A Message from the Superintendent -- November 5, 2020

Dear Butler Area School District Families: 

I know you have received a lot of communication from me so far this evening and this school year for that matter. I apologize for three emails in a row tonight. However, my goal is to keep you all informed and ensure you know what I know. 

If you want the Cliffs Notes version (short and sweet), here it is: 

Our operation status for next week (Nov. 9-13) is the same as it was this week. 

  • Elementary - Enhanced Green (in-person instruction)

  • Secondary - Remote Learning

  • Center Avenue and Self Contained Special Education Classrooms - Enhanced Green (in-person instruction)

Tell me more!

As you have probably realized by now, my preference is to keep our schools open for in-person instruction for students who would like to learn in a traditional setting. We have gone through great lengths to open our schools this fall and we will continue to do all we can to operate safely. 

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult -- difficult, not impossible -- to do that with the increase in positive COVID-19 cases over the last seven days. The number of cases over the last seven days continues to exceed our thresholds for live instruction at the secondary level (grades 7-12). This is because we are not able to fully social distance at the Senior High School and Intermediate High School when students are physically at school. 

So what is our plan for secondary students? 

We will remain in remote instruction at the secondary level (IHS & SHS) next week (November 9-13). 

In the meantime, I plan to propose an adjustment to our Operating Status Chart at the School Board meeting on Monday, November 9. Specifically, I will ask to add Hybrid/Cohort Instruction at the secondary level for when the community spread of COVID-19 is between 41-80 cases per 100,000 people in our zip codes (more on that below). 

The goal of this schedule will be to bring half of our secondary students to school for in-person instruction at a time so that we can achieve full social distancing in most of our classrooms. When students are not at school, they would learn remotely at home. If adopted, this additional designation will be considered for the week of November 16th. 

Does this impact our elementary students? 

At this point, it does not yet impact our elementary students. They will continue to operate in Enhanced Green (in-person instruction five days a week). 

However, it’s important to note that this was the first week that we crossed the threshold to be designated as substantial. When we are in the substantial range for two consecutive weeks, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education recommend remote learning for students, which would impact all of our students. 

My secondary student will need food while he/she is learning remotely. 

We will continue to offer breakfast and lunch to all children age 18 and younger for free. If you ordered meals for your secondary student last week, you will automatically receive them again this week. Pick up is on Monday, November 9 at the Senior High School or Broad Street between 11 am and 1 pm. 

If you did not sign up last week, but would like to sign up for this week, please do so here: https://forms.gle/XaSwh7gm62usxkvw8 

Once you have signed up, you will continue to receive one week’s worth of meals at a time as long as students are learning remotely. 

** If your child (K-12) is temporarily quarantining at any point and would like to receive meals, please sign up here: https://forms.gle/Tboqd2aUEBWfVwoC8

What’s next? 

I anticipate that I will be contacted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to have a meeting either on Friday or Monday with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to discuss how the data impacts the operation of our schools.

If we remain in the substantial range for a second week, my understanding is that the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education would recommend that we move to remote instruction.  Assuming that the COVID cases continue to remain the same or increase, that recommendation could come as soon as Friday, November 13, 2020.

The good news is that the new cases have been dramatically lower for the past three days.  Hopefully, this continues and we can get back to normal. As I mentioned above, I want to be able to offer in-person instruction to our students. 

Remind me how you use data to determine the operation status of our schools. 

Our current Operating Status Chart can be found on our website: https://www.basdk12.org/Content2/1776

Each week the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education review the data and make a determination as to what category we are in. This is released weekly and can be found at: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Monitoring-Dashboard.aspx

Our current Operating Status Chart has much more detail, but simply put, here is what I’m talking about when I mention the ranges. The change I’m proposing will impact secondary students while we are in the Moderate Plus range. 

 

Level of Community Transmission

Incidence Rate per 100,000

BASD Current Mode of Operation

BASD PROPOSED Mode of Operation

Low

<10

Enhanced Green (K-12)

Enhanced Green (K-12)

Moderate

10-40

Enhanced Green (K-12)

Enhanced Green (K-12)

Moderate Plus

41-80

Enhanced Green (K-6)

Remote instruction (7-12)

Enhanced Green (K-6)

Hybrid/Cohort instruction (7-12)

81-99

Enhanced Green (K-6)

Remote instruction (7-12)

Enhanced Green (K-6)

Remote instruction (7-12)

Substantial

>100

Full remote instruction

Full remote instruction

 

 

I know this is a lot of information. I appreciate you taking the time to read it all. Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility. Stay healthy and well! 

Sincerely, 

Brian J. White, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent
Butler Area School District

 




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