Reopening Our Schools
and Safety Plans
As Manheim Township School District prepares for the reopening of schools for fall 2020, we recognize the need to address the recommendations/guidelines for health and safety from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADoH), and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are working to develop strong educational programming, interventions, and supports that first and foremost provide social interaction, a semblance of a return to normalcy, and full access to instruction for all of our students. The Manheim Township School District’s plan to reopen schools will seek to be differentiated, based upon the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s red, yellow, or green status for Lancaster County.
Manheim Township School District's leadership team (which includes personnel from health services, plant services, curriculum & instruction, and various other departments and district administrators), along with representation from the Lancaster County medical/health field, meet regularly to discuss planning measures to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Designated Task Forces that focus on the topics of Health and Safety, Instructional Programming, Student Services, Special and Gifted Education, and Operations will collaboratively present their draft plans for preparedness to reopen schools to a district-wide Steering Committee, who will offer feedback to the ideas. The Steering Committee is comprised of students, parents, district staff members, principals, district office administrators, and School Board members. A final plan to reopen schools will be presented and voted upon at the Thursday, July 30, 2020 Special Public School Board Meeting to be held in the MT High School Auditorium at 7:00pm.
Below you will find updates and district-wide parent communications regarding the district's plans to reopen schools. We are encouraging feedback from all MT community members (not just those on the Steering Committee) about the updates posted on our website. For offering comments and/or questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. When emailing a concern or question, please include your contact information so someone can respond back to you.
We will continue to update the community via our website when there is updated information to share; we remain committed to keeping our community informed about our planning to reopen schools this fall.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you please clarify some of the terms that are being used?
- MT Flex - The instructional strategy that teachers will employ when delivering instruction to students who have selected Option 1 (Face to Face) and to students who have selected Option 2 (Remote Learning).
- Hybrid - Available ONLY to Secondary level students whose unique circumstances require them to take a combination of face to face MT classes at the MS or HS AND at least one class through MTVA, the MT Virtual Academy. This type of schedule is handled on a case by case basis through collaboration between the student, parent, counselor, and principal.
- “Yellow” - This is a government-instituted phase of pandemic management that the district would comply with, instituting a ~50% reduction in the population of students that we welcome to our buildings each day.
- Synchronous - scheduled “live” instruction and learning times
- Asynchronous - scheduled independent learning and work times
- Live Streamed - live video and audio coverage of the classroom over the Internet.
- Remote - instruction occurring in the home setting (not in a MTSD classroom).
- When do I need to complete the survey? Is this a survey or my choice?
- The purpose of this survey is to indicate the instructional option that you are choosing for your student to start the 20-21 school year.
- The option that you select by 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday (8/5/20) will be the option in which your student will start the 2020-2021 school year.
- Can I make a different choice for different children in my family? Or, do all of my children need to choose the same instructional mode?
- When completing the survey, you will submit an individual choice for each student in your home. This will empower you to customize your plans based on the unique needs of each student.
- Can my child choose to attend some classes Face-to-Face but Remote Learning via MT Flex for others?
- No. Presently, we are asking that parents commit their student to either Option 1 (Face to Face: attending school daily), or, Option 2 (Remote Learning).
- What length of time am I being asked to adhere to the option that I’m choosing at this time? Am I able to change my choice?
- We are asking that families commit to this choice, minimally, for the duration of the first marking period, which concludes on 10/30/20 so that teachers and principals can plan for staffing and instruction. By mid/late Marking Period 1, we will be back in touch with you with any new or updated information to share.
- How do I indicate my choice for the start of the 2020-2021 school year?
- To make a selection, please access the Sapphire Community Web Portal.
- If you do not have a Community Portal account set up from previous school years, instructions on creating an account are available at this link.
- If you are unable to remember your Username/Password/Pin, or do not see all of your students within the portal, please contact your student’s school or email email@example.com and provide your name as well as the name of your student.
- Once logged into the Portal, please follow the steps outlined below:
- Select your student from the left hand-menu on the Home screen. Please note that you will repeat this process for each of your students.
- Click on the "2020-2021 Enrollment Form" (Forms Awaiting Completion)
- If this link does not appear click on “Student Data Forms” found on the left side of the screen under “Student Backpack”
- View each of the following resources (click next to advance):
- Welcome Video
- Explanation of Choices
- Complete the prompts/questions on upon each the following topics:
- School Choice
- Home Internet Access
- Transportation (Face-to-Face Option Only)
- Mask Agreement
- Parent/Guardian & Emergency Contact Information Update
- Be sure to click “Complete Form” located at the bottom of page 5 when finished
- If you need additional assistance with accessing the survey, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How do I change my choice now that I have read the FAQ? How do I change my choice if after the August School Board meeting, new information is shared that changes my mind?
- You may revise your selections by re-submitting the form in the Community Web Portal until Noon on Wednesday, 8/5/2020. After initial completion, the “2020-2021 Enrollment Form” will be found under “Student Data Forms” in the left-hand menu.
- This deadline is critical for effectively planning instruction and staffing needs, however should an unexpected situation arise that requires you to change your instructional selection after 8/5, please contact your student’s Principal.
