Update #37

 
Student Pictures
 

September 10, 2020

Greetings to Pine-Richland Students, Staff, Parents and the Community,

Thank you to all for the effort and teamwork demonstrated during the start of the 2020 – 2021 school year. These first two weeks of school have provided the opportunity to establish a foundation of relationships and routines that support learning. At all grade levels and in all aspects of the hybrid model, we see inspiring examples of learning goals and learning activities in action. It is so good to see our students and staff engaged at each school.

We also want to stay proactive in our planning. This paragraph is important for everyone but especially critical for our K – 3 grade families at Hance, Richland and Wexford. Given the large percentage of K – 3 students who selected the five-day in-person instruction model, we want to ensure that we are ready for the 100% virtual contingency model if it would become necessary at the classroom, building or district level. We will test the full virtual model for K – 3 students on Friday, September 18th. All K – 3 students will stay at home for a single, practice day of virtual learning. This practice day will help ensure that students, staff and parents are familiar with the synchronous (live) and asynchronous (own time) virtual instruction approach if it were to become necessary given COVID-19 conditions or cases. Advance notice is being provided to assist families in childcare planning. We recognize the logistical challenges this practice day may present for families, however we believe the practice will build confidence and reduce anxiety if a transition to virtual learning becomes necessary. This virtual practice day is NOT needed for grades 4 – 12 since all students experience the virtual learning model every other day. A separate communication will be sent to students in grades 4 – 12 who are receiving five-day in-person instruction with Tier III supports.

Continuum

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions in the county and cases in the district. As reviewed in several of the podcasts, conditions reflect the degree of virus in the community based on two measures: (1) confirmed cases per 100,000 and (2) positivity rate percentage of tests. These two “lagging measures” are reflected in the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. Public health officials are closely monitoring any changes to conditions based on the increased socialization tied to public schools, colleges/universities and even Labor Day activities. We also monitor information related to student and staff cases. If a confirmed case requires quarantine for students, a class or a school, the district would work directly with the Allegheny County Health Department and communicate specifically to affected families. Please remember that quarantine is used for healthy people as a strategy to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

As a reminder of critical procedures, please review the following:

  • At Home Procedures Each of us – students, staff and parents – have new procedures at home and school. The success of the hybrid model begins with people staying at home if symptoms emerge. If a student has symptoms and needs to stay at home, he or she will still be able to log-in to class and participate through the use of technology.
  • At School ProceduresIt is really important to know that we will have asymptomatic students and staff in our schools. The reality of COVID-19 is that some people – especially students – may not show symptoms. The PRSD Hybrid Model is designed to ensure physical distancing. When we add face coverings and handwashing discipline, we are creating a situation where we protect ourselves and each other. This level of discipline and awareness is so tough…but so important. Discipline with the “Big 3” will help us stay in school. We need to each remind ourselves and remind each other.

  • CDC Mask Recommendations – We deeply appreciate the cooperation and compliance with the face-covering mandates in Pennsylvania and our schools. As shared in the past, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has a broad definition of face coverings that include face shields and other types of covering. Per the CDC and reinforced by the PRSD Healthcare Leadership Council experts, we do encourage all students and staff to consider the recommendations for masks outlined at this site.

  • Quarantine vs. IsolationThe time will come this year when students or staff are required to quarantine for a period of 14 days or more. Please remember that “quarantine” is guided by the Allegheny County Health Department and is used as a precaution for healthy people. Isolation is required for people who are confirmed positive for COVID-19. Most important, our disciplined attention to the “Big 3” in our PRSD Hybrid Model should significantly reduce the need to quarantine when positive cases emerge. 

Key Strategic Initiatives
We also want to provide a brief reminder about the most important initiatives for 2020 – 2021 identified from the Pine-Richland Strategic Plan. More information about each topic will be shared throughout the year. Key initiatives include:

  •  COVID-19: Program Flexibility (Hybrid and Virtual Options)
  • Safety, Security and Culture (Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Schools; Social Justice; Public Health; and Security)
  • In-Depth Program Review (Art, World Language and Special Education) and Implementation (Most Depts.)
  • Budget Awareness and Future-Focused Financial Planning
  • Redistricting Model and Transition
  • Student Information System / Financial Information System Implementation

 Thank you for your continued support and teamwork.

Respectfully,
Brian R. Miller, Ed.D.
Superintendent