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.
November 24, 2020
Dear Manheim Township Staff and Families,
Please read below for an important update. Yesterday afternoon, Governor Wolf and the Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, held a press conference outlining new efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Some of those efforts focused on new mandates for school districts that are in the “substantial transmission stage.” At this time, all but four counties in the state are in the substantial transmission stage. The new orders for school districts in this stage include updated guidance and mandates regarding face coverings, temporary school instructional models, and gatherings.
Given these new orders, and Governor Wolf’s joint public statement (with the Governors of the Northeastern states) on November 19 regarding the importance of in-person learning, even in communities with high transmission rates, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has provided districts with a framework that allows in-person learning to continue while still focusing steadfastly on safety measures. Those safety measures involve the need for districts to enforce three key items; the first two are outlined on an attestation form to be signed by the Superintendent and the School Board President:
- Compliance with the wearing of face coverings;
- Compliance with the procedures for instructional programming, case investigation, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, and cleaning efforts when a specified number of positive and probable cases occur within a school; and,
- Compliance with spectator participation requirements at school events and gatherings.
Universal Face Coverings
The updated Order requires all employees, students, and visitors to wear a face covering. Prominent signs must be posted and visible, stating that face coverings are required by the Order of the Secretary of Health. School districts may provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with a documented medical condition that makes it unreasonable for the person to wear a face covering. In order for our schools to remain open, staff and students must comply with the updated face covering order.
In our current PDE Health & Safety Plan, MTSD has required the wearing of face coverings at all times since the onset of this school year. There is “no change’ for our district; we are already in compliance with the updated Order. We will be posting more signs throughout our facilities that speak to the requirement of face coverings by the Secretary of Health.
Additional information on the updated Order requiring universal face coverings can be found here.
PreK – 12 Public School Districts Identification of COVID-19
The PDE offers new guidance for school districts (linked HERE) that provides a more detailed look at the number of COVID cases in 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.
- Our K-4 buildings (Brecht, Bucher, Neff, Nitrauer, Reidenbaugh, Schaeffer) are considered “small” buildings under these guidelines;
- LRIS, MTMS, and MTHS are all considered “large” buildings under these guidelines.
This new guidance includes information on case investigation, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, and provides information on what schools should do when a student or staff present symptoms of COVID-19 but are not a confirmed case. The PDE also notes that if case investigations, contact tracing, and cleaning and disinfecting can be accomplished in a faster time frame (than those listed on the chart), the length of closure time may be shortened.
MTSD will continually examine both county and district data, as well as consult with our local healthcare providers and the PA Department of Health in the implementation of our safety measures. Our Instructional Schedule for November 30 – January 22 has reduced the number of students in our buildings by remaining on a hybrid (“Yellow”) schedule for our schools, with a slow integration of face-to-face instruction at our elementary buildings. If at any time we need to pivot temporarily to full remote instruction due to issues associated with positive/probable cases, we will communicate with our families as soon as possible. This pivoting is part of the process outlined in the new guidance for school districts.
Requirements for Events and Gatherings
Revisions were also made to spectator participation at school district events and gatherings. The PDE has provided information relating to the maximum occupancy for indoor and outdoor events. This information (linked HERE) will be used as the district plans for spectator participation for winter athletic events and other gatherings.
Our PDE Health & Safety Plan will be updated to include the new Orders and the attestation form. Thank you for your patience as we work through this information. As a district, we will remain as responsive and communicative about these mandates and all other COVID related situations, as appropriate.
Dr. Robin L. Felty
Superintendent of Schools
November 20, 2020
November 20, 2020
Dear Manheim Township Families;
Today’s correspondence provides another important update on the educational programming for our K-12 schools starting the week of November 30 – January 22, 2021. After receiving feedback from our parents, students, and staff regarding the health and safety of our schools during this recent spike of COVID-19 positive cases in the community, the MTSD Administration will initiate a shift in educational programming, effective immediately. The schedule below outlines the framework of the K-12 plan.
