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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
- 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.
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.
August 14, 2020
Dear MTSD Families,
We have two important updates to share with you as we approach the beginning of the school year, which begins on Tuesday, August 25. In our continued planning for the reopening of schools, the Board of School Directors voted approval last evening for the proposal to reopen schools for the upcoming school year.
Elementary (K-6): Students in Grades K-6 (elementary schools and Landis Run) will be following our Green phase for educational programming which includes full-time (Monday-Friday) Face-to-Face Instruction (Option #1), as well as full-time Remote Learning (Option #2), and MT Virtual Academy (Option #3). We are planning for early dismissal for the first week of school; please see the information below in this letter.
Secondary Students (7-12): Students in Grades 7-12 will begin the school year by following our Yellow phase for educational programming which includes a hybrid schedule with split attendance for the first three weeks of school (August 25 through September 11) with the goal to transition fully to the Green Phase by September 14th. The hybrid schedule will only affect secondary (Grade 7-12) students who selected Option 1, Face-to-Face. This will not affect the students who will be participating in Option 2, Remote Learning, or Option 3, MT Virtual Academy since those students will learn online on a full-time basis. This “split attendance” approach involves dividing the total number of Option 1 students in half, placing students into groups A and B. For the split attendance (Option #1 Face-to-Face) distinction, the following process and schedule will be used:
- Students in Grades 7-12 with Last name A to L will be in Group A
- Students in Grades 7-12 with Last name M to Z will be in Group B
|Group A||Attend School||Attend School||Remote Learning||Remote Learning||Remote Learning|
|Group B||Remote Learning||Remote Learning||Attend School||Attend School||Remote Learning|
The decision to move from the Green phase to a temporary Yellow phase/hybrid approach for students in Grades 7-12 was based on the results of the family survey, which showed a higher enrollment of students in the middle school and high school selecting the Face-to-Face Instruction option. Therefore, by temporarily using a hybrid/split attendance approach for our secondary students in our larger buildings, it will allow our administrators to carefully monitor the status of our student attendance and the efficacy of our safety measures to ensure we are fully implementing the components of the approved PDE Health and Safety Plan. At the September 10th School Board Work Session, we will provide a progress report on the Health and Safety Plan for all 9 schools, including any adjustments that need to be made to the current plan. The goal is to return secondary students to the green phase (regular full-time Monday-Friday daily attendance schedule) on Monday, September 14th. We will continue to provide updates on the progress of our safety plan throughout the year.
Early Dismissals for First Week of School K-12: Recognizing the importance of gradually transitioning students back to school, especially since they have not been in our buildings for instructional time since mid-March due to the shutdown last spring, we are planning to schedule early dismissals for the first week of school – Tuesday, August 25 through Friday, August 28. Early dismissals allow students to transition back to school with more ease, and promote opportunities for teachers and students to establish relationships, learn routines and safety protocols, and become oriented to Schoology, Seesaw, and other instructional platforms. It also offers more time for professional development for staff during the afternoons. The schedule for the first week of school is as follows:
|Tuesday, August 25 through Friday, August 28|
|Start Time||Early Dismissal Time|
You will receive communication next week from your student(s)’ principals, teachers, and/or the MT Virtual Academy supervisor regarding important information for the start of school. Whether your student(s) are participating in Option #1, Option #2, or Option #3, they will receive the information needed to prepare for the return to school, remote learning, or setting up courses in MTSD Virtual Academy.
In addition, we have created a video of an interview with Dr. Susan Mellinger, school district medical physician, that highlights responses to frequently asked questions from families and staff. Click here to view Dr. Mellinger’s interview.
We are enthusiastically looking forward to the start of the 2020-2021 school year. These past few months have been challenging, but what is best for our students and staff was always at the forefront of our intense planning process. We are accepting the uncertainty in our landscape at this time due to the pandemic, and moving forward strategically with our safety plan to prepare our students for this upcoming school year.
We greatly appreciate your continued support as we reopen schools this fall with our safety plan in place.
Dr. Robin Felty
Superintendent of Schools
The information presented to the school board is below.