Manheim Township School District continues to remain in daily contact with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Please know that as part of the district’s emergency preparedness plan, our core safety team (that includes personnel from health services, plant services, and district administrators) meets frequently to discuss planning measures to address the current situation regarding the COVID-19/Coronavirus.
All Lancaster County school districts continue to communicate with each other and will participate in regular state-wide online superintendent briefings with officials from PDE. We will continue to communicate with our stakeholders as situations change and information becomes available. We will continue to share with you WHAT we know, WHEN we know it.
Below you will find resources and communications that we have already sent out district-wide to our parents and staff. We will continue to update the community as we receive information to share; it is our continued goal to keep our community informed and provide information on how this may affect our students, parents, and community members.
September 11, 2020
What to Expect if the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) Notifies the District of a Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Case
The Manheim Township School District has a communication plan in place to notify our staff and families when we have individuals in our school buildings who have tested positive for COVID-19. The communication plan follows recommendations provided by the PA Department of Health (DOH).
- Positive cases with exposure: If you or your student are identified as a “close contact” of a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, you will be notified by the school district and/or the PA DOH with next steps.
- Positive cases without exposure: If you or your student are not identified as a “close contact” of a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, or if there has been no confirmed exposure within our district, you will not be notified by the school district and/or PA DOH.
For a more detailed accounting of the notification process that will be followed, please continue reading the steps listed below.
Communication Plan Details:
The following is an overview of the notification process which will occur when there is a confirmed positive COVID-19 case (staff or student) which includes exposure within our district, and what information you should expect to receive:
- The PA DOH will notify the district of a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result of an individual who was present in our schools/facilities.
- The PA DOH will ask administrators and MT Health Services staff for information to begin “contract tracing” once a positive test is confirmed (“confirmed positive case”). PA DOH staff will be seeking information regarding individuals who were considered to be in “close contact” with the confirmed positive case.
- MTSD administrators will assist by generating a list of individuals who were considered to be in “close contact” and therefore may have been exposed to the confirmed positive case. “Close contact” determinations will be made in accordance with the PA DOH guidelines.
- PA DOH or a MTSD administrator/health service staff member will contact individuals deemed to be in “close contact” to alert them of the possible exposure and to notify them to follow up directly with their primary care physician to discuss details, including recommended quarantines.
- If you do not receive direct communication from a MTSD administrator, health services staff member, or the PA DOH, that means that the PA DOH did not consider you or your student to be a “close contact” or at risk of exposure to the confirmed positive case.
- Once all individuals who are deemed “close contacts” have been notified by MTSD and/or the PA DOH, the District will communicate with faculty, staff, and families of those attending the impacted building to communicate the following:
- that an individual has tested positive for COVID-19, as confirmed by the PA DOH;
- that families or individuals who may have been exposed to the positive individual (“close contacts”) have been notified by the District and/or PA DOH;
- any additional information related to quarantine or health/safety that we have been advised to share by the PA DOH.
The District WILL NOT release the name or any identifying information associated with the confirmed positive COVID-19 case in compliance with state and federal laws related to privacy of healthcare information and privacy of student and employee records/information.
Please note that there may be circumstances where an individual has tested positive, however there was no building exposure (i.e. individual has not been in the school building during exposure times). When this occurs, the PA DOH recommends that communication is not provided to families because there was no exposure to our students and staff.
We appreciate the continued opportunity to communicate with our families and community on this topic. We are committed to ensuring that you receive timely and meaningful information related to COVID-19 so that you can take appropriate measures for the health and safety of yourself and your family.
April 27, 2020
Dear Parent and/or Guardian,
Today’s communication offers an update on three topics relating to our past several weeks of online instruction, the planning of the end-of-year events for the Class of 2020, and the substantial impact of the pandemic on district finances.
Online Learning: We have now successfully completed three full weeks of planned online instruction; we hope that your student’s academic schedule is starting to feel more comfortable and an important part of the daily routine. This “new normal” has thrust all of us together into the educational process for your student. We do not want this to be a period of undue stress for our families; please continue to reach out to your student’s teacher(s), school counselor, and/or principal for assistance when needed. Thank you so much for your patience, flexibility, and understanding as we have been adjusting, like many of you, to the drastic changes in our lives over these last few weeks. We are so appreciative of our staff, students, parents, administrators, and the entire community for the positivity and resilience shown during these difficult times.
As part of online educational programming, our staff is focused on creating and building relationships with students. We recognize the importance of making these personal connections now more than ever. We continue to hear from parents who share how their student looks forward to seeing their teacher and other students during the morning class meetings, or during volunteer classroom chat sessions.
We also are aware of the challenges of online learning. Some of you have shared concerns with the volume of work and expectations, while others have expressed feelings that more work or increased expectations are needed. We’ve also heard from families who feel that the content and expectations for their student’s education are working well. Each family and student situation is different, and we remain committed to working collaboratively with you in your student’s learning process.
Class of 2020: Our senior class is waiting patiently to hear updated information about their much anticipated end-of-school events that recognize and honor the Class of 2020: Senior Awards Ceremony, Prom, and Commencement. Our administrators are continuing to review many different, creative options for these important events, with a goal to provide an experience that will be both safe and meaningful for the students. Our Class of 2020 is a special group of students who are persevering in a positive way through the last months of their high school career. As soon as the plans are finalized for these end-of-school events, and recognizing the mandated safety guidelines at that time, the plans will be communicated with the students and parents of the Class of 2020. These are unprecedented times for everyone, but we remain committed to the importance of honoring these milestones and creating the best possible outcome for our graduating students.
Impact of Pandemic on District Budgeting: Just as the pandemic has caused challenges for educational programming and school life in general, it has also negatively impacted our district finances. Over the next several weeks, you may hear about many school districts across the Commonwealth facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. Our school district is not immune to these difficulties. The timing of these difficulties creates additional challenges since districts must vote on a school district budget by June 30. MTSD has been, and continues to be, greatly dependent on local revenue for school funding given that we are not eligible to receive comparable funding from federal and state sources. Therefore, since approximately 78% of our district expenditures are paid using local dollars, we are significantly impacted by the loss of local revenue during this pandemic. Consequently, our substantial deficit going into the next school year will require the need to pull emergency funds from the only legally allowable portion of our district budget, known as the “Unassigned General Fund Budget” which operates as an “emergency fund” for school districts when experiencing great need. MTSD Board Policy #623 and state law have legal parameters regarding the use and restrictions for these General Fund Budget dollars, so the district must continue to explore new, additional ways to decrease the deficit. At this time, we are working to reduce the negative fiscal impact of the pandemic on our district by planning for expenditure delays, salary freezes, and savings accrued through attrition and hiring freezes, which all contribute to retaining our fiscal health. A healthy balance is essential for several reasons, such as to phase-in mandated expenditures, save for unanticipated health insurance claims, and to maintain our healthy credit rating. Furthermore, industry financial experts continue to share concerns that the financial implications of the pandemic could negatively impact school districts for several years. We want to ensure that our district continues to operate effectively during these challenging times without affecting our strong quality of education.
During our May 14 School Board Work Session virtual meeting, we will be presenting a proposed preliminary budget while also reviewing the financial difficulties affecting our school district. Since we are continuing to facilitate our two monthly School Board meetings from a virtual platform, you can listen to the meeting from your home computer. We encourage you to look for more information about how you can participate in our virtual School Board meetings by visiting our website and clicking on the School Board tab.
In closing, thank you for your continued support of our district as we work together as a larger community to meet the needs of our students and the school district. We are truly #MTProud.
Dr. Robin L. Felty
Superintendent of Schools