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

April 17, 2020

Dear School Community,

I have a great deal to share today. For those of you who have a specific interest in a particular topic, today’s message covers the following: (1) Parent Survey #2; (2) Student Building Cleanout and Library Books/Textbooks/Devices Drop Off Schedule; (3) End-of-Year Instructional Calendar; (4) Grading Overview by Level; (5) Garnet Valley Strong and GV-CTC; and (6) Food Relief.

Parent Survey #2

The input of students, parents, and teachers continues to be a vital component of our continuous learning plan. So that we can maintain this important communication loop which drives both our professional learning topics and instructional decisions, please take Parent Survey #2 by clicking here.

Student Building Cleanout and Library Books/Textbooks/Devices Drop Off Schedule

We understand that students did not have an opportunity to clean out their lockers and retrieve their belongings when we left in March. We appreciate your understanding and patience through the stay-at-home orders. We, however, will have to clean-out our buildings so that we can prepare for the upcoming school year. Simultaneously, students at the elementary and middle levels will have to return their devices to our technology department. Both cleanout and device drop-off will take place on the dates detailed below. Building principals will communicate with families and provide specific directions as we get closer to the dates. It’s also important to note that after our technology department collects devices, they will clean then redistribute them to students during the summer so that we are prepared for every possibility next year.

Student Building Clean-out & Library Books/Textbooks/Devices Drop Off Schedule

Dates Student Groups

June 1 through June 5 Seniors

June 8 GVES, BSES, and CES

June 9 GVES, BSES, and CES

June 10 GVHS, GVMS

June 11 GVHS, GVMS

June 12 Make Up Day

End-of-Year Instructional Calendar:

We have finalized the instructional calendar for the end of the year, and it appears below. Since student activities–exams, transition assemblies, awards ceremonies–that normally occur during the last few days of school will not occur this year and since our students and their families are becoming more and more fatigued with virtual learning, we will be closing schools approximately one week earlier this year.

Please understand that we are already in the process of planning for next year. Not only are we planning to redistribute devices to elementary and middle school students this summer, but our teachers will be determining where students’ learning ended and where they will start next year. Additionally, we continue to explore strategies, professional learning, and other means to make instructional delivery methods as agile as possible. As a school community, we have to accept that we need to be able to provide learning regardless of whether students are in school or at home. I think the sooner we accept this new reality, the more prepared we will all be intellectually and emotionally.

End-of-Year Instructional Calendar

Mon 5/11 Tues 5/12 Wed 5/13 Thurs 5/14 Fri 5/15

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student CatchUp

Mon 5/18 Tues 5/19 Wed 5/20 Thurs 5/21 Fri 5/22

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student CatchUp

Mon 5/25 Tues 5/26 Wed 5/27 Thurs 5/28 Fri 5/29

Memorial Day Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student CatchUp

No School *Last Day for Seniors

Mon 6/1

Underclassmen Online Learning / Senior Building Clean-out

Tues 6/2

UnderclassmenOnline Learning / Senior Building Clean-out

Wed 6/3

UnderclassmenOnline Learning / Senior Building Clean-out

Thurs 6/4

UnderclassmenOnline Learning / Senior Building Clean-out

Fri 6/5

**Last Day for Underclassmen / Senior Building Clean-out

Mon 6/8

Underclassmen Building Clean-out

Tues 6/9

Underclassmen Building Clean-out

Wed 6/10

Underclassmen Building Clean-out

Thurs 6/11

Underclassmen Building Clean-out

Fri 6/12

Underclassmen Building Clean-out

*All outstanding assignments and assessments for 12th grade students are due on Friday, June 5th.

**All outstanding assignments and assessments for K-11 students are due on Friday, June 12th.

Grading Overview by Level:

Your children’s building principal(s) will communicate with you specifically about final grades for the 2019-20 academic year. All students are expected to complete their assignments to the best of their abilities and engage with their school work during the scheduled instructional days.

Expectations and grading differs by developmental level. At the elementary level, we will not issue our typical standardized progress report. Instead, teachers will continue to provide meaningful feedback on student learning through Seesaw and Schoology. At the close of the third trimester, parents will have the ability to download a .zip archive of their children’s Seesaw journal and any courses in Schoology.

