July 17 Parent Webinar Recap
On July 17, Dr. T.J. Locke hosted a webinar for parents regarding EA's reopening planning. During the webinar, Dr. Locke provided some additional details related to the updates he shared in his July 10 email message. Below is a recap of what was shared during the webinar.

Campus Status

We continue to limit access to campus. We have been hosting socially-distanced workout sessions for student athletes, which have been going well and have helped us in thinking through implementation of our planned health and safety protocols if we do return to in-person instruction in the fall. Our facilities and operations teams have been working to prepare many of our spaces to meet our new protocols (more details below).

We know many students still have personal belongings on campus. We plan to schedule timeslots throughout the next three weeks when students/parents can sign up to retrieve these items. Additional details will be sent out by division heads in the coming days.

Reopening Scenarios

EA has not made a final decision regarding the fall return to school. We are still six weeks from opening day, and the news is changing daily and new guidelines are being released frequently. We are continuing to plan for multiple scenarios, including:

  • Fully online - If we do need to go fully online in the fall, or at any point during the year, we have designed new schedules and plans, based on our key learnings from this past spring. Our teachers have also been completing intensive professional development focused on online learning to be ready for this scenario.
  • In-person, with distancing - This scenario would include in-person instruction, five days per week. If this is the scenario we deploy, we recognize that some families may not be comfortable sending their child for in-person instruction. We also realize that some students may need to move between in-person and online learning formats, due to a need to quarantine. Our academic leaders continue to finalize plans to effectively accommodate these situations.
  • Other scenarios - We will also explore other possible scenarios. While many public schools are moving toward alternating in-person schedules, we feel that we have the space and flexibility to avoid this scenario. However, we have not ruled this out in our planning. We are also thinking about scenarios where some divisions might return in-person and others might complete online learning. We are exploring these types of scenarios just in case we need to move in those directions.

Online teaching certification

In the event we need to move to online learning again at any point, we have made significant investments in faculty training this summer. Many of our teachers who taught summer for-credit and enrichment courses completed a specialized online teaching workshop. In addition, our teachers are currently completing an intensive, multi-week online teaching certification course. The certification course was designed by EA's Center for Teaching and Learning and specifically customized to fit the needs of our faculty. It is geared toward helping our teachers become more comfortable with and more proficient in online instruction.

The following outlines the key learning objectives for this certification:

  • Create interesting and dynamic online learning experiences thanks to a greatly expanded online teaching-specific toolkit.
  • Build and maintain an online community of engaged learners with whom they will build trust and meaningful relationships.
  • Curate the best resources for student learning and engagement in order to achieve stated course learning goals.
  • Balance synchronous and asynchronous time to maximize student learning and achievement; noting that this may look different from one grade level and one subject to the next.
  • Build intentional and low stakes formative assessments that identify student strengths and needs for additional skill or concept mastery.

Recent Parent Feedback

We recently asked all parents to complete a short survey to share their current comfort level with in-person instruction for the fall. The below outlines what parents shared with us. We sent a reminder late in the week to anyone who had not completed the survey, so the following figures might change slightly, as continue to analyze the responses.

As of Tuesday, July 14, 2020:

  • ~80% would be comfortable returning to in-person
  • ~15% are still undecided
  • ~4% are leaning toward not returning to in-person
  • ~1% are not comfortable returning to in-person

We recognize that these data represent a snapshot in time. As a result, we will continue to survey parents on this question throughout the coming weeks.

Latest School Reopening Guidelines

Gov. Wolf's office released its latest guidelines for reopening schools on July 16. Chester County also released updated guidelines for schools on July 6. Since Delaware County does not have a health department, our county falls under the Chester County Health Department. These guidelines go into great detail for schools, and our team has been closely reviewing these documents to ensure we can meet all of the specifications. Here are a few of the key items called out in recent guidelines:

  • Recommended quarantine for 14 days when returning from certain states
  • Masks required for ages 2+
  • 6 feet of social distance to maximum extent feasible
  • Restrict cafeteria and other congregate settings
  • Adjust passing times to limit hallway traffic
  • Limit number of students on playgrounds at same time
  • Students and employees should be screened and monitored for symptoms
  • Special cleaning and disinfecting procedures
  • Encourage frequent handwashing
  • Make hand sanitizer readily available
  • Limit large gatherings and events
  • Restrict non-essential visitors and volunteers
  • Designate an isolation room
  • Staff must be trained

EA Health and Safety Plans

Here are some updates on new health and safety protocols, should we be able to return to in-person instruction this fall.

  • Masking: Masks will need to be worn at all times, except when eating and drinking. We are working to explore situations where we would be able to safely offer students mask breaks throughout the day.
  • Screening requirements: Every student and employee will need to complete a daily health screening before arriving at campus. We are planning to have a mobile app available to help families and staff easily complete and log this screening.
  • Testing: For now, we do not plan to conduct testing. This approach does make sense in boarding schools and colleges since students can be tested at the beginning of the year and then isolated within their campus to prevent exposure. We know we could conduct testing at the beginning of the year, but as soon as a student leaves campus to go home or to other activities, they could be exposed. This would require us to administer regular, ongoing testing, which would be challenging. We are continuing to monitor testing availability and reliability and may change our approach in the future.
  • Health Services: Our nurses have been working to develop protocols for monitoring students and staff. We have also created isolation spaces for anyone who would present symptoms during the school day.
  • Hygiene and Sanitation: Many of the changes we are making were outlined in our recent email communication. These changes include:
    • More cleaning staff
    • Enhancing daily standard
    • 140+ more hand sanitizer stations
    • Touchless faucets in restrooms
    • Updates to handwashing stations
    • Water fountains to bottle-filling stations
    • Special training to be held
    • Reworking classroom layouts to accommodate 6 feet of distance between desks
    • No student lounges - students will be assigned spaces during free blocks
    • Identifying other spaces on campus for lunch, study halls, etc.
    • Limiting class size
    • Rethinking dining services
    • Athletics – we are waiving our athletic requirement for one year
    • Most school events and meetings will be held virtually
    • We will restrict all travel, including field trips and faculty professional development

Work in Progress

In addition to the items above, we are continuing to work on many new protocols and decisions. The following list outlines some of the work that is still in process:

  • Academic planning for online students - This includes plans for students who are not comfortable returning in-person or who must be quarantined for a period of time.
  • Contact tracing and notification policy - The state and local county health departments will continue to be responsible for contact tracing and notification, but we will work to try to enhance these efforts. In the state's latest guidelines, officials shared the following:

"It is the responsibility of DOH or CMHD staff to contact a student or staff person with COVID-19, inform close contacts of their possible exposure, and give instructions to those involved, including siblings and other household members, regarding self-quarantine and exclusions."

"The individual who tested positive will not be identified in communications from DOH or the CMHD to the school community at large"

  • Sick policy - We will have an updated sick policy for students and staff.
  • Dress code - We are thinking about potential dress code changes that would support our health and safety goals.
  • Process for opting out of athletics - We will share details on how students can opt-in/opt-out of athletics in the coming weeks.
  • Lunch plans - We will share details on how to opt-in/opt-out of lunch meal plans in the coming weeks.
  • Chapel - We are working through ways to continue to offer regular Chapel services for students.
  • Performances and productions - We are working through some solutions for these types of events.
  • Admissions procedures - We will be reworking many of our admission events and procedures.
  • Transportation - We are awaiting further information from many school districts on how transportation will work this year.
  • Campus signage - We are producing extensive, campus-wide signage to help direct students and remind them of healthy habits.

Future Communications

We will continue to offer parent webinars throughout the coming weeks. All webinar recaps will be available on our Summer Resources page. We will also begin sharing updates more frequently by email. We are hoping to begin sharing a weekly update via email every Friday afternoon. Before school begins, we will also have a dedicated webpage that will outline all of our new protocols and answers to frequently asked questions. Special training sessions for students, parents, and staff will be held, and we hope to produce some helpful tutorial videos for our families.