- If new information is shared at the August school board meeting that would impact the instructional choices, we will communicate how to make those changes. At this point in time, the school board has approved these three instructional programming choices for the start of the 20-21 school year.
- Is MTSD offering a hybrid model?
- For the start of the 20-21 school year, MTSD is offering 3 options for parents to choose from:
- Option 1: Face to Face (100% attend in person)
- Option 2: Remote Learning (100% remote)
- Option 3: Manheim Township Virtual Academy (MTVA)
- The only hybrid model available to students is for those choosing to take a combination of face to face MT classes at the MS or HS AND at least one class through MTVA, the MT Virtual Academy. This type of schedule is handled on a case by case basis through collaboration between the student, parent, counselor, and principal. Parents of students who have this type of schedule will still need to select whether or not they plan to have their student attend their MT classes face to face (option 1) or remotely (option 2). All MTVA courses will be delivered remotely.
- If the district should need to move to the “yellow” phase, there will be a change for our students who have chosen Option 1: Face to Face. This option will involve splitting our face to face students into two learning groups: Group A (last names A-L) and Group B (last names M-Z). Group A will attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, Group B will attend school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On the days that these groups are not in school face to face, these students will learn remotely. Groups A and B will learn remotely on Fridays. The cameras that our teachers have will allow for students to receive this remote instruction from their teachers either synchronously (live) or asynchronously (recorded).
- If most of our families choose the face to face option, will this force the district into the yellow model?
- At this point in time, choosing the face to face option of returning to school will not determine the color phases (yellow or red).
- Should I choose Option 2 because of the possibility of going to the red phase?
- This is a personal choice for each family. The school district can not predict if or when we may move to a Red phase and be moved entirely online. Regardless of which option a family chooses, the district will work with our students to provide them with instruction and curriculum as we may transition to different color phases.
- Will MT Flex decrease the number of students and class size in our buildings?
- Providing our families with learning options that they are comfortable with is the focus for MT Flex. Once we receive the data from our family survey, we will make data-driven decisions regarding class sizes and schedules. We recognize that we may need to make some adjustments to our schedules and class arrangements based on this data. We are confident that all students who select Options 1 or 2 will be engaged with a Manheim Township School District teacher.
- How will class sizes work at the elementary and secondary levels?
- Based upon the selections made by our families, schedules and class rosters may need to be adjusted.
- Will the survey choices drive the decision of how our schools will hold classes such as face to face or online?
- We are equipped and ready to host student learning across a wide range of parent-choice outcomes.
- Will social media comments change the instructional options for MTSD?
- The MTSD proposed three instructional options to begin the 20-21 school year. These options were approved by the MTSD School Board on 7/30/20.
- By selecting Choice 2 (Remote Learning), are there any courses/programs students will not be able to take?
- We recognize that some of our courses and programs will lend to an easier interface for students who are participating from home. Still, our professional staff will seek to do their best in the way of teaching content and assessing standards in all classrooms and courses.
- How will band/chorus/orchestra work at the HS and MS levels for Remote Learning (Option 2) students?
- We are working to find solutions and will notify you when plans are finalized.
- We know that we need to be prepared to honor the use of PPE, social distancing, and cleaning procedures for our face to face students, and, we are working on how to meet the needs of our learners who will participate remotely. District, building, and teacher leaders are all engaged in how best to make instruction work in our music classrooms, K-12.
- Will new student orientation programs be available to students who choose Option 2 (Remote Learning) and Option 3 (MTVA students)?
- Yes, we are currently working on student orientation programs for both of these options. Families who select these options will be contacted later in August with further information.
- How is transportation available to students who would like to participate in extracurricular activities if they chose Option 2 (Remote Learning) or Option 3 (MTVA)?
- Parents will need to provide transportation to and from their student’s school in order to participate in such activities.
January 22, 2021
Dashboard Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The district’s COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily, and we continue to work closely with and follow the guidance of the PA Department of Health. We communicate with you regularly regarding each new case that is confirmed so that all families and staff are aware of the status of our schools. Please see the FAQs below for more information about the COVID-19 Dashboard and information provided regularly to our community.
What numbers are reported on the District’s COVID Dashboard?
The number of positive cases and probable cases of COVID-19 that have been reported to the school district and confirmed by the PA Department of Health. This Dashboard also includes the number of cases year-to-date. The confirmed positive and probable cases by building are within a 14-day rolling period.
I know some faculty/students who are on quarantine but it’s not on the Dashboard. Why?
We do not track the number of individuals under quarantine on the COVID Dashboard. Confirmed positive and probable cases reported on the Dashboard are those cases that occur with our faculty/staff or student population that have an impact on our schools in terms of exposures to others in the building. If a staff member or student is exposed to COVID-19 outside of school and is quarantining as a result, the case is not reported through our Dashboard (unless the individual becomes symptomatic) because it does not have an impact on our school. If the individual becomes symptomatic, then this is considered a probable case, and depending on details in the case investigation, may be reported in the Active Probable Column. The overall total could change as test results from probable cases are received and determined to be negative, meaning a probable case is no longer considered active and close contacts no longer need to quarantine.