At middle level, teachers will continue issuing numerical grades for assigned work for the remainder of the school year, and parents can view the progress on their virtual work through Alma. However, in regard to final grades for the 3rd and 4th quarters, we will not issue a numerical grade for each. Instead, we will evaluate the cumulative virtual learning that took place during these quarters and students will receive either a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Then, at the end of the school year, students will receive a final grade based primarily on the first two marking periods. The middle school is implementing a “do no harm” philosophy, an approach that does not allow any poor performance in virtual learning to impact students’ grades negatively. Finally, report cards will contain a statement that acknowledges that the 2019-20 school year was interrupted by COVID-19.

Grades at the high school level are more complex. We have to acknowledge that the vast majority of our students apply to college; consequently, we have to be mindful of their transcripts. To this end, we will maintain the numerical grade structure at the high school, albeit with significant accommodations. The high school will also place a brief reminder of the COVID-19 pandemic event on students’ transcripts. Similar to middle school, GVHS will apply a “do no harm” philosophy when evaluating student performance; therefore, poor performance in virtual learning cannot impact students’ grades negatively. Finally, no student will earn a grade less than 60 (D-) in any course, thus allowing every student to move on to the next course and/or grade.

GV-CTC, Garnet Valley Strong, and Food Relief

The GV-CTC continues to receive donations. 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 reach out as soon as possible.

The Little Hero Foundation (to learn more about the non-profit click here) has created Garnet Valley Strong wristbands to remind everyone that we are stronger together. We hope the free wristbands provide a smile to Garnet Valley families while showing support for our awesome community! The foundation’s primary goal is that the wristbands bring joy to everyone at home missing their friends. On the order form link (click here) there is also a completely optional donation section. 100 percent of every optional donation received is divided between GV-CTC and the AI DuPont emergency families fund (to help families in the hospital pay for adult meals without having to risk unnecessary exposure during the COVID19 crisis by leaving isolation units). To date, we have dispersed nearly 700 wristbands around the community and raised $1,200.00! (Jenn, please let me know how to send you a check for the ~$600 GV-CTC portion raised so far.)

Food Relief

We understand that not having the availability of the school lunch program during the school closure may present a significant hardship for some of our families. If this is the case for your family, please complete this form - Grab and Go Food Distribution Form

Garnet Valley School District will be providing Grab and Go meals to families in need for their children 18 years of age and under. Meals will be available for pick up from 11AM to noon on Mondays and Wednesdays at Garnet Valley Middle School’s rear entrance.

You will need to pre-register using the link above by Monday morning at 7AM to receive food for the week. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Kristin Smeins - smeinsk@garnetvalley.org.


Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

Garnet Valley School District

*Please see below for previous updates.

April 17, 2020 - An Update from Our Superintendent

Dear School Community,

Today, I wanted to update you on a number of topics that will impact families as we continue the school closure through the remainder of the academic year. I realize that for some members of our school community, I am not providing enough definitive information, and they are feeling frustrated. Please understand that balancing the recommendations of the Department of Health, guidance from the Department of Education, and the many directives from the Governor’s office with the multitude of needs in our school community is complex. Simultaneously, as information changes quickly, I am hesitant to cancel events or make long term decisions that go beyond a few weeks. I, consequently, would rather keep some decisions pending so that we maintain as many options as possible. I really appreciate your understanding, cooperation, and flexibility.

Our topics for this week are as follows: (1) Instructional Calendar; (2) Graduation and Proms; (3) Grades and Final Exams; (4) Reopening School Buildings to Retrieve Possessions; (5) Student Survey Results; and (6) GV-CTC and Mini-Thon donations.

Instructional Calendar

Below is the instructional calendar for the next month. I hope you are noticing that we value everyone’s input as we continually improve our virtual learning delivery methods and strategies. As a result, we have embedded a teacher inservice each week so that we can provide professional development that is responsive to the data that we receive from our surveys, observations, and other feedback loops. Simultaneously, the Friday, Student Catch-Up Days take into account that families are undoubtedly dealing with uncontrollable issues such as unstable wifi, software glitches, hardware availability, and parents’ work schedules. As a result, Catch Up Days are designed to give students adequate time to complete projects and assignments as well as take assessments. Teachers will not assign new work on catch up days.

