8/14 Message from Dr. Gerhard – Secondary Hybrid Option

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton August 14, 2020 15:26

Hello Governor Mifflin families,

I would like to provide an update on our progress as we work to reopen school on Monday, August 31. I thank you for your feedback and participation in our registration process. The information we now have from our families is guiding our continued preparations to be able to accommodate our in-person and enhanced online options for the 2020-2021 school year. Please review below for additional updates and action items.

Monday, the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education released some additional guidance for schools to use as recommendations in the planning for school in the fall. These recommendations have been helpful in establishing some metric guidance to use in assessing our local conditions and the plans we have in place. We continue to review our district’s reopening plan against both external and internal conditions. This new information the state has presented to us describes various methods of transmission and the recommended, not mandated, response by schools. As of the time of this message and using the new state guidance, Berks County falls within the “Moderate” category. 

It is important to note that even with the release of this new information, the state Department of Health and Department of Education are still providing local districts the ability to make our decisions based upon both the new guidance and the needs and context of our local community. To that end, we have used this week to review these recommendations against the strength of our Health and Safety Plan. Thanks to your rapid response in selecting from our in-person or enhanced online options, here are key factors we now know:

  • Based upon class sizes and those opting for our enhanced online program, we believe that our elementary school program (K-6) will be able to accommodate a six-foot distance during in-person instruction in our classrooms five days per week. (No change to our original plan.) 
  • We know that in our secondary classrooms (7-12) realistically, the distance between student desks and space still ranges between three to six feet during full-day, in-person instruction. 

With this in mind, we have constructed a hybrid option for our Middle School and High School that provides for all students to be in school every day. This option would follow a half-day schedule establishing morning and afternoon sessions with students assigned to one of those sessions. By developing this hybrid option we will be able to:

  • Significantly reduce the number of 7-12 students in our buildings and classrooms at any one time.
  • Utilize a model that allows every student to be in school and interact with teachers face-to-face daily.
  • Provide online content for the half of the day students are not in school.
  • Offer an undisrupted schedule and transportation for BCTC students.
  • Return to a full in-person model should local COVID-19 data fall into the range of “Low.” 

Please watch this video presentation by Dr. Gerhard for additional details regarding how this hybrid schedule would look for students. 

While we are sharing this information with all of our GMSD families, we have asked our secondary families to provide us with quick feedback on the hybrid model of learning. We will use their input to make a final decision for our students in grades 7-12 in the coming days. We will also soon be providing additional details for those who have opted for the enhanced online learning program. We also remind you to please log in to your Skyward account beginning Friday, August 21 to complete the online back-to-school update. I again thank you for your support and cooperation during this time. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Steve Gerhard
Superintendent
Governor Mifflin School District

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton August 14, 2020 15:26