Coronavirus (COVID 19)

Garnet Valley School District Resource Page

Garnet Valley School District created this page to serve as a resource for our community. Here you will find current updates from our government, district communications, and additional resources to assist you and your families. We will continue to reinforce the message conveyed by the Governor and Department of Public Health regarding social distancing, avoidance of non-essential travel, and avoidance of large gatherings. We will continue to update this site with the most current information regarding the ongoing details of COVID-19. We would like to thank our community for your continued support.

GARNET VALLEY SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS

March 27, 2020

Dear Parents,

Please take the time to watch this five minute video by clicking here. Also, after watching the video, we suggest that you read through the Parent Checklist below as we get ready to “go live” with online learning today.

Parent Checklist for Online Learning:

  • Complete the Web Conference Permission Form. Completion of this form is mandatory for parents with students in grades 1 to 12. If you have not already, please click here to complete the form. Parents of Kindergarten children are not required to complete the form at this time as most of their teachers are not currently using electronic platforms. If that changes, we will reach out to those parents directly.

  • Read the Online Instruction FAQs for Students and Parents by clicking here. It’s five pages long, but it’s important that you read it. The document will give you all of the information that you will need to assist your children.

  • Conduct a family meeting to create a schedule of when learning will take place and designate an “at home office/classroom” that is quiet but accessible to parents–especially for younger children.

  • As a first family learning activity, ask your children to show you how they access Schoology and/or Seesaw. Have them show you how they navigate through the learning management systems to access their learning.

As we prepare to hit restart on the 2019-20 school year, let’s continue to work together respectfully, empathically, and inclusively as we advocate for our children during these complex times. Finally, remember there are folks in our community that need our support. You can help by using the GV-CTC Venmo account: @GVCTC. If you are asked, the 4 digit code is 3706. Jennifer Tront, GV-CTC Treasurer, owns the account, so you will see her name appear. Donations can also be made through MySchoolBucks by clicking here or by signing into your Myschoolbucks account and selecting the GVCTC donation item in the school store menu.


Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent


*Please see below for previous updates.

March 24, 2020

Dear School Community,

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Department of Education in compliance with Governor Wolf announced that all schools in the Commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. In our region, the spread of the virus is more pervasive than it is in other parts of the state, so our team, along with other districts in Delaware County, are planning to open schools for students on Tuesday, April 14th at the earliest.

In order to help you understand the impact of this next extension of the closure, I have structured my message as follows: (1) Instructional Calendar; (2)Beginning Online Learning; (3) Planning for Extracurriculars and End-of-Year Activities; (4) GV-CTC Donations; and (5) Building and Grounds Cleaning and Closures. I apologize for the long email, but there’s a great deal to share?!?!

Instructional Calendar

Students will begin online learning on Monday, March 30th and continue on a weekday schedule through Thursday, April 9th–schedules that detail dates later in April will come out as we get further direction from the Governor. As our team discussed how to structure the instructional calendar for the next stage of closures, it did not make sense to have students engaged in learning and then interrupt it with spring break. We, however, did understand the need for teachers, students, and parents to have “catch-up days” embedded in the calendar so that everyone could catch up, reorganize, and plan as we all adjust to this new mode of instructional delivery and learning. So that you have a visual of the two-week instructional calendar, it appears below.

Monday 3/30 Tuesday 3/31 Wednesday 4/1 Thursday 4/2 Friday 4/3

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning

Monday 4/7 Tuesday 4/8 Wednesday 4/9 Thursday 4/10 Friday 4/11

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Catch up day

Beginning Online Learning

Online learning begins on Monday, March 30th for students in grades 1 through 12. Kindergarten students will continue to use the print materials previously provided. Beginning on Monday, teachers will use Schoology at the secondary level and Seesaw at the elementary level to deliver instruction, activities, and materials. Since the district is also using these online platforms to track attendance, instructional hours, and monitor student progress, we will need parents' collaboration to ensure that students are logging on and keeping up with their assignments and work. Some teachers will also use Zoom and other web conferencing tools to deliver their online instruction. These web conferencing tools are free cloud conferencing solutions that can be used for small or large group meetings. Through these platforms, teachers can record meetings and make them available to participants by securely posting them in Schoology and Seesaw. For our students’ safety, know that these tools are COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and FERPA (Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act) compliant; but given that these tools may be new for some users, we would like all parents to give permission for your child(ren) to use these new online platforms by completing this form(click here). Parents of Kindergarten children are not required to complete the form as their teachers will not use the electronic platforms.