Within the next few weeks, we will send another email that details the dates for the end-of-school. We are working with our team, school board, and consulting with districts throughout the county to determine an end date that meets the multitude of needs in our school community. Please note that regardless of any adjustments to the calendar, the end of school date will not extend the academic year beyond the previously reported June 5th date for seniors and June 15th for underclassmen.

Mon 4/20 Tues 4/21 Wed 4/22 Thurs 4/23 Fri 4/24

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student Catch-Up

Mon 4/27 Tues, 4/28 Wed, 4/29 Thurs, 4/30 Fri 5/1

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student Catch-Up

Mon 5/4 Tues 5/5 Wed 5/6 Thurs 5/7 Fri 5/8

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student Catch-Up

Mon 5/11 Tues 5/12 Wed 5/13 Thurs 5/14 Fri 5/15

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice/Student Catch-Up

Graduation and Proms

I wanted to include a message that Steve Brandt, GVHS principal, is sending out today with an update on the “once in a lifetime” events for high school students. I think he did a great job of giving an overview of his committee’s progress while acknowledging that definitive action is not possible at this point.

Message From Steve Brandt:

On Wednesday, our committee, inclusive of staff, students, and parents, met to discuss upcoming activities and events. Most events were canceled, but the committee is working to preserve the following events in some capacity:

  • Junior Prom: We are looking at moving this event to later in the summer. We are still working with the King's Mill venue as our location.

  • Senior Awards Night: This event will move to a digital presentation.

  • Senior Prom: We are looking at moving this event to mid/late summer. We are still working with the Drexelbrook venue as our location.

  • Senior Post Prom: Our parents are working diligently to identify an alternative plan, which aligns to the time frame of Senior Prom.

  • Graduation: We are currently coordinating with the University of Delaware on our graduation event. As of today, our June 9th date is still not eliminated, but we have also started planning an alternative date for mid/late summer. The University of Delaware is exploring the possibility of allowing us to use their venue at a later date as well. Our committee is also exploring other options if a ceremony at the University of Delaware is not possible. Lastly, on this most important event, our committee is also examining a digital platform to honor and recognize our Seniors in addition to a more traditional ceremony.

As everyone can imagine, these conversations are very fluid and are contingent upon government and health officials' recommendations and mandates. We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our school community members, but we certainly recognize the value and importance of the events listed above and we are desperately trying to preserve them. Our committee will meet again on Tuesday, and we have a follow-up meeting on Thursday with the University of Delaware. It is our hope that we will have more concrete dates and details within the next two weeks. Thank you in advance for your patience and support as we navigate these unprecedented and ever-changing times.

Grading and Exams

No final decisions have been made regarding students’ grades. We are analyzing several options while also soliciting teacher input, consulting with other districts, contacting colleges and universities, and analyzing the guidance of various professional organizations. We are considering options that include pass/fail, averaging and weighting the face-to-face grades with the virtual work, and various other possibilities. Regardless of what we decide, I want to stress that learning from now until the end of the school year counts. Students will move to the next grade level and we need them as prepared as possible with the understanding that next year’s teachers will need to review and reteach concepts at the beginning of the year. The only decision that we have made at this point is that there will not be final exams at the secondary level.

Reopening School Buildings to Retrieve Possessions

We understand that several of you are frustrated by the fact that you are unable to retrieve your possessions from our buildings. We met today to finalize plans for temporary openings that will allow this process to take place. It will start with teachers and then accommodate students. The difficulty in opening the buildings is that we have to follow rules on social distancing and on public gatherings of no more than 10 people while also complying with the stay at home order that does not expire until at least April 30th. Clearly, the building “clean outs” will look different at each level, and we will provide specific directions, guidelines, and schedules soon after April 30th.

Results of the Student Survey

Thank you to the approximately 750 high school students who responded to last week’s survey. Dr. Kingsborough provided teachers and students with an overview of the data, but I wanted to give the rest of the community a quick overview. All of the data that we are receiving from our community is playing a vital role in assessing our virtual learning program. So, THANK YOU for your conscientious participation!!!

One of the key areas of the survey was to understand students’ perceptions of their workload. Over 80% of the students in grades 9 through 12 reported that there is too much work being assigned. No students reported not receiving enough work–huge surprise :)!!

Since elective courses are a major part of students’ high school education, we wanted perspective on the time allocation between elective and core areas. Students reported that they were spending anywhere between 20 minutes to over an hour a day on the work assigned by their elective teachers. Students’ time was spread somewhat evenly along the range of 20 to 30 minutes, 30 to 45 minutes, 45 to 60 minutes, and over 60 minutes.

In the core areas, the responses showed less diversity. Over 71% of the students reported that they were spending over an hour a day for each core area course. 22% reported spending 45 to 60 minutes per course, per day.

We were pleased to see that over 67% of the students’ believed that it was relatively easy to obtain assistance from their teachers while 21% felt it was a “piece of cake” to get assistance. Conversely, 11.4% of the students felt that it was difficult to get academic help.

Again, all of this information is being used to refine, adjust, and improve our continuity of education plan. Our programming will continue to improve, and it is our hope that what we are learning will not only help our current delivery methods but will also assist us as we move forward with blended and online learning opportunities for students in the future.

Mini-Thon and GV-CTC

The GV-CTC continues to do a wonderful job raising funds. More and more of our families need our support, so we still need donations. 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.

I would like to share this message from GVHS Madelynn Lederer:

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Mini-THON. Please click on their names and take two minutes to watch these videos from two of our seniors, Christine Palmer and Scott Lehrfeld, who will explain more about why your support is important. Please click here to donate, thank you for your support!

I wish everyone a wonderful "stay at home" weekend!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

Garnet Valley School District

April 13, 2020 - An Update from Our Superintendent

Good Morning,

I hope everyone is doing okay and staying healthy. Even though we've had a few days to digest the news that schools will not open this academic year, if you’re like me, it’s still hard to believe. Nevertheless, one of the few positive outcomes of the decision is that we can now start long-term planning for the remainder of the virtual learning school year. Over the next few weeks, we will provide a revised instructional calendar with specific dates for the end of the school year for seniors and underclassmen, graduation plans, course selection information, details about how and when we will open schools for faculty, staff, and students to retrieve their personal items, and a multitude of other issues that I know are important to all members of our school community. As you know many of our plans have to comply with health regulations and directives from the Governor, so I ask for your patience and cooperation in advance.

For this week, I wanted to share information on the results of the parent survey as we continue to refine our virtual learning implementation. Also, I’ve included this week’s instructional calendar, the updated parent FAQs, and a reminder about the GV-CTC and Mini-Thon donations.


Results of the Parent Survey

Thank you to the approximately 800 parents who responded to last week’s survey. I realize that the last thing parents need right now is to spend more time online, but please know that we not only appreciate your efforts, but also your feedback, which is a vital component in assessing our virtual learning program. Along with parents, we have surveyed our teachers and will soon send out a high school student survey–please encourage your children to take it! It’s important to remember that we are just two weeks into of our new delivery model, so making adjustments based on the feedback of teachers, students, and parents is paramount!

The first aspect of the survey that we observed was that respondents were spread nicely amongst the grade levels. This spread gives us a great holistic perspective of parents’ perceptions.

One of our greatest concerns moving to an online delivery model was workload. 65% of our parents felt that what was assigned was “just right” while 24% felt it was too much. 11% of parents thought that there was not enough work assigned. 84 respondents chose the other option and provided a range of comments that our team has gone through to get more nuanced information.

Like workload, we were also concerned with how the learning was paced for our students. Thus far 77% of the parents felt that the pacing of the work was “manageable.” 14% that it was paced too quickly while 5% thought it was paced too slowly. As was the case in the workload questions, some parents–approximately 55–chose the “other” option to provide written feedback.

Overall, we were pleased with the results of the survey, but we understand that we will need to adjust and improve on an ongoing basis. For example, parents saw communication, the organization of assignments, and the clarity of directions for assignments as overall strengths, but within the positive feedback there are definitely areas of growth that we are sharing with our administrators and teachers. These areas included parents' frustration with Seesaw and Schoology. They feel that it should be easier to navigate and more reliable. Another area of critical feedback was that parents want their students' virtual learning to include more "live" classes through Zoom.

