Dear UCF Community,
Today we start our short week leading up to Thanksgiving - and while the holiday may look different for most of us this year - I know that just the sheer time away from laptops and schedules will be a welcomed break for all of us.
Today, I am updating you all with the most recent COVID-19 metrics. Over the weekend we met with Dr. Sulieman who shared with us her analysis of the new data. See her most recent report here. These are the important takeaways:
- Chester County positivity rates increased from 7.2% to 8.7%;
- Chester County has seen a weekly increase in incidence rate per 100,000 from 143.1 to 197.1;
- UCF municipalities have seen an increase in incidents from 34 to 35 ;
- Projected incidence rates per 100,000 - in the coming weeks - show Chester County cases to rise above 400;
- UCF has seen 21 cases (students and staff) this year with 12 since November 1.
We look at these metrics to provide guidance to best assess our instructional models. But we also look to recommendations from our health and education officials. Depending on where you look - there is currently a variety of contradictory recommendations from the CDC, CCHD, PA Department of Health, Governor Wolf and the PA Department of Education. While none of these sources have provided mandates for schools - there is no shortage of conflicting recommendations - including the following:
- The PA Department of Education and the PA Department of Health recommends full remote learning until the community transmission rates return to moderate;
- The Chester County Health Department supports - “Chester County Schools continuing in their current instructional model”;
- Governor Wolf was part of a group of Governors tweet last Thursday promoting in-person school as safe and best for children.
At this time, we do not have plans to modify our elementary instructional model - at least until we discuss the matter during the December 7th School Board Meeting. Our plan is to welcome elementary students and staff back from the holiday for in-person instruction on November 30. We have been fortunate that our elementary program is successful and that our mitigation efforts are keeping everyone safe. There have been very few cases in our elementary schools - all have been isolated cases and there has been no transmission within our schools. There are a few factors that would cause us to modify our elementary plan prior to Board discussion - including:
- With the new travel order announced by the PA Department of Health - we may face a situation where high numbers of students and staff will be in quarantine. We will be monitoring the situation and if we reach a tipping point of absences;
- If families or staff learn that during their family get-together they were exposed to COVID-19 - which could also lead to a large number of students and staff in quarantine;
- We experience linked transmission in our schools;
- If the COVID-19 numbers increase to the point that it is unsafe to continue with in-person instruction.
We will communicate any changes as early as possible, but for now, we stay the course while we monitor the metrics over the next couple of weeks. I encourage everyone to review the new travel order from the PA Department of Health that Mr. Nolen shared with you last week. Following this order is important to keep our staff and students safe. We appreciate your cooperation.
I am looking forward to Thanksgiving as I’m sure you are as well. As you begin to finalize your plans - please view our Celebrating Thanksgiving during COVID-19 PSA for more information on how to celebrate and enjoy the holiday safely.
Thank you again for your continued support. Have a great week!