So that parents have context for how teachers are structuring student work, assignments will be chunked by week from Monday through Friday. All assignments for a given week will be due the following Friday. For instance, for the week of Monday, March 30th all assignments will be due Friday, April 10th. For an overview of our online learning processes and procedures, please click here.

As I stated in last week’s email, it’s vital that parents start to have “family meetings” that focus on a schedule of when learning will take place, designate an “at home office/classroom” that is quiet but accessible to parents–especially for younger children, and make sure that children and parents have accessed either Schoology or Seesaw so that they can troubleshoot any issues.

I want to stress that parents and students remain patient and flexible as we start this new delivery method of instruction and learning. Similarly, our teachers will have realistic expectations for their students. I’m sure that with the proper, “growth mindset” we all will see a multitude of value-added outcomes of this new venture!!!

Planning for Extracurriculars and End-of-Year Activities

One of the many heartbreaking outcomes of the closure of schools is the impact of extracurriculars and school activities. These programs are the lifeblood of our schools, and with literally thousands of students involved, not having the ability of providing them is crushing. I think about our athletes, artists, musicians, actors, and others who have spent hours practicing for events that have been canceled just as I think about our parents who take such pride and pleasure in seeing their children engaged with their passions and interests. Although there is no way for us to anticipate when or even if our programs will return, please know that our leadership team is thinking creatively so that whenever the time comes, we can provide at least some level of programming for our students. Simultaneously, we continue to work with the University of Delaware while also thinking creatively in planning for graduation. As soon as we have definitive information, we will communicate it to you. However, I want to amplify that these issues are high on our priority list!!!

GV-CTC Donations

GV-CTC has raised approximately $11,000, and we continue to add to the total. The district is now providing gift cards to over 70+ families who we’ve identified as in need. These gift cards to local grocery stores will help to provide our community friends and families with critical items. Special thanks to the Concordville Rotary and the Delaware County Chinese American Association for their extremely generous donations.

You can still donate! If you would like to participate, we ask that you use the GVCTC Venmo account: @GVCTC. If you are asked, the 4 digit code is 3706. Jennifer Tront, GV-CTC Treasurer, owns the account, so you will see her name appear. If you know anyone in our community who needs assistance, please have them complete this updated link (Food Services Assistance) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Closures

Buildings and grounds remain closed. Only essential personnel have access, but at this time only one district official is permitted inside buildings to do security and maintenance checks. This protocol will help us to control and hopefully prevent re-contamination of our facilities. Playgrounds and tennis courts also remain closed.

I know that I’ve said it a lot, and I hope that you're not getting dismissive of the sentiment, but we are SO appreciative of the support and cooperation we continue to receive. This school community is respectful, empathetic, inclusive, and advocates strongly for itself. We are fortunate to be a part of Garnet Valley!

Take good care!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 22, 2020

Dear School Community,

It’s been a few days since we communicated, so I wanted to update you on what’s happening in the district. I, however, want to start by thanking our families for their cooperation, support, flexibility, and charity. I have lost count of the wonderful emails and messages offering assistance and support. Your kindness is appreciated more than I can express in a simple email.

Maintaining the structure of my previous emails, today’s message provides updates on the following: (1) Important Information; (2) Preparing for Virtual Learning; (3) Device Distribution to Students; (4) GV-CTC Update; and (5) Building and Grounds Cleaning and Closures.

Important Information

I received several emails asking if the school closing will be extended. As of writing this message, the closure expires on Friday, March 27th. However, as the virus continues to spread, educational leaders across the region believe that the Governor will increase the length of time that schools are closed. We expect to have official information regarding an extended shutdown of schools by early this week. Once we have formal direction, we will start to communicate new “calendars” that account for such important events and activities such as spring break, spring sports, graduation, proms, AP testing, course selection, etc. Information on these activities will come from your children’s principals as the days and weeks progress.

Preparing for Virtual Learning

Educationally, we are planning as though the Governor will extend the school closure. This week, we will remain status quo, but if we are closed during the week of March 30th, our teachers will begin providing online learning to students in grades 1 through 12. Kindergarten students will continue to use the print materials already provided since there was enough material for three weeks of learning experiences. We are working on a plan to provide additional materials to our kindergarten students if needed. Beginning on March 30th, teachers will use their online platforms to take attendance, track instructional hours, and monitor student progress. We will likely need parents of K - 5 students to help with attendance, and we’ll reach out toward the middle of next week with additional information about these procedures.

