Dear UCF Community,
In addition to our normal COVID-19 metrics update - I will also share updates to our Health and Safety Plan, new Chester County Health Department (CCHD) guidance, and details from our Community Conversation.
On Monday evening, the School Board approved the following changes to our Health and Safety Plan to allow for more students to attend school in person:
- Pre-First and First Grade students will be invited to full-day, in-person instruction effective March 1, 2021.
- Second Grade students will be invited to full-day, in-person instruction effective March 15, 2021.
- Middle school students identified as needing support or intervention were invited to attend in-person instruction 4 days/week starting yesterday, February 23, 2021.
- High school students identified as needing support or interventions began to attend in-person instruction five days/week effective today, February 24, 2021.
- Seniors have been invited to attend in-person instruction five days/week effective today February 24, 2021.
These changes continue to allow for 6 feet of social distancing as recommended by the Chester County Health Department.
Yesterday, we met with Dr. Sulieman to discuss her weekly analysis of the COVID-19 metrics. See the latest report here. Important key takeaways include:
- Chester County positivity rates have seen a decrease from 6.2% to 5.6%;
- Chester County has seen a weekly decrease in incidence rate per 100,000 from 128.0 to 103.4;
- Projected incidence rates per 100,000 - in the next month - show a steady decline in Chester County cases with the potential of moving from very high to high transmission rate next week;
- The UCF community had a decrease from 28 to 19;
- UCF has seen 80 cases (students and staff) this year with 14 over the past four weeks;
- A cohort of our staff that fall in 1A have been or are getting vaccinated including our nurses, counselors, psychologists, and identified special education staff - however, the rest of our staff awaits the county’s transition from 1A to 1B - we continue to vigorously lobby our state and federal legislators to get our staff vaccinated.
New CCHD Guidance
On February 19, two days after our community conversation, the Chester County Health Department released new guidance allowing school districts to reduce the physical distancing requirement to less than 6 feet for students (no less than 3 feet). They continue to recommend 6 feet of physical distance for staff (both staff to student and staff to staff). The CCHD will permit this after three consecutive weeks of a county community transmission rate of high, moderate, or low and in conjunction with continued layered mitigation measures. This week would be week #1 for us according to the guidance as numbers indicate we are currently in the high transmission rate category. Following this guidance, the earliest we would be able to implement a change would be March 15, 2021 - assuming transmission rates remain at a low enough threshold for three consecutive weeks. Of course, we will continue to follow the stringent layered mitigation measures that we have in place and have been keeping staff and students safe.
We will discuss this with the Board during the March 8 Work Session. We will present our plan and recommend a change to our Health and Safety Plan to allow for all students to return for in-person instruction every day under this new guidance. When the change occurs, students may also choose to remain remote or in the UCFVA Program.
Lastly, on February 16 we held four Community Conversations with staff and the community to discuss the changes to our instructional model that I outlined at the beginning of this message as well as potential changes should the health department change their guidance to allow for less than 6 feet of social distance. If you were unable to attend please click here to view the presentation and access the FAQ based on the question we received during the Q&A. The presentation will provide a glimpse of what changes we can expect now that the CCHD has updated its guidance to less than 6 feet.
We are entering another pivotal point in our school year. We have been anticipating the new CCHD guidance for the last month - Administration has been preparing for this - the potential change was shared with staff last week. We know there are many questions about how we will phase students back to in-person instruction. As we continue to work through the logistics with our staff, we will communicate with parents. We are confident that we can deliver a safe, in-person instructional model under these new guidelines pending Board approval. I appreciate your patience and support as we navigate this next course together.