At our Board meeting on Monday, I recommended that we transition Patton Middle School and Unionville High School back to our virtual model on November 30. Unfortunately - much has changed in the past six days - specifically:
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Policy Lab has recommended that all Philadelphia area schools close on November 16;
- Chester County COVID-19 cases and rates have increased exponentially;
- Chester County Hospital are at high-volume status;
- Montgomery County has closed schools beginning November 23;
- We are seeing 50% of our 6-12 students choosing virtual rather than attending in person;
- The UCFSD community has seen the number of incidents double in the past two weeks (from 17 to 34 - a rate of 132/100K);
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to cover staff absences.
Based on these factors and the dramatic spread of COVID-19 in our community we will transition to virtual learning for the middle school and high school on Monday, November 16. I appreciate that this announcement does not provide you with much lead time for planning - but feel compelled to act now based on the aforementioned data points. We will revert back to the virtual program that was in place for the start of the year. Mr. Conley and Mr. Dissinger will be sending emails to families and staff with additional details.
Our elementary schools will continue in their hybrid model for the time being. We are continuing with in-person instruction at our elementary schools because the conditions are much different. Specifically:
- The Chester County Health Department recommends transitioning older students to virtual first than younger students;
- According to our medical advisor - Dr. Sulieman - we are not seeing an increase in cases in younger children;
- Research is showing that younger children pose less of a risk of transmitting the virus;
- To date we have had only one confirmed case in our four elementary schools;
- Both student and staff absences have been much lower than at our secondary schools;
- Our elementary Health and Safety plan allows - to a greater degree - for small cohorting that deters in school transmission.
Our Board will discuss the status of both the elementary and secondary schools' instructional models on Monday, November 16.
We are living in a pandemic that future generations will read about. Just as we look back at global events like WWII and wonder how people survived and thrived, our experiences will be viewed with wonder and interest. Knowing that maybe we can adjust our sails again, so to speak. Let’s take this news, modify plans accordingly, and carry on. Your ability to be nimble has enabled us to focus on how to best keep students and staff safe while providing instruction. The entire UCFSD community will stand tall in the history books because we readily adapt to changing conditions.
As always, your support is greatly appreciated.