09/25/20 Community Update
Dear Hatboro-Horsham Families,
Our start to the school year certainly has been unusual. We have heard your feedback on both the difficulties and highlights of remote instruction. Highlights have included the efforts and creativity of teachers in engaging students, working through technical challenges, and building relationships and classroom community despite the virtual challenges. Difficulties have included the unique challenges of engaging our youngest learners virtually, the extended screen time for all, and the additional burden on parents, guardians, and caregivers who are balancing their support of students with their own employment responsibilities. I extend my deepest thanks to all of you for making sacrifices to work with us through this remote-learning phase. Through this, I am proud of the resiliency of our students, the support of our families, and the incredible efforts of our staff.
We know that remote learning is not an ideal instructional model for all students. That is why I want to share with you an update on the progress of our ongoing plans to return students to in-person instruction. While the District approved remote learning through the first quarter of the school year, November 11, 2020, we are actively looking into returning some students earlier. We have prioritized our youngest learners as those who are most in-need of in-person learning. Details of these plans will be presented at our October 5 School Board meeting. Please note that all our planning includes an option for families and students to continue accessing their learning remotely. This has been a pledge throughout the process and will remain through the pandemic.
Next week, families will receive a mandatory survey that will require your attention. It will be used to gather student-specific information about your family’s choice for an instructional model for your child. We will seek to provide you with information to make an informed decision regarding options.
Looking ahead, we continue to monitor public-health data and consult with public-health officials. Our reopening metrics have been tracked and updated weekly on the website available HERE. These metrics are being used to inform, not determine, recommendations about instructional models. The data is trending positively and increasing confidence in a safe return. Encouraging trends include a decline in the Montgomery County positivity rate for the second straight week to as low as 2.3%. An area of improvement that we target is seeing our own community’s incidence rates decline and remain below the county average, although the trends suggest that this target will be soon attainable.
All plans for return will be assessed within the context of our public-health data. Therefore, we all must be socially disciplined in order to continue these encouraging trends. We feel that our mitigation strategies (physical distancing, mask-wearing, hygiene, symptom monitoring, and sick policies) detailed in our Health and Safety plan will enable us to take the next step in the safe return to in-person instruction in some capacity, so long as there is not a rapid resurgence in our area.
Other reminders and updates:
- Calendar: Reminder that all District schools and offices will be closed on Monday, 9/28/20 for Yom Kippur.
- Food Service: The Hatboro-Horsham School District provides free breakfast and lunch to all school-aged members of the Hatboro-Horsham Community (ages 0-18 years old). HHSD enrolled students over the age of 18 may also take part. Click HERE for more Food Service details.
- Social and Emotional Well-Being: We know that students and families are all coping with the uncertainties of COVID-19. These can cause emotions of fear, anxiety, stress, and more. While we navigate these uncertain times there are resources to help students and families cope with their emotional needs on the HHSD Social and Emotional Well-Being webpage available HERE. Additional resources can be found in our September SAP Newsletter available HERE. If your child is struggling, please contact your child’s teacher or guidance counselor for ideas and supports.
- Tech Support: Students and families with technology issues can contact our technical support help desk by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, through the web at https://hhsd.sherpadesk.com, or by phone 215-420-5600. Our technology staff take calls from 7:30-3:30, Monday through Friday, and will respond to support requests made at other times during those hours. Many technical issues can be resolved simply by powering down and restarting your device so please try this before reaching out to our technology team for support.
- Immunizations: The state requirements for immunizations for the 2020-21 school year remain in place with an extended deadline of 11/8/2020. By law, students who do not secure their immunizations by 11/8 will be excluded from school at that point. Also, flu shots for this season are highly recommended. More information can be found HERE.
I am sure that many of you join me in longing for the days when school can resume its sense of normalcy. As we move toward that, I truly hope that we can commit to working together as a community to support our students and keep one another safe.
Scott Eveslage, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools