Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Reopening School & COVID 19

Bear Creek Community Charter School's Plan

The health, safety, and well-being of our students and our staff is our highest priority. Everyone wants life to return to normal, including our school environment. That being said, we are faced with not only an extraordinary public health crisis, but also a great deal of uncertainty. That uncertainty, coupled with little scientific data available and a great deal of differing opinions, makes the process of reopening school extremely complicated. To further complicate matters, we need to consider a host of ancillary issues as well as guidance that is frequently changing and can also conflict with existing state and federal law. Decision-making must consider the following factors, just to name a few:

  • The changing environment related to the COVID-19 virus, including increases and decreases in infection rates.
  • Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
  • Guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
  • Logistics associated with prevention and mitigation strategies such as social distancing, wearing masks, personal hygiene, student/staff illness, etc.
  • Concerns and personal beliefs of parents, which may vary significantly.
  • Home life situations such as parents working, lack of internet access, lack of access to technology.
  • Requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • Requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Requirements of Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Transportation logistics of ten different local school districts.

Bear Creek Community Charter School is working to develop a plan that will allow for in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible, based on current circumstances. Because of developmental concerns relating to primary-aged children, our goal is to provide as much continuity for in-person instruction as possible for students in Kindergarten through Fourth Grade. Bear Creek Community Charter School will place a greater emphasis on integrating technology into the educational process in all grades. Due to physical space limitations resulting from social distancing requirements, students in Grade 5 through Grades 8 may be exposed to a hybrid-learning environment, to include a combination of in-person instruction and distance learning.

Other aspects of school operations are also being evaluated such as movement of students and staff within the building, use of outdoor areas, serving of breakfast and lunch, school health services, etc. Every aspect of regular school operations will be reviewed to determine what changes need to be made to comply with state and federal requirements associated with COVID 19, all in an effort to keep students and staff healthy and safe.

The first day of school for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year is Tuesday, September 8th. A great deal may change over the next thirty to sixty days, including infection rates, state and federal guidance, as well as local district transportation plans. We will be incorporating the latest information into our plan, with the expectation that we would be able to release the plan to our parents and other stakeholders on or around August 15, 2020. Realize this is an evolving situation, much of which is outside of our control - and nothing is set in stone.

In addition to compiling a plan to reopen school, we must also develop a plan for the continuity of education in the event the pandemic worsens locally, and we are forced to move into a more restrictive phase of operations – similar to what we experienced during the fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year.

Interscholastic Soccer – Fall 2020

The COVID-19 global pandemic is impacting schools and communities across our country and across the globe, and is presenting a myriad of challenges. While it is not possible to eliminate all risk of furthering the spread of COVID-19, current medical guidance suggests there are steps schools can take to reduce the risks to students, coaches, and their families when participating in extra-curricular activities. Bear Creek Community Charter School's Interscholastic Soccer Resocialization Plan for Fall 2020 contains standards and guidelines for resuming Bear Creek Community Charter School's participation in the interscholastic soccer program through the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and is based on guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Participating in interscholastic athletics is a privilege, and it is of the utmost importance that athletes work with coaches and staff to help adhere to the following safety guidelines. Doing so is a responsibility of participating in interscholastic athletics, both in and out of season. Failure to adhere to the safety guidelines may jeopardize an athlete’s ability to participate.

Pennsylvania Department of Education

On July 2, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Education provided Pennsylvania’s public schools a Roadmap for Educational Leaders, identifying six key processes essential for ensuring systems and policies are flexible and responsive to the needs of students and school communities particularly in the rapidly changing environment of the pandemic. Systemic inequities have exacerbated gaps in academic development, social and emotional wellbeing, and other outcomes among some of our most vulnerable students. In many cases, these gaps will persist and have lasting detrimental effects well into adulthood. As this framework is populated with additional resources, it will support school administrators in:

  • Establishing a culture of collective responsibility for the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of all students (especially students who are economically disadvantaged, students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and other vulnerable populations);
  • Prioritizing effective instructional practice, including strong standards-based instruction, data- based planning, differentiation, and individualization;
  • Maintaining a positive climate conducive to teaching and learning that supports social and emotional development and health and wellness; and
  • Creating and supporting high levels of learning for all students through high-quality, embedded professional learning opportunities for school leaders, educators, and support staff.

On June 24, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Education built upon existing school reopening guidance by releasing Considerations for Reopening Pennsylvania’s Schools, prepared in partnership with the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic at Mathematica, one of the nation’s foremost social policy research firms. This report summarizes existing research on COVID-19 and generates a Pennsylvania-specific body of research - both qualitative and quantitative - that can inform decision making around completion of local health and safety plans, preparations for resumption of in-person teaching and learning, and development of supports for student and staff wellness.

On June 10, 2020 the Governor’s Office and Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) issued Preliminary School Sports' Guidance for schools. This information will allow each school to resume voluntary sports’ related activities and to develop their own Athletics, Health and Safety Plan. The guidance stipulates each school in Yellow and Green phase counties is to have a RTP plan in place to ensure that all sport teams and organizations conduct their operations in the manner best designed to prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of the athletes and the communities they serve. Any sporting activities in Yellow or Green phased counties must adhere to the gathering limitations set forth by the Governor's Plan for Phased Reopening (maximum of 25 people in the Yellow phase; no more than 250 people or 50 percent of the facility’s total occupancy, whichever is less, in the Green Phase). All activities must still be in accordance with PIAA out-of season rules and regulations.

On June 3, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released Preliminary Guidance Phased Reopening of Pre-K to 12 Schools, which was made available to aid in planning for a return to in-person instruction, delivery of services, and resumption of extracurricular activities – including those provided within schools by external organizations. This guidance serves as a starting point for school leaders to consider in their preparations for the upcoming year, and applies to school districts, charter schools, regional charter schools, cyber charter schools, career and technical centers, and intermediate units. This guidance will continue to evolve as further research, data, and resources become available. Additional guidance is forthcoming and will outline steps for school openings while addressing safe operations, teaching and learning, and student wellness with attention to equity throughout.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

As some communities in the United States open K-12 schools, CDC offers considerations for ways in which schools can help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19. Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community. After reviewing the considerations listed on CDC’s web site, school administrators can use CDC’s K-12 Schools Readiness and Planning Tool to protect students, staff and communities.

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Information is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health including signs and symptoms of COVID 19, recommendations to stop the spread, data on infections and deaths, testing information, and information in multiple languages.

Frequently Asked Questions for Bear Creek Community Charter School Families

This section of our web site will pose questions frequently asked by parents and other stakeholders, and will provide answers or other resources that we hope our parents and staff find useful. This information will be updated frequently.

How and Where Can I Get Tested for COVID 19? - If you feel you or your child has been exposed to COVID 19 or are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, you should contact your primary care physician for guidance. They are in the best position to determine the next course of action. Do not send your child to daycare or school until they have visited a physician. There are a handful of resources within the community that support COVID 19 testing, but many require a physician referral and/or a schedule appointment.

Geisinger Medical Center South Wilkes-Barre
Call (570) 284-3657

Rite Aid Pharmacy – Plains Township
Call (570) 824-7242