July 17, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, Students, and Community Members,
As we prepare for students to return to school this August, we all face many challenges which have been presented due to the introduction of CoVID19. It is clear that not all people have the same opinions of the severity of the virus, and its possible effects upon our students and community. However, we realize that due to our current situation, our return to school will look different than it does under normal conditions. As presented last evening at our July Board Meeting, Union School District’s main goal is to provide quality educational services in a manner which is as close to our normal mode of operation as possible, without sacrificing the safety of our students. We plan to follow all mandates, laws, and regulations put upon us as an educationa entity, by our governing institutions. We do not however, plan to impose additional restrictions upon our students and community as we work with students and families to provide the best educational services possible through all allowable means.
Our board of directors approved the initial version of our “Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan” which is now posted on the Union School District Website. I realize that the plan may not answer all questions related to how reopening the school may look in August and that it is likely to change several times before our first day of instruction, as new guidance and regulations are presented by our governing agencies. It is meant to be a flexible plan which is able to be adapted to the current conditions at the time in which we reopen for the school year.
Some key questions as well:
- Will students need to wear masks in school?
- As per order of the governor and secretary of health, students are to wear masks when riding district transportation, during transitions in hallways, and when social distancing is not possible.
- Will students attend school every day, on a rotation, or be instructed in the home?
- Since Clarion County is currently in the Green Phase, we plan to provide student instruction in our school buildings for all students. If the state moves to a different phase, this is likely to change.
- What if my child has medical issues which are of concern?
- Please contact either the high school or elementary office to schedule an appointment with your child’s principal to work on an individualized plan to meet your child’s needs
- If I am concerned about my child’s health due to attending school with other children, may he/she participate in classes remotely?
- USD is currently purchasing equipment through the CARES Grant to allow teachers to stream their lessons to students who must receive instruction within the home. This mode of delivery is preferred to cyber programming, as we have personal contact with you and your child and they still are able to interact with their classmates.
- What will the school do if they have a confirmed case of CoVID19?
- In following best practices, the school district will consult with the Department of Health in making decisions for the school. Current guidance is for closure of areas in which that individual attended to provide sufficient time for sanitation as well as contact tracing and notification of individuals who have been exposed (defined as exposure of 15 minutes or longer at a distance less than 6 feet).
- If my child exhibits symptoms of CoVID19, will they be able to return to school?
- As per guidance from the CDC, students and staff who exhibit symptoms of CoVID19 will need to quarantine/not report to school/work for a period of 10 school days or until released by a physician.
- Will my child be provided transportation services as they have in the past?
- We currently plan to run our buses and vans as we have in the past (in the Green Phase), although students will be mandated as per the order of the governor, to wear a face covering while in transport. I understand that some parents may not agree with this order, however it comes from our governing agencies and therefore must be followed by the school district (not a local decision).
- If I choose to sign my child into cyber education rather than using district educational services, how does this impact the district and my community?
- Choosing to utilize cyber educational services harms your local school district as well as
community as the district which is funded through federal, state, and local taxes (property and occupational taxes, etc.) must pay approximately $18,000 per student and $36,000 for each child with an individual education plan. These are funds which are necessary to continue to operate your local school system. Rising costs due to increased cyber enrollment often results in the need to raise local taxes to meet financial obligations.
It is my hope that you are all able to enjoy the remainder of the summer and students are ready to
return to school on August 26 th . Union School District wishes to provide your child with the best educational services within the boundaries of the law while also keeping your child’s experience as close to normal as we can. With your help and support, we hope to make the 2020-2021 school year a positive and productive experience for all. Thank you for your support and partnership with our district as we must work together as
a cohesive community as we return to school.
John Kimmel, Supt.
Union School District