Anecdotally, we know that parents are feeling a great deal of pressure and anxiety overseeing their children’s learning. This feeling is especially pervasive at the elementary level as children have less independence with their learning and require more supervision as they access technology. Perhaps most important for all of us is the social isolation of our children. Although I don’t think anyone has a great solution for this issue, our teachers continue to brainstorm and create ways to connect students virtually so that they can interact with their friends and teachers.

Again, we will take all of this feedback and make adjustments, refine our delivery methods, and create a virtual learning program that aligns with students' needs.


Instructional Calendar

As I stated in previous messages, we will continue to provide “breaks” in the calendar so that students can regroup, catch-up, and adjust to fully online learning. It will also be an opportunity for our teachers to plan and participate in professional learning. I will send the remainder of April’s calendar either later this week or early next week. We do plan to maintain Fridays as an embedded professional learning and planning day for teachers and a catch up day for students.

Mon 4/13 Tues 4/14 Wed 4/15 Thurs 4/16 Fri 4/17

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice Day


FAQs for Parents and Student

We continue to update information for parents and students. Perhaps the best resource to utilize when you have questions is our FAQ document. You can access it by clicking here


Mini-Thon and GV-CTC

Through the efforts of our amazing school community, the GV-CTC has raised over $18,500. As the closures continue, more and more of our families will need our support, so we still need donations. 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.


I would like to share this message from GVHS Madelynn Lederer:

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Mini-THON. Your donations ensure that families with a child battling pediatric cancer at Penn State Children's Hospital never see a bill for their child's treatment. Please click here to donate, and thank you for your support! Please click on their names and take two minutes to watch these videos from two of our seniors, Kristin Deaver and Vikas Rana, who will explain more about why your support is important.

Have a great week!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

April 9, 2020 - Response to School Closing

Dear School Community,

Please watch this two minute video to learn about Governor Wolf's decision to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. To access the video CLICK HERE or see the video below. I will be in touch early next week with follow up information regarding some of the many factors that we will need to address as a result of this news.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent


WEB CONFERENCING UPDATE

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As many of our parents are aware, there is a lot of information and misinformation online and on social media about many of the apps and online platforms schools are now using to deliver online instruction. One platform that is getting a lot of attention is Zoom, a web conferencing tool teachers, including Garnet Valley teachers, are using for small and large group class meetings.

Zoom is a platform that allows for robust audio, video, file, and screen sharing. It also fosters interaction with collaborative editing, polling, and breakout rooms. Like us, you may have read articles about “Zoom Bombing,” a practice where hackers gain access to a public Zoom meeting and attempt to disrupt the video chat by shouting profanity or by showing offensive images. Another post circulating on social media links to an article where a Zoom user in California filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday against Zoom for passing his data to Facebook. In this particular case, the user signed into Zoom by using the “Sign in with Facebook” shortcut.

We would like to remind our parent community that student safety and privacy is our number one priority, while students are in our classrooms and online. While no technology can ever be 100% secure, we believe, based on our admin settings, security and safety directions/resources shared with our teachers, and training provided to our teaching staff, our students’ safety and privacy are being upheld.

Zoom bombing isn’t new and has happened on many different web conferencing platforms for years when proper settings/setup aren’t being followed. The following information is provided to learn more about what we have done at the district level, what our teachers are doing at the classroom level, and what Zoom is doing at the platform level to address these concerns.

School District Settings

  • Having all parents “opt-in” for their child(ren) to participate in live web conferencing sessions: As previously communicated, all teacher-led web conferencing sessions related to teaching and learning are recorded for students who can not or do not wish to participate in live sessions.

  • Not having students create accounts: Students do not sign in to Zoom to access their teachers; they use a private, secured link given to them by their classroom teacher. So there is no need for students to create an account.

  • Not allowing participants to join the meeting before the teacher arrives

  • Require a password for instant meetings

  • Allow hosts to temporarily remove an attendee from the meeting.

  • Allow only teachers to share the screen by default

  • Allow only teachers to assign participants to breakout rooms

Teacher Practice

  • Teachers lock a meeting once the class session begins

  • Teachers use a waiting room and only allow in students from the class

  • Prevent participants from sharing their screen

  • Disable all video and audio when joining the session

  • