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8/12/21 Community Update
August 12, 2021
Dear HHSD Families:
In the early summer, the COVID-19 cases were plummeting and the outlook for the fall was promising. We all know that we are unfortunately in a different place now than we had hoped. Montgomery County is seeing a rapid increase in cases, and we have sadly once again reached the Substantial range of community transmission in both the county and our local municipality. The Delta variant has significantly impacted the current situation and our planned school response. As research on the highly contagious variant continues, guidance from the CDC, the PA Department of Health (PADOH), and Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) adjusts accordingly. We cannot view this guidance as static. As we have in the past, we will adapt practices and adhere to the guidance that will prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff.
In July, the Board of School Directors approved the District’s Health and Safety Plan for the 2021-22 school year. It can be found HERE. The plan acknowledges the fluidity of the situation and grants the administration some flexibility to adapt our health and safety measures to align with the MCOPH guidance. We consult regularly with public health officials from the MCOPH on school guidance and protocols.
The guidance reinforces the importance and value of in-person instruction while emphasizing the need for several mitigation strategies. We are planning to operate a five days/week in-person program with several health and safety measures in place.
Effective immediately, the Hatboro-Horsham School District is taking the following health and safety measures:
- Masking. We will resume universal masking indoors for all students, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This mitigation strategy is supported by the AAP, MCOPH, and CDC. We understand that many had hoped that masks would no longer be needed in schools, but the rise in prevalence of the Delta variant, and the fact that students under age 12 are unable to be vaccinated, make it necessary to return to masking. Having students masked will also limit the number of students who must quarantine and miss school, should they be identified as a close contact of an infected individual. Taking this step will enable us to continue as safely as possible toward our primary goal of offering in-person education.
- Vaccination. Vaccination remains the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly encourage all eligible people to get the vaccine.
- Vaccination Clinic: The District will be hosting a free vaccination clinic with Eric’s Pharmacy in Horsham for all interested and eligible students (ages 12 and older), staff, or community members (all are welcome) at Hallowell Elementary school’s gymnasium at the times and dates below. Pre-registration is suggested but not required. Details and registration can be found HERE.
- Saturday, 8/21 @10:00am – 12:00 pm for 1st Doses
- Saturday, 9/11 @10:00am – 12:00 pm for 2nd Doses
- Staff Vaccination and Assurance Testing: All staff are submitting proof of their vaccination status to the District. Employees who are not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly with a rapid antigen test. We are also offering weekly assurance testing for all staff.
- Student Vaccination Status: Some isolation and quarantine requirements in public health code are dependent on the individual’s COVID vaccination status. Knowing this information is helpful as we prepare to conduct contact tracing. Submission of your student’s vaccination status is not required, though having a record of vaccination will help our nursing staff work with the County contact tracing team to determine the appropriate response when there is a positive case, per the County’s exclusion guide. As is the practice with all student immunization records, Health Services will keep the information confidential. Soon we will send a form to families via a separate communication to consider voluntarily submitting this information.
- Additional safety measures around gatherings, cleaning, hand sanitizing, and ventilation will be in effect. With most students returning to an in-person program, physical distancing will be at a 3-foot distance to the extent practicable. Distancing on buses will be impacted by ridership but will include students sharing seats. Masking and open windows on the bus will be in effect. In addition to the details in the District’s Health and Safety Plan, some building procedures and protocols will be modified for safety purposes.
- Virtual Program Option: We recently contacted families who expressed an intention in June to participate in virtual schooling this fall. For any families interested in reviewing the details of our 2021-22 virtual programs for students in grades 1-12, they can be reviewed HERE.
Some additional resources:
- CDC guidance can be found HERE.
- Montco Office of Public Health guidance can be found HERE and the exclusion guide can be found HERE
- Montgomery County COVIID-19 Data Hub can be found HERE
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidance can be found HERE
We look forward to welcoming our students back to school in September. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation in working with us to prioritize a safe and healthy return.
Scott Eveslage, Ed.D.