I want to personally thank Pennsylvania Representatives Steve Bararr and Chris Quinn, Pennsylvania Senator Tom Killion, and U.S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon for their support and advocacy to lessen some of the mandates and regulations that were hindering our ability to provide learning for our students. These leaders continue to take our calls and answer our emails, and we are extremely grateful.

As a result of this potential shift to online learning, I recommend that parents start to have “family meetings” that focus on a schedule of when learning will take place, designate an “at home office/classroom” that is quiet but accessible to parents–especially for younger children, and make sure that children and parents have accessed either Schoology or Seesaw so that they can troubleshoot any issues.

I also ask that parents and students remain patient and flexible because for most of our school community, learning at home is new. Our teachers will have realistic expectations for their students just as I ask parents to have realistic expectations for our educators. With an attitude of flexibility and cooperation, I think that there will be a multitude of positive outcomes that will ultimately improve teaching and learning into the future.

There will be A LOT more information that we will share next week, but I wanted you to have as much time as possible to prepare.

Device Distribution to Students

On Saturday members of the administrative team conducted the final “drive through” distribution of devices. Over 200 parents picked up a device for their children. We now believe that our students have the hardware that they need to access learning.

GV-CTC Donations

GV-CTC has raised over $8700, and we continue to add to the total. Special thanks to many of our local merchants who have generously given! The district continues to provide gift cards so that these families can purchase critical items. You can still donate! If you would like to participate, we ask that you use the GVCTC Venmo account: @GVCTC. If you are asked, the 4 digit code is 3706. Jennifer Tront, GV-CTC Treasurer, owns the account, so you will see her name appear. If you know anyone in our community who needs assistance, please have them complete this updated link (Food Services Assistance) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Closure

Again, buildings and grounds are officially closed. Only essential personnel have access. This protocol will help us to control and hopefully prevent re-contamination of our facilities. I think it’s important to point out that playgrounds and tennis courts are now officially closed. The district and Concord Township officials tried to keep them open but too many children were accessing them and thus violating many of the CDC and governmental regulations. Perhaps some of you saw this site, but if you want updated information on positive COVID-19 cases in our area click here.

Again, thank you for your continued support. I hope you are finding the positives as you go through the days and now weeks of this extraordinary situation. For those families who have children that are experiencing nervousness or anxiety as a result of the pandemic, it's normal but understandably upsetting. Our pupil services department recommended this article as a great resource to assist you. You can read it by clicking here.

Take good care!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 18, 2020

Good Evening,

I have a few important updates to share with everyone. As in previous emails, I’ve structured the message by category so that you can find the information that answers your most pressing questions. Today’s message will address: (1) Updates on Coronavirus Testing; (2) Device Distribution; (3) Optional Educational Opportunities, Activities, and Resources; and (4) GV-CTC Donations.

Update on Coronavirus Testing

The student whom we referenced in previous emails received the test result, and it was negative. The student does not have COVID-19. If/When any further information is shared with the district that is specific to our school community, I will be sure to communicate with you.

Devices

We completed all of our device deliveries today. If you signed up previously and did not get a device or if you now wish to receive one, please CLICK HERE. We will set-up a drive by delivery area in the back area of Garnet Valley Middle School on Monday. You will receive an email with specific times.

Optional Educational Opportunities, Activities, and Resources

Today our District Solicitor Michael Puppio and Special Education Attorney Gabby Goham organized a meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Tom Killion, Pennsylvania Representatives Steve Barrar and Chris Quinn as well as Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Langerholc’s Chief of Staff, Gwen Dando. It was an excellent meeting and our elected officials understood the importance of providing learning for our students during the school closure. We are hopeful that with the help of their advocacy, we will be able to move forward with our original plan to provide students with online learning for as long this shutdown lasts. We hope to move forward in the very near future, but we will communicate to you as soon as we have more definitive information.

The good news on this front is that PDE will not penalize districts/schools that fail to meet the minimum 180-day/hours (990/900/450) requirements as a result of COVID-19 response efforts, and we will not need to adjust our calendar to meet those requirements. Although it is much too early to definitively tell you that all of our dates and activities will remain the same, this direction is significant not only for allowing us to provide instruction, but also for planning our important end-of-year events. Again, it is very early, and we also need to see how long this shut down will continue.

