The superintendent of the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation sent out an update Tuesday on the district's plan for returning to school, and it includes giving parents the option to choose either face-to-face or virtual instruction.
From P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker:
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
I hope you are enjoying the weather and a restful summer with your families, especially after the spring we had.
We know that P-H-M’s plan for returning to school in the fall is top of mind for all our families, and today I want to provide an update on our progress.
Within the week, we project that we will be able to share Penn-Harris-Madison’s district plans outlining our Face to Face and Virtual instruction options. To help us plan for the Fall, we will also be asking parents who want the virtual option to complete a survey by a deadline
Last week, I met with my fellow Superintendents from the other St. Joseph County school districts: South Bend, Mishawaka, and John Glenn. The purpose was to collaborate and agree on norms that we will all use as we finalize our individual district re-entry plans to share with our families.
Right now, we recognize that as the public school corporations in St. Joseph County, we must all abide by the same health safety requirements, precautions, and guidelines in order to help keep our students, staff and the greater community safe. We are affirming that all four St. Joseph County public schools will start on their scheduled start date previously communicated to families:
• First day for Penn-Harris-Madison is still Wednesday, August 19 (gr. 1-12), and the first day for kindergarten will be Thursday, August 20
• School will be in session five days per week, Monday-Friday
• The published 2020-2021 school calendar will be followed. Click here to view.
To conduct Face-to-Face instruction, certain safety measures must be in place to protect everyone’s safety. P-H-M joined with South Bend Community School Corp., School City of Mishawaka, and John Glenn School Corp. to work with St. Joseph County Health Department to develop the expectations outlined below for students and employees to follow when school starts in the fall:
• Per the St. Joseph County Health Department Public Health Order, staff and students are required to have a mask (face covering) with them at all times. There will be times indoors or in enclosed spaces that 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.
• Students and staff will be required to be fever free for 72 hours without use of fever reducing medication before returning to school.
• To maintain safe social distancing, lunch times will be staggered and available open space will be maximized.
• Restrict visitors and guests in our school buildings.
• Maximize instructional space and scheduling flexibility.
• Employee enhanced cleaning procedures with additional hand sanitizer stations.
• Identify and separate space in school clinics to treat symptomatic students.
• Discontinuation of perfect attendance incentives for the 2020-21 school year.
In addition to these jointly agreed upon procedures, this is specifically what P-H-M will be doing:
• Safety protocols and procedures
o PHM will provide all students and employees with two (2) reusable masks (face covering).
o Individualized school plans (which will be shared by early August) will ensure that social distancing can be maintained whenever possible
o Arrival/Dismissal will be staggered with multiple entry points being utilized to reduce congestion
o Breakfast/Lunch will be pre-packaged
o Restroom breaks will be scheduled
o All spaces will be sanitized frequently with enhanced cleaning procedures
o Allow the use of a water fountain for bottle or cup refills only
• Safety considerations of physical spaces
o Classrooms will be reorganized to maximize available space
o Sharing instructional materials will be limited
o Larger spaces will be repurposed to accommodate social distancing as often as possible
• Student educational opportunities that remediate, accelerate, and enrich learning
o Teachers will formatively assess students to diagnose lost learning while also focusing on grade level content to advance students academically.
o Teachers will monitor student progress and adjust supports as needed in order for appropriate academic growth.
In addition, we also want our families to know that we intend to offer Kids Club (before and after school) this fall. The same safeguards will be put into place at Kids Club as are done during the regular school day.
As we stated earlier, this week we hope to share with you the outline of the district’s Face-to-Face and the Virtual instruction models so that you can choose the option you want for your student(s). We will be asking parents to declare your intent for your student(s) return to Face-to-Face instruction or the Virtual option. To help us plan for the fall, there will be a deadline and commitment for the survey. Specific detailed information about the safety protocols and procedures that will be in place at your student(s) school will come from your principal(s) in early August.
We thank you for your continued support and patience as we work to provide the best for your children, in education and safety.
Stay healthy and well,
Dr. Jerry Thacker, Superintendent
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation