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11/11/20 Community Update
Dear Hatboro-Horsham Staff and Families,
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) met with all Montgomery County Superintendents concerning county levels of transmission of COVID-19 to inform school leaders that Montgomery County has moved from a moderate level of community transmission (counties with more than 10, but fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents) to a substantial level of community transmission (Montgomery County rate is now at 106.9; Hatboro-Horsham School District is at 106.1). Neighboring counties Bucks, Philadelphia, and Delaware join Montgomery as some of the 38 counties in PA now in the substantial range.
This past summer, PDE and PA DOH issued guidance that established three tiers of community transmission rates that school districts should use to determine the extent to which in-person instruction should occur. The tiers (low, moderate, substantial spread) look at the county-wide incidence rate and positivity rate metrics. This data has been monitored on an on-going basis by the school district and has been posted weekly to the school district website (see HERE). The PDE Chart and its accompanying explanation can be viewed HERE.
Montgomery County’s positivity rate was reported as 5.2% which still falls in the lower end of the moderate level of community transmission. However, per this metric and guidance, if one of the two indicators is determined to be substantial, then the county is identified as having a substantial level of community transmission. We have also been monitoring school district-specific data and consulting with the county health experts to plan our programming by keeping our local data in context. For the past several weeks, our local data has been relatively close to the county numbers, but some variations exist.
Given that this is the first week Montgomery County is identified with a substantial level of transmission, PDE and PA DOH have recommended that school districts maintain the current instructional model for the week. If Montgomery County remains in a substantial level of community transmission next week, PDE will likely recommend Montgomery County schools move to fully remote instruction. If the county incidence rate next week drops below 100, and the positivity rate remains below 10, then Montgomery County will transition back to a moderate level of community transmission, however, this appears unlikely.
Both the PA DOH and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH) have the authority to order schools closed or to shift to 100% virtual. The Montco OPH is holding a Board of Health Special Meeting on Thursday 11/12. Per the Montco social media account about this meeting, “what is under consideration for the Board meeting tomorrow is 100% virtual instruction for a two-week period beginning on November 23.”
With a concerning rise in the numbers, the upcoming guidance from PDE, and the pending direction from the Montco DOH, I want to alert you to the possibility of a shift to 100% virtual so that families can start to think about alternate childcare and scheduling plans. Although there are no immediate changes to our instructional model for this week, a shift in the very near future seems likely. I will provide additional updates as they become available this week and beyond.
Wishing everyone good health. Please stay safe and be well.
Scott T. Eveslage, Ed.D.