Dear Vanguard Families,
I hope this letter finds you and your families remaining healthy and staying safe. We want to provide you with an update on our planning to safely bring students and staff back to campus for a hybrid-based model of instruction.
Our goal is to be able to provide in-person instruction for every student at least 2 days/week. The other 3 days of the week will remain remote. We do not have the details yet of what the school program will be on campus on what days. We will communicate with all families as soon as we have worked out the details. Our entire decision-making approach is based on data regarding COVID-19. You may recall, we originally were considering 2 options once it was safe to re-open--remaining 100% remote OR in-person instruction 4 days/one day remote. That one day remote was designed to allow for a thorough cleaning of campus. Since the beginning of the school year, we have continued to monitor the data from the PA Dept. of Health, Chester County Dept. of Health, the CDC and other highly respected public health and medical entities in our region. We will continue to do this and have this data be an important source upon which we will base our ultimate consideration, which is whether we are able to safely provide a hybrid-based model of instruction.
We all knew and know, that many of our students struggle with remote instruction. That is a reality we strive to address every day. However, my number one priority is to ensure the safety of all students and staff. We all know that the data associated with tracking the virus changes day-to-day. I am still committed to following that data, however, I am also encouraged by the lack of spread in schools across our region. We have revisited our Health and Safety Plan (HSP) and with an abundance of precautions and protocols, we will strive to provide in-person instruction by the end of October. Our original goal was to provide instruction effective November 9, 2020. The potential date of October 26, 2020 would move the hybrid re-opening up by approximately 2 weeks.
With the revisiting of our HSP comes the reminder of how important it will be for all students and staff to wear masks during the school day. Equally important will be routine handwashing and social distancing. These preventative precautions are not always easily adhered to by our students. We will need to be hyper-vigilant in supervising and reinforcing the importance of all the public health guidelines. By having approximately 50% of the school back at a time, we believe we are able to better enforce the public health guidelines. However, I cannot make any guarantees about the spread of this virus. It will take all of us--students, staff and families--to do everything we can to reduce the likelihood of the spread of the virus on campus and during the school day.
We have begun to work out everything from staffing needs to student groupings to informing school districts of our revised re-opening plan. Transportation may become a hurdle for some of the school districts. I encourage all families to advocate for their students should transportation become an issue with home school districts. We will be sending an update to all transportation departments on Friday, September 25 regarding our tentative new re-opening date. This will give them time to begin preliminary planning of transportation needs for The Vanguard School students that come from each district. You are welcome to make arrangements for transporting your child without the assistance of the school district.
There are many details to be worked out, as I indicated, from transportation to schedules and groupings to deep-cleaning. We have started the concrete approach of working these details out. Our goal is to have all the necessary components in place to offer hybrid in-person instruction by October 19, 2020. We will communicate the decision to go forward with hybrid in-person instruction or to postpone (based upon viral spread data) no later than Tuesday, October 20. The week of October 19 will be dedicated to training and classroom/related services prep. The Vanguard School will open for hybrid in-person instruction on Monday, October 26, 2020 for families who are comfortable sending their students to The Vanguard School (PLEASE NOTE: Based on COVID-19 data, this date is subject to change). Any family who wishes to keep their student in remote instruction will be able to do so. Look for additional information on how to select remote instruction for your student and what school programs will be coming to campus on what days in the next few weeks. Please keep in mind, that it is very likely that The Vanguard School will operate on a hybrid model for the duration of the academic year.
We all agree our students learn best and have the best chance of thriving when they are in the classroom. Our kids need that physical presence, that hand-over-hand attention, that structure and follow-through that is most successfully done through in-person instruction. We are attempting to create as safe an environment as possible in order to provide that instruction.
Thank you for being there for your student during this difficult time. We are determined to get back to school. We remain mindful of the various data points, yet plan to be able to guard against this virus in order to offer in-person instruction.
We will be sending weekly updates to keep you informed. Look for the next update on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
Please continue to take extra care to remain safe and healthy during this time.
All my best,
Grace Fornicola, PhD