Why does the Dashboard show zero active cases when the District reports cases each day?
All positive and probable cases are reflected on the Dashboard in either the Active Confirmed Positive or Active Probable columns (if there was building exposure), or added to the Year-to-Date totals for each building if there was no building exposure. In some positive or probable cases, there was either no building exposure, or the last date the individual(s) were in the building was before a recent school closing/extended weekend/holiday break. When a building or school is closed for three or more days, the Department of Health guidelines state that the active positive and probable case count resets to zero for their tracking purposes. An example is if our buildings are closed for an extended weekend or holiday break, the Dashboard number of Active Positives and Probables reset to zero because the district was provided the additional time for continued cleaning and disinfecting, thus resetting the case count. In these specific circumstances, cases are added to the Year-to-Date totals and not to the Active columns.
Why don’t we hear about confirmed positive cases right away?
The district sends out a daily notification of positive and/or probable cases every day, unless there are no cases to report for that day. Once we are notified of a possible positive COVID-19 case, the district works with the school administrators, nurses, and faculty/staff to provide the Department of Health with information so the case can be confirmed, and we can begin contact tracing and communicating with any possible exposures regarding both the case and the quarantines required. Our administrators also contact any parents/guardians of students as well as any faculty/staff who may have been exposed to notify them directly before the Department of Health contacts them.
After all of these communications have occurred, we update our Dashboard and email our daily COVID notification to our families with confirmation of new cases since the last update.
Do we automatically close when we reach a certain number of cases?
The PA Department of Health/PA Department of Education offers guidance for school districts that provides a detailed look at the number of COVID cases in the school buildings related to size, and how to address the need for temporary school closure and cleaning. The guidance provides recommendations specific to small school buildings (under 500 students), medium (500-900 students) and large buildings (over 900 students) in regards to the number of cases in the buildings and when to close buildings for thorough cleaning.
- K-4 buildings (Brecht, Bucher, Neff, Nitrauer, Reidenbaugh, Schaeffer) are considered “small” buildings under these guidelines and the range is 2-4 cases.
- LRIS, MS, and MTHS are considered “large” buildings under these guidelines and the range is 6-10 cases.
The recommendation is to consider a short-term closure if cases are within the range specific to the school. Staffing shortages can also trigger a short-term closure with a switch to remote learning. We review the data and recommendations many times throughout the day, and remain dedicated to keeping our faculty, staff, families, and students informed of any changes to our normal operations with as much notice as possible.
The PA Department of Health/PA Department of Education guidance includes information on case investigation, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, and provides protocols for what schools should do when a student or staff present symptoms of COVID-19 but are not a confirmed case. They also note that if case investigations, contact tracing, and cleaning and disinfecting can be accomplished in less time (than specified in the guidance), the length of closure time may be shortened.
Why was a school closed due to a staffing shortage, but the COVID-19 Dashboard shows zero staff quarantined or Active Positive/Probable cases in that school?
Confirmed positive cases reported on the Dashboard are those that occur with our faculty/staff or student population that have an impact on our schools in terms of exposures to others in school or the need to quarantine others who may have been exposed at school. If a staff member or student is exposed to COVID-19 outside of school and is quarantining as a result, the case is not reported on our Dashboard because it does not have an impact on our school. In addition, individuals who are quarantining due to travel are not listed in the COVID Dashboard.
There may be staff absent due to personal (outside-of-school exposures with no impact on students or staff) or other illness or reasons. We are bound to follow certain social distancing and health and safety guidelines as a requirement of staying open for in-person instruction at this time. If we do not have the staff to ensure these guidelines are followed appropriately, we may need to close the school for one day or more until we are able to hold in-person instruction with the required protocols in place.
January 15, 2021
January 15, 2021
Updated Quarantine Guidelines and Recommendations
The district continues to review the CDC and PADoH guidelines for length of quarantine. As recommendations continue to change or be revised, our Health Services Department is the best point of contact for our parents to ask questions or receive the most updated information for the various options of quarantine based on each specific circumstance.
- Full Quarantine: This remains the safest option for individuals to quarantine for 14 days from a non-household exposure.
- Shortened Quarantine*: If the close contact has no symptoms during quarantine, the individual may leave quarantine after 10 days. He/she should continue to monitor the symptoms and be very careful about wearing a mask and social distancing for the full 14-days.
- *If the individual has direct contact with a COVID+ household member, and the COVID+ household member cannot self-isolate, then the individual must complete the 10-day quarantine with an additional 10 days after the COVID+ individual is no longer infectious (which is 10 days from symptom onset). This may mean that an individual with household exposure, and cannot self-isolate, may be quarantined up to 24 days.
- If the individual has direct contact with a COVID+ household member, and the COVID+ household member can self-isolate, then the individual must complete the 10-day quarantine, and no additional quarantine days are needed. The individual must be symptom-free before returning to school. Monitoring for symptoms must continue on days 11-14.
- If the individual has contact with a COVID+ individual who is not a member of his/her household, the individual must complete a 10-day self-quarantine and remain symptom-free before returning to school. Monitoring for symptoms must continue on days 11-14.