GV-CTC Donations

Thank you Garnet Valley Helpers!!! As of this morning, the GV-CTC has raised $4,726. If you still would like to donate, we ask that you use the GV-CTC Venmo account: @GVCTC. If you are asked, the 4 digit code is 3706. Jennifer Tront, GV-CTC Treasurer, owns the account, so will see her name appear on the account. For anyone who needs assistance, please complete this updated link (Food Services Assistance) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Good night and take good care!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 17, 2020

Dear School Community,

I hope everyone is hanging in there! I guess on the positive side our family played a board game last night for the first time in a very long time–it was my daughter’s 21st birthday, and let me tell you, she was thrilled to celebrate it on the couch with us?!?!?! Hopefully, you are finding the positives in your lives as well. When you get a chance, I ask you to take the time to read this update. It contains important information regarding (1) Optional Educational Opportunities, Activities, and Resources; (2) High School Course Selection; (3) GV-CTC Donations; (4) Building and Grounds Closure and Cleaning; and (5) Updates on Coronavirus Testing.

Optional Educational Opportunities, Activities, and Resources

  • Our transportation department and administrative team worked most of the day to deliver 2,162 devices to the homes of our students in grade K to 8. We finished all of Bethel Springs Elementary and Garnet Valley Elementary School today, and will finish the remainder of the middle school and the entirety of Concord Elementary School tomorrow. We will also deliver Kindergarten packets tomorrow. I am SO PROUD of our team who disinfected every device, labeled each packet, sorted them by address, and traveled throughout the district making deliveries–UPS and FedEx better watch out!!!

  • Based on some remaining unanswered questions from the state and federal departments of education, our original plan for continuing students’ education has been adjusted. The district continues to await definitive information regarding any extensions of the school shutdown beyond March 27th as well as what the Governor meant when he forgave the mandated 180 day school year and hours of instruction. For example, we don’t want to get into a situation where there are more student days than contractual teacher days left in the school year. We, additionally, are still problem solving access issues for some of our students.

  • As a result, teachers will still have educational opportunities and activities uploaded by Thursday, but they are optional for students at this time. As of now, nothing that is being offered to students is mandatory and we will review, reteach, and revisit everything when students return. Like the learning activities and resources, checks for understanding are meant to engage and assist students and will not count for a student’s grade. And, none of the materials are designed to complete a unit or course of study. In short, in the absence of further guidance, we will treat the remainder of this closure as we would if we were shut down for a snow storm. Therefore, if parents have issues with technology or accessing educational materials, please contact your child’s building administration. Like everything else during this closure, factors change quickly. For instance, if we receive updated guidance about the continuation of the shutdown, we may be forced to begin the delivery of instruction. In the event that this change occurs, we will communicate with you immediately.

  • Again, the district continues to await definitive information regarding any extensions of the school closures as well as what the Governor meant when he forgave the mandated 180 day school year and hours of instruction. For example, we continue to ask that if students come back to school, will we have to make up days until the end of June or will we be able to keep our current instructional calendar as it is? This question is incredibly important because it not only has learning implications, but also impacts the number of contracted days our teachers and support staff can work, graduation, budgeting, and a multitude of additional factors. We are also aware that the decision impacts families’ schedules and plans.

High School Course Selection

  • Details regarding the course selection process along with directions can be found on the GVHS website by clicking here. The course selection portal will remain open until we are confident that all of our students have had ample opportunity and guidance to make their selections. When the portal closes, your school counselor will contact you via email if your selection form is not complete.

GV-CTC Donations

  • I am humbled to report that our community has donated over $3000.00 to the GV-CTC in order to help those in need. Thank you to all of our individual “helpers” and to our Home and School Associations that donated money or gift cards. We are making a huge difference for those who need it most. For anyone who needs assistance, please complete this updated link (Food Services Assistance) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Closure

  • Buildings and grounds are officially closed. Only essential personnel have access. I think it’s important to point out that playgrounds, fields, tracks, and other areas will not be cleaned and disinfected until we know when students will return. Custodians will systematically disinfect high touch areas such as desks, counters, chairs, light switches, doorknobs, lower walls, handrails, bleachers, soap/hand sanitizer dispensers, and restrooms using Virex II 256. The will work the following schedule: High School – 3/17 and 3/18. Middle School 3/19, 3/20. GVES 3/23. Concord 3/24. Bethel 3/25. Also, all floors will be doused in Virex II 256 for a duration of 10 minutes or more, then followed up with floor scrubber/cleaning machines. Crews will follow strict, planned out routes to prevent doubling back and possible recontamination of already disinfected areas. All items used will be discarded in biohazard waste containers and disposed of properly. This includes mop heads, gloves, rags, paper towels, and masks. Finally, cleaning equipment will be disinfected at the end of every shift and prepared for the following day.

Updates on Coronavirus Testing

  • We continue to wait on information about our students who were tested for the Coronavirus. To our knowledge there are two students in Garnet Valley who have been tested, but as we have stated, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is charged with sharing information specific to a patient's health. I received this guidance again today after contacting the agency. The department also reminded me that they are the ones who are tasked with contacting potential contacts of patients who test positive. If we learn of any new information, we will report it out immediately.

I hope that you found today’s update helpful. I will be in touch soon. Take good care!!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 16, 2020

Dear School Community,

I hope everyone is doing well and slowly getting acclimated to our new normal. We are extremely appreciative of the questions and concerns that we’ve received from you through our website. We continue to update information as we receive it, and we also continue to ask for your patience as some answers are not yet available. I think it’s important for all of us to keep in mind that we are experiencing an unprecedented situation that evolves everyday. Nevertheless, we will send updates as new details emerge so that you feel connected and up-to-date.

As parents, we are quickly realizing how important normalcy and structure are for our children and families. Our educators, consequently, have been extremely busy over the last few days preparing educational resources and opportunities for our students. Our teachers should be commended for their efforts in ensuring that opportunities are developmentally appropriate, well-structured, and flexible. So that students and parents can access these materials, I ask that you carefully read the information below.

Device Distribution for Students in Grades 1 Through 8

  • Our transportation department with the help of our district administrators will deliver iPads to every student in grades 1 through 5 by the end of the day on Wednesday, March 18th. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide the chargers as they secured within the carts where they are stored.

  • Chromebooks, for those 6 through 8th grade students who requested them, will be delivered by the end of the day on Wednesday, March 18th. If parents still wish their child to receive a Chromebook, they must complete this form (CLICK HERE) by Wednesday at 9AM.

  • For all deliveries, our vans will stop at each house, and an administrator will deliver the device to your door. All equipment was processed outside, disinfected, and placed in an envelope. All individuals who touched the equipment and envelopes wore gloves.

  • Both the iPads and Chromebooks come with login information, tips for care, and family responsibilities for internet safety and standards. If you happen to lose the paper copy that was placed in your child’s envelope, you can find it by clicking on either of these links: iPad Letter Grades 1-5 or Chromebook Letter 6-8.

Educational Resources and Opportunities for Students

  • We will send another email tomorrow with further details so that parents and students have the information that they need to gain access to the educational resources for students.

GV-CTC Donations

  • Many of you have asked about assisting families in need. Fortunately, the Garnet Valley Communities That Care Committee (GV-CTC) can assist. However, before I explain how you can donate, I want folks to understand that about 10% of our students qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. To qualify for free lunch a family of three would have a household income of less than approximately $28,OOO. A family of three whose household income is above $28K but below $40K would qualify for reduced priced lunch. It’s also important to consider that there are families who may not qualify for formal assistance, but now that businesses are shut down are experiencing food insecurity. Thus far, the district has provided gift cards to Giant and Wegman’s so that these families can purchase critical items. We would like to continue to provide resources for as long as possible, so if you would like to donate, we ask that you use the GVCTC Venmo account: @GVCTC. If you are asked the 4 digit code is 3706. Jennifer Tront, GV-CTC Treasurer, owns the account, so will see her name appear on the account. If you need assistance, please complete this form by clicking here and someone from our pupil services department will get back to you.

Tomorrow, we will make deliveries and get back to you with more updates. Keep using the website to send us your questions–you can find it by clicking here.

Take good care!!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 14, 2020

Dear Parents,

We hope that you’re home resting, and enjoyed this beautiful day. Our team will be sending regular updates over the two weeks so that you have the information that you need to feel connected with the school district. In yesterday’s email, we sent out the link to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) page of our website and asked you to submit questions that we would use to generate a Frequently Asked Questions page. To view the current questions and answers, please CLICK HERE. As you will see from the answers, we have detailed information in some areas, but there are still many unknowns. One of the unknowns is the status of the GVHS student who was in proximity of an individual diagnosed with Coronavirus. We have not received any further information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Please understand that the district has no ability to acquire or distribute information in this situation. We continue to wait for updated information like everyone else. Nevertheless, my team will be working throughout the shutdown to gather detailed information, problem solve, and develop solutions. I encourage parents to submit questions by CLICKING HERE.

If you’re anything like my wife and me, you’ve been asking each other “what are we going to do with our kids for two weeks?!?!” Although a few open days are nice, we all know that children need routine and structure. Therefore, the majority of the district’s planning has been focused on providing resources for parents and students. This planning culminated in the following schedule:

  • Monday and Tuesday, March 16th & 17th: our staff will be planning for flexible delivery of instruction

  • Wednesday, March 18th: assignments for 6th - 12th grade will be available in Schoology

  • Thursday, March 19th: assignments for 1st through 5th grade will be available in Seesaw (options for kindergarten are in the planning stage)

Clearly, technology is an important component of this plan. For those students who are in grades 1 to 8 and need access to technology, we ask that you fill out this form by CLICKING HERE. We will be in touch within the next day or two with information about how we will deliver the devices to your home with the help of our transportation department. For those families who are interested, Comcast is offering a low-cost option for internet service, and the first two months are free for new customers. Click here for more information. Alternatives will be available for students who are unable to access technology.

Several parents have asked for resources that they can use with their children. Please click here to access a wealth of great resources that you can use at home to keep your children engaged in learning and review.

Our team will continue to refine plans as new information emerges and will send more specific information within the next couple of days. We’ll continue to monitor questions posted on the Garnet Valley website. Enjoy the weekend and take good care of yourselves.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 13, 2020

Dear School Community,

This afternoon the Governor announced that he will be closing all K-12 schools in Pennsylvania. Therefore, the Garnet Valley School District will be closed beginning this evening and remain closed for students and all employees through Friday, March 27th. At this time, schools are not scheduled to reopen until Monday, March 30th. Additionally, all spring sports and any school related activities are cancelled until the district reopens.

This decision is significant as it means that our school buildings and grounds will be closed to the public during this time, and we ask that families respect this direction. We also ask that families curtail their social activities while our region attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As this situation evolves, we will continually update our school community with emails and postings to our website.

As for the education of our students, when the government shuts down districts, there is no expectation that instruction continue. In fact, Governor Wolf stated, “that no school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day requirement or school hours requirements.” We, however, plan to provide educational skill reinforcement opportunities as available. A complication that a forced shutdown creates is that we will not have an opportunity to see our teachers or students to distribute materials or technology for those who need them. My team and I will work on these issues over the next few days, develop solutions, and communicate accordingly.

I’m sure that you have many questions regarding the closing of schools, so we will continue to communicate information regarding our status and other related topics. In the meantime, please CLICK HERE to submit questions that we will use for a Frequently Asked Questions section of our COVID-19 website.

Thank you for your continued cooperation, patience and support.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 12, 2020

Dear School Community,

Out of an abundance of caution, we are closing Garnet Valley High School tomorrow, Friday, March 13th for a deep cleaning. There will be no school or extracurricular activities for students on Friday and for the remainder of the weekend. Teachers and office staff are to work from home. Tonight we learned that one of our high school students was in proximity to an individual who tested positive for COVID 19. The high school administration is in communication with the family, and as of writing this email, I have a call and message into the PA Department of Health for further guidance.

As I've repeatedly stated, this situation is incredibly fluid, and I urge the school community to pay attention to their emails and check our website throughout the day tomorrow and for the rest of the weekend. As of tonight, our plan is to have a teacher inservice day on Monday, so there will be no school for all students grades K to 12.

I will also send a phone message in the morning, but I wanted to put out information tonight as well. I will be in touch with further information.

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

Garnet Valley School District

March 12, 2020

Dear School Community,

As a result of Governor Wolf's announcement to close all Montgomery County schools for 14 days, we are providing more uniform procedures to protect the health of our students and employees as well as the integrity of our core academic programming. In Garnet Valley core academic programming is inclusive of teaching, learning, and school based activities that are closed to non-district employees. I feel that it’s important to point out that Garnet Valley won’t close schools in isolation and will follow the direction of county leaders and the Governor.

Our procedures are structured by the Delaware County Pandemic Action Plan, which can be found on our website by clicking here. Based on this plan, we are now at the Postponing level, and we will practice social distancing from those outside of our community. This process will start in totality tomorrow as all teacher conferences will be done by phone. Principals will be in touch with an explanation of the process for conducting the teleconferences. Additionally, we are implementing the following:

Through March 22nd

  • Canceling all extra-curricular competitions inclusive of athletic games and scrimmages with outside districts.

