decide the approach(es) they will be using for the provision of education this fall. We expect to receive guidelines soon from the PDE to assist in our planning efforts. We will review and consider these guidelines as well as the guidelines from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the PA Department of Health. As always, we will continue to do what’s in the best interest of our students, staff, and the district.
Our planning process for reopening schools this fall involves the facilitation of a Steering Committee and six (6) different Task Forces. The overarching goal of the Steering Committee is to ensure coherence and equity in planning for our reopening measures. This committee of (40) individuals is comprised of students, parents, teachers, counselors, principals, district office administrators, and School Board members. They will be meeting on scheduled dates in June and July to hear about the district’s planning, including updates from our Task Forces. The committee will provide feedback on our planning throughout the process. The final plan for reopening schools will hold several educational options for students, options that incorporate in-person instruction (in our schools) and/or part-time or full-time online learning. Families will be able to decide what option works best for their student(s). Our well-vetted reopening plan will ensure the continued provision of strong educational programs, interventions and supports, while actively promoting safety measures. Our plan will also honor students’ need for social interaction and a semblance of a return to normalcy.
A final detailed plan for reopening schools will be in place by the end of July. As shared earlier, this plan will hold several options for educational programming. Throughout the summer months, we will continue to provide you with updates about our planning measures. We will be using a designated location on our website to post all of these updates, so you can read about the details of our planning throughout the summer.
In summary, please be assured that we are prepared to meet your student’s education and safety needs this fall when we reopen schools. We recognize that you desire information well in advance of the start of the school year; thus, our planning efforts have every intention to meet this need to provide you with enough time to choose an option that is best for your student and family.
Also, we will continue our Grab and Go lunches this summer at Bucher and Schaeffer Elementary Schools from June 8 through August 14, 11:30am-12:30pm (no lunch on July 3). Feel free to stop by any of these locations over the summer to receive a free Grab and Go lunch. Breakfast for the following day will also be provided, if desired, when you pick up a Grab and Go lunch.
I hope your family has the opportunity to rest and reenergize over the summer. You have contributed immensely to the success of our district. Thank you for continuing to make Manheim Township a great district.
Have a wonderful summer.
Dr. Robin L. Felty
Superintendent of Schools