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Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope that this letter finds you and your family doing well, staying healthy, and enjoying the summer

This letter is to keep everyone informed as to the direction we are headed with regard to planning to start the 2020-2021 school year. Without question, this has been a challenging time and, while we continue to receive guidance from multiple sources, it has been an ever-changing process.  This letter provides a general  overview for how we will approach school being in session, given the information we have at this point in time. If and when conditions change, we will continue to post updates on the District website to keep everyone up to speed.

Please be aware, as we have seen in the past few months, circumstances change very quickly and everything is subject to change.  Every school district is required to Board approve and submit a Health and Safety Plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) prior to beginning the school year.  While we have drafted a plan and continue to refine the details, changes in guidelines and requirements have caused us to take caution in our approach.  We appreciate all of the support and cooperation we have received from our community, knowing that we are all working to do our best given the directives and recommendations we are asked to follow.  While the actual plan may not be approved until late July or early August, we believe it appropriate to share with parents where we are in the process and what information we need from you to help us move forward.

The plan we will be finalizing requires us to describe what school will look like and the steps we will take whether our counties are in “Yellow” or “Green” status. If we are in “Red” status, there will be no in person instruction taking place and any instruction will be performed remotely.

The big difference between Green and Yellow status is the number of days per week students will attend school in person:
  • In Green, students will attend school all days per week as indicated on the 2020-2021 school calendar.

  • In Yellow, students will be divided into two groups, with half attending in-person on Mondays and Thursday while the other students work remotely; then the other half will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays while the other students work remotely. Wednesdays would have all students working remotely, with teachers having assigned office hours for questions for students.
The issue we have run into is that while we are still in “Green” status, new mandates regarding social distancing and the wearing of masks have now required us to re-examine how in-person instruction may be possible given restrictions with spacing in classrooms and meeting state mandated requirements for face coverings.  The wearing of face coverings has been a topic of concern for many reasons, as we are aware, within the community.
At this time, the requirements for face coverings to be worn in public applies to the school setting as well.  Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, but may remove them when they are:
  • Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart;
  • Seated at desks or assigned work spaces at least 6 feet apart;
  • Engaged in any activity at least 6 feet apart
Exceptions may occur for those with special needs or medical conditions that make it unsafe for them to wear face covering, but otherwise this applies to all students in grades Pre-K to 12. It is also important to note that similarly, face coverings will be required for students for the entire duration of their bus ride to and from school, if you choose to have your child transported by the District. We are encouraging families, if you have the means, to consider transporting your children to and from school in order to regulate the number of students riding the bus.

We understand that some families may have discomfort sending their children back to school in-person,
and want to spend more time transitioning using remote instruction. This option is available for all grade
levels, as Apollo-Ridge has its own ARVA cyber academy that will coincide with the instruction given in person each day. This option is available for any family, is no added cost to the family, and allows students to be full-time Apollo-Ridge students while learning at home under the guidance of certified Apollo-Ridge faculty.  All students will have access to District-issued laptops for use and the material will be on-pace with what is going on in-person, so when the student is ready to transition back they will be right in step with their peers. Use of recorded lessons, live interaction, and a variety of resources will be included within the program. For more information on ARVA and what remote education will look like, please contact Mr. Chris Clark, Director of Special Programs, at ctclark@apolloridge.com or 724-478-6060. You may also contact your child’s building principal to learn more about the program and what may be best for you. The contacts for the building offices are below:

Apollo-Ridge High School (724) 478-6000 ext. 1001
Apollo-Ridge Middle School (724) 478-6000 ext. 2000
Apollo-Ridge Elementary School (724) 478-6000 ext. 5000

Obviously, there are a lot of challenges in planning and implementation with these plans. To be successful, we will need a terrific team effort from all stakeholders. Though the goal is still to have the option for all students to return to school every day of the school calendar, we also recognize that current restrictions may prevent that from being possible, and we need to take on the hybrid approach. We want to be very transparent in letting all families know that this is a possibility, and in any case conditions may change that require transitions between in-person and remote instruction. As we learned last spring, this can happen very quickly, and we urge our families to plan accordingly.

Finally, we are asking for input from all families to help us plan accordingly to re-start school. Based on
the update shared in this letter, we are asking all families to complete a question inventory that will be
centered around the themes below:

- Student first and last name?

- Grade level?

- Will this child be attending school in-person or will you be selecting the remote learning (ARVA)
option? (For planning purposes, we may require at least a 9-week commitment to the ARVA
program if selected in order to regulate class size)

- Will this child be riding the bus to school, or do you plan to provide transportation for him/her?

- Do you have internet service in order to complete remote instruction?

These questions will be available to complete online via a link on the District website homepage (Or by clicking here).  You will be notified through our emergency broadcast system when it is ready. If you do not have internet access, you may also respond by phone by calling your child’s school building office at the numbers listed previously.  We will ask that all families respond so that we may do our best work in planning, and all responses are submitted on or before Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

Thank you all for your support, understanding, and cooperation. This is not an easy situation for families or for schools, but together we will be successful!
Dr. Matthew Curci
Superintendent of School
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