A Message from the Superintendent -- December 2, 2020

message from the superintendent

December 2, 2020

Dear Butler Area School District Community:

Last week Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine updated their guidance for schools.  One component of the updated guidance was issuing parameters for schools to operate when the county COVID-19 community spread level is substantial.  They have issued charts that guide the operating status of each school based on the number of active COVID-19 cases among students and employees actively attending and working at each school.

Watch a short video summary of this message

Key Points

Based on this guidance for schools and the stipulations in the attestation document, we are preparing to reopen in the following manner -- as long as we have the staffing to do so and we fit within the COVID-19 data parameters delineated on the charts issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education below: 

  • Elementary - Enhanced Green -- Live in-person instruction for all students beginning on Thursday, December 10,  2020. 

  • Secondary - Hybrid - COHORT -- Live in-person instruction for ½ students in cohorts beginning on Monday, December 14, 2020.  (Secondary self-contained special education classrooms will attend 5 days per week.)

  • Center Avenue Community School -- Live in-person instruction for all students beginning on Thursday, December 10, 2020.

  • Special Education Specialized Classrooms -- Continue live in-person instruction for all students.

Secondary students will receive communication directly from their principal designating which COHORT they are assigned to and the COHORT schedule.

We will be reopening the window to change learning pathways for all students K-12. More details regarding our cyber program can be found later in this document.

Details 

As I previously mentioned, these charts were released/revised by PDE. Schools must adhere to the guidance regarding active cases provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This provides guidance on the operational status based on both the community transmission level and the number of active cases attributed to students and employees assigned to a specific school.  

Up until now, we have always determined our mode of operation as a district by grade level, with the exception of our self-contained special education classrooms and Center Avenue classrooms. When our elementary students went remote, all six of our K-4 elementary schools followed the same path. 

Unlike the blanket community based recommendations, this new guidance is school specific. This means at any given time, we could have some schools operating remotely while others are able to operate in person. For example, it’s possible that some of our K-4 elementary schools may be able to remain open while other K-4 schools (including self-contained special education classrooms) must operate remotely. 

I also want to make you aware that we may have to shift our mode of operation at a building quickly without advance notice. It will only take two (2) positive COVID-19 cases among our students and staff at our smaller elementary schools to force the building into remote learning. If we were to be notified of a positive COVID-19 case at one of our smaller schools late in the afternoon, we will have to pivot quickly and temporarily move to remote instruction immediately for the next instructional day. 

COVID Communication

As you know, we had been sending a notification every time a member of our school community (faculty, staff or student) was diagnosed with COVID-19. Moving forward, we are going to update a COVID-19 Dashboard that will show the number of active positive COVID-19 cases among our faculty, staff and students at each school. The COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated daily, as we receive information. We will no longer send a message every time we are notified of a positive COVID-19 case. 

The COVID-19 Dashboard can be found here: https://www.basdk12.org/Content2/1832 

We have also added a “COVID-19 Dashboard” link to the front page of our website.

Please continue to self-report to the school principal or school nurse if your child is diagnosed with COVID-19 or if your child is required to isolate due to potential exposure. Thank you for your help with this. 

Charts from PDE

More details can be found on these charts below. 

For Small (<500 Students) Pre-K to 12 School Buildings Following Identification of a Case(s) of COVID-19.

This would include Center Avenue Community School, Connoquenessing Elementary School, Emily Brittain Elementary School, McQuistion Elementary School, Northwest Elementary School and Summit Elementary School.

Level of Community Transmission in the County

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

1 student or 1 staff

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

2-4 students/staff in same school building who are not household contacts

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

5+ students/staff in same school building

Low

  • School does not need to close

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 3-5 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school(s)

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

Moderate

  • School does not need to close

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 3-7 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school(s)

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

Substantial†

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Close school(s) for 3-7 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

 

Medium (500-900 students) Pre-K to 12 School Buildings Following Identification of a Case(s) of COVID-19

This includes Center Township Elementary School.

Level of Community Transmission in the County

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

1-3 students or staff

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

4-6 students/staff in same school building who are not household contacts

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

7+ students/staff in same school building

Low

  • School does not need to close

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 3-5 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school(s)

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

Moderate

  • School does not need to close

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 3-7 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school(s)

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

Substantial†

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Close school(s) for 3-7 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

 

Large (>900 students) Pre-K to 12 School Buildings Following Identification of a Case(s) of COVID-19

This includes the Middle School, Intermediate High School and the Senior High School.

