Dear Vanguard Families,
First, I hope everyone is doing well. As predicted, the Fall surge of this virus has hit and has made its’ presence known throughout the Southeast Region.
Please take the time to carefully read this email. It contains a great deal of information that is important to all of us.
As stated in update letters throughout October, we planned to open for 2 days/week of in-person instruction and grow to 4 days/week of in-person instruction starting on Monday, November 16, 2020 as long as it seemed safe to do so. Over the past several days, we have reviewed data provided by several different sources; CDC, PA Dept. of Health (DOH), PA Dept. of ED (PDE) and Chester County Health Department (CCHD). Based on these data points, we have decided to remain at 2 days of in-person/3 days of remote instruction for each student through at least the end of November. Your student will remain on the same schedule he/she is currently on. As of today (Nov. 11), the school (and the campus) will re-open following Thanksgiving Break on Monday, Nov. 30th retaining the current 2 days of in-person/3 days of remote instruction for each student per week.
I cannot stress enough that this is the decision as of today, Nov. 11. What occurs over next two weeks (11/11 – 11/23) will significantly inform our plans and our ability to retain any in-person instruction days. We will monitor information from the DOH, PDE and CCHD daily to be as informed as possible. You know and have heard it from me in the past, the safety of our students, adult participants and all staff at VFES is my priority. All decisions will be based on our ability to sustain a safe school/work environment for every individual who comes to campus.
While we believe we are capable, at this point, of retaining the 2 days in-person/3 day remote weekly hybrid model, that capability could change over just a few days. Therefore, I want to be fully transparent and clear as possible; in-person instruction may not be sustainable. As we continue to monitor all the data points listed below, I want to point out that needing to resort to 100% remote is a distinct possibility. I encourage all families to start planning now for your children to be home for remote instruction. I do not know when or even if, but I suspect with the ever increasing number of cases and based on what several counties and school districts decide to do, 100% remote instruction may be the only instructional model safe to employ. Upon return from Thanksgiving break, we will monitor our staffing, the continued surge in incidence rates and positivity rates over 5%. If we are able to continue to provide in-person following Thanksgiving break, we will adhere to the 2 days in-person/3 day remote weekly hybrid model for the remainder of the calendar year, that is, up to the Winter break which begins on Wednesday, December 23 as of 12:00 pm for The Vanguard School. You will be informed of the instructional model effective January 4, 2021 no later than December 21, 2020.
Below is the data we collected that led us to remain at 2 days in-person instruction/3 days remote instruction per week for the month of November and possibly through December:
1. Incidence Rates (IR) – Measures level of Community Transmission:
a. 100+/100,000 = Substantial; 10/100,000 = Moderate; <10/100,000 = Low
2. Positivity Rates (PR) – Measures percent of positive cases against total number tested:
a. >10% = Substantial; Between 5%-10% = Moderate; <5% = Low
3. Data is of November 5, 2020:
a. Chester County - IR – 84.9/100,000 – Moderate PR – 5.1% = Moderate
b. Delaware County - IR – 150/100,000 - Substantial PR – 7.6% = Moderate
c. Montgomery County - IR – 106.9/100,000 – Substantial PR – 5.2% = Moderate
d. Philadelphia County - IR – 164.7/100,000 – Substantial PR = 9.1% = Moderate
e. Berks County – IR - 156.1/100,000 – Substantial PR = 7.7% = Moderate
4. PDE recommends the following educational/instructional model for Counties based on IR:
a. Substantial category - resort to 100% Remote Instruction
b. Moderate category - either 100% Remote or a Hybrid model
c. Low category - either Hybrid or 100% in-person
5. We educate children from 9 counties and one other state (Delaware) – We have a high population of students from four of the five counties listed above who are in the Substantial category for Incidence Rates. Those four counties in the incidence rates ‘substantial category’ represent over 70% of the school’s current population.
Additional data points:
1. Staffing – We have averaged approximately 10 employees down each day since re-opening due to exposure incidents.
2. PA State Wide New Daily Case Counts:
a. Nov. 6 = 3898 (est.)
b. Nov. 7 = 3,402 (est.)
c. Nov. 8 = 2,909 (est.)
d. Nov. 9 = 4,361 (est.)
e. Nov. 10 = 4,711 (est.)
PA Travel Advisory List:
If a Vanguard School student has traveled to any of the states and/or countries listed on the PA Travel Advisory List (click here for list), then the student must quarantine at home for 14 days. The counting starts on the day after the student returned. For example, if Johnny and his family go to Florida for Thanksgiving and return on Sunday, November 29, then Johnny must quarantine starting on Monday, November 30 through December 13 and may return to school on December 14.
We are in the days projected by public health officials months ago. I appeal to our own sense of responsibility and ask all of us to wear masks outside, to social distance, to wash our hands and wipe down highly used spaces and, as we anticipate Thanksgiving to be very, very mindful of all of these guidelines while some of us host gatherings in our homes. Now is the time to ramp up efforts to follow these guidelines, not relax adherence.
We want to provide in-person instruction. We have all enjoyed seeing our students and adult participants and being back at work. However, we are at a delicate point and safety will always be the priority for me. Let’s all do our best to stay safe!
Grace Fornicola, PhD