Through April 12th

  • Canceling all field trips, student travel, large group gatherings, and HSA events.

  • Postponing student activities and ceremonies that include audiences and spectators.

  • Closing all district buildings to outside groups through April 12th.

  • Canceling any visitations to our buildings from outside groups.

*If you have questions about specific activities, please call your child’s building administration.

Again, our schools will remain open unless we receive further direction. Since our students will be in our buildings and interacting as they usually do, we will continue to have practices and clubs; however, these activities are closed to non Garnet Valley students and employees.

I feel so badly for taking this next step as I know that many students and families will be disappointed by missing much anticipated activities. We, however, are following the health officials' direction and practicing social distancing in conjunction with other school districts in our county. As I have stated in previous emails, this situation is extremely fluid, so please check your email regularly. I also advise parents to make plans in the event our county schools must close.


Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 12, 2020

Dear School Community,

We continue to pay close attention to the developments regarding COVID-19. Although schools and the majority of their activities are running on their normal schedules, we are beginning to limit events. These limitations will be communicated on a case-by-case basis for the next few days, but I anticipate that more generalized determinations will be made after county superintendents meet with emergency management representatives and health officials tomorrow morning. If any new developments emerge from tomorrow's meeting or from CDC or PA Health Department guidance, I will be sure to communicate them to you as quickly as possible.

Just a reminder that our professional development day is still scheduled for Monday, and we will soon have information to share with parents to assist them in navigating their students’ learning in the event we have an extended closing. We also continue to update the website with COVID-19 related information in case parents need to refer to previous communications or documents. You can go to the site by CLICKING HERE.

Our faculty, staff, and administrators are so appreciative of your continued support and cooperation. The kind emails, messages, as well as the offers of assistance are both humbling and inspiring. I will continue to be in touch.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 9, 2020

Dear Parents and Families:

Our district, in a coordinated effort throughout the county, will be closed for students on Monday, March 16. This will be a day of instructional planning for administrators and teachers to focus on solidifying preparations for the possibility of school closures due to recent developments of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. Since we have not used any snow days this school year, we have built in days that allow us to accommodate the missed instructional time while complying with Department of Education regulations. At this time, extracurricular activities will take place as they normally do on inservice days as will any evening events. I want to stress that this is a day for proactive planning. By clicking this link, you will find a document that outlines the response levels of pandemic action planning. Based on our work with Delaware County health and emergency service officials and in partnership with the county superintendents, we are currently still in the monitoring phase. We, however, are closely approaching the limiting phase, but will make necessary decisions in concert with local officials and experts.

While we remain hopeful that we will not need to close buildings for extended periods of time, we want to proactively plan so that we are able to minimize disruptions to the educational process. For example, grade level and content area teams of teachers will be analyzing the remainder of the school year and prioritizing content and concepts as well as discussing which instructional delivery methods will work best. As I stated in earlier messages, we are fortunate in Garnet Valley to have a robust infrastructure and a great deal of expertise and experience with online learning.

Administratively, our team will be working on troubleshooting issues around ensuring that our families have access to technology, creating videos and tutorials for parents on how to assist their children with assignments, and several related topics as we plan and prepare.

I understand how keeping students home on a school day complicates family and work schedules, which is why we are giving you as much time as possible to make plans. I also want to stress that parents will need to develop contingencies so that they are prepared in the event that we have to close schools for an extended period of time. As always, we appreciate your understanding, flexibility, and ongoing support!


Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 6, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We have been closely monitoring news from health officials and the media related to the COVID-19 virus, especially the Central Bucks and Delaware County situations. We also met as an administrative team today, to discuss planning and preparedness. An obvious possibility is closing schools. Fortunately, we have the infrastructure and expertise to leverage our online and virtual capabilities in the event we need to extend the closing beyond the days that are built into our calendar for inclement weather. Clearly, I will be in contact before we would engage these options, but I recommend that you begin thinking about how you might prioritize content and use technology to flex instruction.


For our immediate needs, Bob Sanderson is bringing in extra disinfecting products so that all staff have access to supplies for their classrooms and spaces. Fortunately, Bob was able to obtain a large quantity of Lysol wipes. These are an alcohol-based product that are not only effective in killing this virus but are safe for use in schools. While some bleach-based products may do a better job of cleaning a surface, they don't do a better job of disinfecting the surface. Bleach-based products, especially when used en masse, can cause other problems for health, including respiratory and skin irritation. Our goal is to effectively disinfect surfaces with as little adverse impact on student and staff health as possible. The wipes we provide allow us to do that. I, however, want to point out that teachers are not mandated to clean their classrooms. It is only a recommendation and is based on your level of concern and/or need. Also, there is not an unlimited quantity of product, so it will be available as long as supplies last.