Level of Community Transmission in the County

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

1-5 students or staff

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

6-10 students/staff in same school building who are not household contacts

Number of Cases of COVID-19 Within a rolling 14-day period:

 

11+ students/staff in same school building

Low

  • School does not need to close

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 3-5 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school(s)

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

Moderate

  • School does not need to close

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 3-7 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school(s)

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

Substantial†

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Clean area(s) where case spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Close school(s) for 3-7 days*

  • Clean area(s) where cases spent time

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

  • School should consider altering schedule to significantly decrease number of students on site

  • Close school(s) for 14 days*

  • Clean entire school

  • Public health staff will direct close contacts to quarantine

 

 

BASD Cyber Learning Program

All of our students have the opportunity to participate in our Cyber Learning Program at any time. Our Cyber Learning Program is a full-time, completely free option for all Butler Area School District students in grades K-12. Students will have the opportunity to learn remotely without ever having to attend school in person. The Cyber Learning Program will provide students with the same high quality, innovative instruction they are used to receiving in the traditional classroom with the added flexibility of home-based schooling. https://www.basdk12.org/Content/clp 

As we anticipate transitioning back to in-person instruction, we understand that some families might be apprehensive about sending their child back into the building. Every family has the ability to determine whether in person instruction or remote learning is the right fit for their child. 

Elementary Cyber Learning Program 

To help you make the best decision for your family, we want you to be aware of the ways our cyber learning program is different from remote distance learning that has been occurring at the elementary level. The biggest difference is that our cyber learning program has more of a mix of synchronous( live)  and asynchronous( recorded) sessions.  In the cyber program, students are required to watch a pre-recorded video prior to participating in a live session with their teacher. The pre-recorded sessions lay the foundation for the learning that will occur during the live session. During the live session, teachers quickly assess the students' understanding of the material presented in the video as well as go over any assignments given to them so that they can provide feedback or reteach material, if necessary. Teachers then move on to instruction that requires more interaction between the teacher and their classmates.  

Another difference is that your child will have more independent activities that they will need to complete to show their understanding of the learning taking place. While in remote distance learning, many students were on live sessions for extended periods of time with their teacher. Some of that time included students working on independent activities, even though they were still in the Google Meet with their classmates and teacher. In our cyber learning program, students need to be more independent and have a learning coach at home who will help provide the structure and assistance students need when they are not on a Google Meet with their teacher.    

We are proud of the cyber learning program that we offer.  It gives parents some flexibility with the time their students will be on live Google Meets with their teacher, but also offers rigorous learning activities that students complete independently or with the assistance of the learning coach helping them at home.  

Secondary Cyber Learning Program

As you know, we offered four Learning Pathways to our secondary students this year. 

  1. Traditional School Model where students attended school in person full time (5 days a week). 

  2. Hybrid School Model where students attended some classes in person at school and other classes remotely at home. 

  3. Flexible Traditional School where students attended school in person two days a week and learned remotely at home three days a week. 

  4. Online/Cyber School Model where students learn remotely. In this model, they are never required to attend school in person. Lessons may be both synchronous or asynchronous. 

While we are operating in our COHORT Model at the secondary level, all students who are enrolled in the Traditional School Model, Hybrid School Model and Flexible Traditional School model will be assigned a COHORT schedule. 

  1. Traditional School Model -- Students will report to school for in-person instruction according to their COHORT schedule. On days they are not in school, they will learn remotely at home. If you were attending school 5 days a week prior to our move to remote instruction and take no action you will be enrolled in this pathway.

  2. Hybrid School Model -- Students will be assigned to a COHORT. On days when their COHORT is learning in-person at school, they will be able to come to school for whatever classes they have elected to take in person. On days when they are learning remotely at home, they will take all of their classes remotely. 

  3. Flexible Traditional School Model -- Students will not follow their Flexible Traditional School schedule while we are operating COHORTS. They will be assigned to a COHORT and follow that schedule. On days when they are not in school, they will learn remotely at home. 

  4. Online/Cyber School Model -- Students who are enrolled in this Learning Pathway will continue to learn remotely at home five days a week. 

  5. Remote Instruction -- Students may choose to continue with remote instruction/livestreaming while the COHORT model is operating.

Making a Change to Your Child’s Learning Pathway

If you do not request a change, your child will continue in the Learning Pathway in which he or she was enrolled prior to our district-wide remote learning.

If you would like to make a change to your child’s Learning Pathway, you can do so by completing our transition form (links below). 

Transition form for grades K-4 

Transition form for grades 5-6

Transition form for grades 7-9

Transition form for grades 10-12


You made it!

Thank you for sticking with me until the very end of this message. I know this is a lot of information. I hope you will find it useful as we continue to navigate this year together. 

Sincerely, 


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





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