Updated Schedule in Instructional Programming
|Week of||Plan Status||Grades K-4||Grades 5-6||Grades 7-8||Grades 9-12|
|12/7/2020||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Green||Yellow||Yellow||Yellow|
|12/14/2020||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Green||Green||Yellow||Yellow|
|12/21/2020||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Green||Green||Yellow||Yellow|
|12/28/2020||OFF (Holiday Break)|
|1/4/2021||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Yellow||Yellow||Yellow||Yellow|
|1/11/2021||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Green||Yellow||Yellow||Yellow|
|1/18/2021||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Green||Green||Yellow||Yellow|
|1/25/2021||Tentative (Subject to Change)||Green||Green||Green||Green|
- Yellow references a hybrid learning model where students attend 2 days per week in their “A” or “B” Group (“C” Group students attend daily in Yellow).
- Green references in-person, face-to-face instruction.
Building principals will communicate details regarding the Yellow/hybrid schedule in their weekly school communication.
On the chart where the weeks are listed as tentative/subject to change, the administration will inform families of any necessary changes as soon as possible. (for example, significant numbers of probable/positive cases resulting in staffing issues, quarantine spread, etc.)
The “split attendance” approach in the hybrid (Yellow) schedule involves dividing the total number of in-person students in half, placing students into groups A and B. For the split attendance (face-to-face) distinction, the following process and schedule will be used:
- Students with a last name beginning with A to L will be in Group A and will report to school on Monday and Tuesday
- Students with a last name beginning with M to Z will be in Group B and will report to school on Wednesday and Thursday
- Students in Group C:
- “Group C” students: MDS, ES, LSS, AS
- “Group C” attends face-to-face on all “Yellow” days
- Fridays will be remote learning for Group A and Group B students while in the Yellow phase. Group C will attend in-person.
Governor Wolf’s Travel Restrictions and Updated Mask Orders
We cannot stress enough that our district can only control what happens within the walls of our buildings. We know there is community spread of the COVID-19 virus within Lancaster County, throughout our state, and throughout the country. Our own personal responsibility to maintain safe practices within our community is imperative to our continuation of in-person learning.
This week, the PA Department of Health issued an order restricting travel outside of Pennsylvania, which includes mandates for any resident who leaves the state and returns. The Order takes effect today, November 20, and will remain in effect until further notice.
What exactly does this mean for you?
According to the Order: “Pennsylvania residents who visit other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before their return home or to quarantine for 14 days upon return.” We understand that many families may have previously scheduled trips or outings; however, the District must comply with this Order from the PA Department of Health. If you plan to travel outside of Pennsylvania for the Thanksgiving holiday, the district must follow the mandate and your student will be required to quarantine for 14 days, or obtain a negative test result to return to school. In addition, any previously approved educational trip(s) will remain approved; however, the aforementioned negative COVID-19 test or a 14-day travel quarantine will be required to return to school. If you do plan to travel over the holidays, please contact your building principal.
While this Order restricts travel to other states, the purpose of the mandate is to limit travel and contact with those who do not reside in your household. We encourage everyone to be extra cautious during this holiday season. If you host or attend a holiday gathering, please wear a mask when indoors and keep a distance from people not in your household. In addition to the travel restrictions, the Governor issued a second new Order that included an update on Universal Mask Coverings.
Continuing to follow both of these Orders is essential for helping to keep our schools open for in-person instruction and all other activities. Thank you in advance for following these guidelines and Orders, for having continued conversations with your student(s) about being safe, and for continuing to make decisions with your family to reduce the risk of spread.
Please continue to practice all safety measures, both in and out of school. It is important to report any symptoms, COVID testing, and/or any close contact with a positive case to your school nurse, so our district can monitor and implement contact tracing.
Safety remains our top priority. For the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of our students, we must as a community work together to support each other. Your diligence and cooperation in following all safety protocols is appreciated. As a district, we will remain as responsive and transparent as possible on this and all other COVID related situations, as appropriate.
Dr. Robin L. Felty
Superintendent of Schools