Dear Parents, Guardians, Teachers, Staff, Students and Friends,
As school draws near and the COVID rate rises around the country, I know there are many questions and concerns out there about our plans for reopening. As all of you are aware, this is a very fluid situation, and as a public institution, we are bound by the dictates of the Governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Our full Health and Safety Plan, which is a detailed look at how we plan to reopen, is available on our website. I invite you to look through this, but let me try to break it down as much as I can at this minute in time:
As of 7/27/20 we are planning a full reopening of school. As per the Governor’s order, students will be required to wear face coverings (masks or shields) when they are not able to socially distance. That means that students will be required to wear face coverings on the bus and keep them on until they arrive in their classrooms. They will be required to wear them when they change classes (high school and middle school)), and they will need to wear them when they depart the building and during the bus ride home. They will not be required to wear them once they are seated in their classrooms. This means that we cannot fully guarantee that your child will remain socially distanced at all times in the classroom. This can be particularly true with younger students. However, we will make every effort possible to keep students at a safe distance from one another. Students will be allowed to bring water bottles and backpacks to school this year. Our water fountains will be closed in all buildings and will be replaced with touchless water bottle filling stations. We will be modifying our lunch schedules and seating, eating outdoors whenever possible. There will be hand sanitizing stations throughout all schools and classrooms. All science tables will have dividers to keep students apart. Our cleaning staff will be working to sanitize the entire building each evening using special foggers. We also have portable foggers we will use to sanitize each bus every day as well. We plan to do everything in our power to keep your children safe.
For those of you who are not yet ready to send your children back to school, your student will be able to participate in class online following the same curriculum and doing the same assignments as their peers in the building whenever possible. Our hope is that this will make for an easier transition back to the classroom when conditions permit. If you feel that cyber-school may be something you would like to pursue permanently, our cyber academy allows you to learn online but continue to be a Tussey Mountain Titan, eligible to participate in all extra-curricular activities.
On Monday, we will be sending out a survey that you have seen before. Many of you filled it out when we originally sent it out at the end of June. We are asking each family to fill out a separate form for each child. We need to know your plans for your students so we can make arrangements accordingly. This survey will close on August 5th when we will begin to call all families we have not heard from. I know it is still early and there is no way to tell what will happen with infection rate, but please make a best guess even if you are not 100% sure.
Throughout both the reopening in the fall and continuing throughout the school year, the Tussey Mountain School District will remain your full and committed partner to navigate any changes to this situation, and to adjust this tentative plan. We were directed to make changes as needed and changes may occur often as guidelines and mandates change. As we strive to minimize the overall effects of COVID-19, the health and safety of the entire school community remains our priority.
Be well, and take care of each other,
Dr. Jerry Shoemake