Dear Vanguard Families,

After a thorough review of several data points, I have decided to retain remote instruction through at least the middle of January 2021. 
 
This decision was extremely difficult, but after careful consideration, I simply could not dismiss the continuing surge in incidence rates and substantial positivity rates in our region. Additionally, we considered public school decisions, as well as our own staffing needs.  Since October 19, 2020, our organization, with the majority of the cases being in The Vanguard School, have experienced the following cases:

1. Positive Cases:                                        Staff = 7              Students = 0
2. Quarantine due to close contact:             Staff = 20            Students = 9
3. Quarantine due to travel:                         Staff = 3              Students = 5
 
We have implemented strong protocols while in the school buildings, but we cannot control where our staff and students go after work/school. None of this is preferable. None of it! However, I cannot subject students and staff to an increasing risk of infection during what some public health leaders are predicting will be the absolute worst winter in our nation's public health.
 
Any exposure/infection incurred over the Thanksgiving break will most likely begin to reveal itself by the end of next week into the week of December 14. The potential of attempting in-person instruction for what might amount to one week only to have to shift to all remote the following week is unfair, if not confusing, for our students. While some of you will not agree with this decision, it is a decision that will remain in place for at least the next 6 weeks. I hope this assists you in long-term planning. However, keep in mind, that remote instruction could extend into February, if not the full month of February.
 
The good news is this back and forth with instructional models and the uncertainty of becoming infected or not will soon begin to subside as vaccines start to be approved. The arrival of a vaccine to mitigate and significantly reduce the spread of the virus and/or the severity of infection is something to focus on. 
 
I know remote instruction is difficult for many of our students and not as meaningful. I feel we have one more mountain to climb before we can safely consider returning to in-person instruction. The Thanksgiving holiday and the Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s holidays are going to be the reason cases surge in December and January and possibly February. This is why I ask you to stay open-minded and as flexible as possible. The possibility of returning in January is entirely dependent on the same data: incidence rates, positivity rates, staffing, local public schools and PDE/DOH recommendations. As I’ve said, it is very possible a return to in-person could be delayed into late February or longer. We just do not know.
 
In summary, remote instruction will remain the instructional model for all students of The Vanguard School through at least Friday, January 15, 2021. The first date we will consider providing in-person, hybrid instruction will be Tuesday, January 19, 2021. This decision will be made and communicated to you no later than Thursday, January 14, 2021. 
 
I thank you for your understanding and the sacrifices you are making to assist your student(s) at home. We will do everything we can to support you and your student through this difficult time.
 
I wish you all a safe, healthy holiday season!

Best,
Grace

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