Bob is also in close contact with our cleaning crews to ensure that desks and touch points are a priority in daily disinfecting regardless of where it appears on the room cleaning checklist. With an additional supply of wipes, staff, should they wish to do so, will be able to supplement those disinfecting protocols as needed throughout the day. If you choose to use wipes, we strongly recommend that you use the ones that we’ve provided. They are effective in killing this virus and are safe for use in our schools. Some of you have asked what our cleaning crews are using. We use Virex to clean daily and Monk wipes to supplement on surfaces such as doorknobs.

We will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely and will reach out with additional updates as needed. Thanks for all that you’re doing. I really appreciate the calm and conscientious approach that you continue to take with our students and with each other.


Thanks again,

Marc

March 6, 2020

Dear School Community,

We learned in today's news that five schools in the Central Bucks School District are closed after individuals were exposed to a confirmed exposure to the coronavirus. We also learned late this morning that there is a potential case of the virus in Delaware County. As part of our process during this situation, we continue to review information from the CDC and contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Both agencies recommend that schools should continue to collaborate, share information, and review plans with local health officials to help protect the whole school community, including those with special health needs. Additionally, they recommend that schools design plans to minimize disruption of the educational process and protect students and staff from social stigma and discrimination.

In Garnet Valley our plan builds on our everyday practices of encouraging hand hygiene, monitoring absenteeism, and communicating routinely with local, regional, and national experts. As for the option of closing schools, we have not received any notification that there have been exposures or confirmed cases in our attendance boundaries. Therefore, there is currently no plan to shut down any of our buildings. This direction could change pending more information and direction from governmental agencies. It’s important to note that we have not used any snow days this year, so we do have viable options in the event that we need to close school. Additionally, we are fortunate in our district that we have a robust technological infrastructure as well as teachers trained in a multitude of online platforms, applications, and instructional strategies. In fact, at the high school level over 400 students already take online and/or blended classes. So, there are opportunities for innovative options should we need them. Parents can help us in the event of a closing by working on alternative child care plans now.

My team will continue to meet, monitor the situation, and communicate with all relevant information. Our custodial crews will continue to prioritize the daily disinfecting of desk tops and touch points. We will also provide our teachers with disinfecting wipes so that this process occurs throughout the day. Parents can speak to their children about the importance of routine hand washing, appropriately covering coughs and sneezes, and overall good hygiene practices. Just as importantly, when children have a fever they should stay home and not return to school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication. Children experiencing vomiting and diarrhea must be kept home for 24 hours after the last episode.

As always, we appreciate our community’s support and cooperation. You can assist us by remaining vigilant but sensible in your approach to dealing with this health concern. As you know, we are the greatest influence on our children’s reactions to these types of events. As a result, let’s remain calm, respectful, empathetic, and inclusive while advocating for ourselves and others. Below are some resources that might be helpful.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

Parent Resources

February 27, 2020

Dear School Community,

While watching the news this morning, I saw that many media outlets are recommending that parents reach out to their children’s schools regarding their planned response to the coronavirus. As a result, we have received phone calls and emails expressing justifiable concerns. Like many other school districts, we are closely monitoring the situation, and our nurses and pupil services team are in constant contact with their colleagues as well as checking with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To access the CDC website CLICK HERE.

Many families expressed their concerns about travel. As of today, we are planning to run our scheduled trips over spring break, but we will communicate with parents immediately if plans need to change. For specific global travel information based on CDC recommendations CLICK HERE.

The CDC reports that the potential public health threat posed by the coronavirus is high, both globally and to the United States. Individual risk, however, is dependent on exposure, and for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk is low. Nevertheless, the federal government is working closely with their partners at the state and local levels, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat.

According to health officials, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat. From a school district perspective, it is currently flu and respiratory disease season and the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed. Per my earlier email regarding the flu, our custodial crews continue to target desks and other school touch points with antibacterial cleaning products.

In an effort to keep our school community current, we ask that everyone connect with us through social media and frequently check in with our website news. Please know that with three children and one currently studying abroad, I truly empathize with our parent’s concerns. Like every other difficult situation in our school community, we’ll get through it together!

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando