St. Peter’s has been so fortunate over the last few weeks to be able to continue with in-building instruction. Our students, faculty and families have made good decisions and the result is a continuation of being together as a community and learning in person. For this, we are all grateful.
However, our city is facing accelerated exponential growth of infection and transmission rates of COVID-19, all while the holiday season is approaching and temperatures are dropping. Additionally, recent recommendations from the CHOP PolicyLab strongly advise that schools consider going virtual as early as Monday, November 16. Due to these things, the School has been having conversations about the possibility of providing a virtual learning model for some period of time, whether proactively or reactively, and perhaps even on short notice.
As part of these conversations, we are weighing many factors including the case incidence rate per 100,000 and test positivity thresholds, along with evidence suggesting that our successful execution of cohorting among elementary school-aged students is proving to be a safe approach, even during the increasing incidences.
It has been our goal to continue with instruction in the building as long as possible, as safely as possible; however, we are listening to the experts and the science, and acknowledging the need to mitigate the risks wherever we can. Simply put, it feels like the walls are closing in on us.
We have decided to transition to virtual learning for all ALL STUDENTS the week immediately following the Thanksgiving Holiday, Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 4. Additionally, there will be no school on Tuesday, November 24 prior to the Thanksgiving Break. This will provide our teachers with a professional development day to work with their partner teacher in anticipation of transitioning to a virtual classroom.
On Monday, December 7, all students will return to the building for instruction, through Friday, December 18 at noon, when the winter holiday vacation begins.
At the conclusion of the winter vacation, ALL STUDENTS will transition back to virtual learning from Tuesday, January 5 through Friday January 15. In building instruction will resume for everyone on Tuesday, January 19 (as Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). See below for a schedule overview.
The purpose of this decision, which reflects advice from the SPS Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee and with the support of the Board of Trustees, is to proactively respond to worsening viral spread in the broader community by providing a period of virtual instruction for our students. During this period, any incidences of exposure will be identified by anyone who becomes symptomatic without risking transmission into the school community.
We know there have been many sacrifices made by members of the SPS community in order to maintain a safe environment for all. And we know that this transition to virtual learning poses a new set of challenges and hardships for our families. We truly hope that taking these measures now will allow us to safely resume instruction in the building for as much time as possible in the winter and spring of 2021. We believe that this decision is an investment in a better and healthier future for our school community, our city, and most importantly, our students’ education.
Even as we look towards this period of virtual learning, it can not be overstated that the measures taken within the walls of our school building are only as good as the measures taken by our community members outside of School. Every community member is strongly urged to mirror the diligence of COVID-19 precautions taken during the school day hours, into their experiences and interaction outside of school. We all have a responsibility to one another to make difficult and wise decisions to remain healthy so your children can continue to reap the benefits of learning in the building instead of virtually.
We appreciate the sacrifices each of you have made – and will continue to make – and we look forward to our continued partnership as we strive to keep our students, teachers and community safe and the building open for in-person learning.
Overview of In-Person & Virtual Instruction Schedule:
Tuesday, November 24: NO SCHOOL Professional Development for Teachers
Wednesday, November 25 – Sunday, November 29: NO SCHOOL Thanksgiving Break
Monday, November 30 – Friday, December 4: Virtual Instruction for ALL Students
Monday, December 7 – Friday, December 18: In-Person Instruction for ALL Students
Monday, December 21 – Monday, January 4: NO SCHOOL Winter Break
Tuesday, January 5 – Friday, January 15: Virtual Instruction for ALL Students
Monday, January 18: NO SCHOOL Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Tuesday, January 19: In-Person Instruction for ALL Students
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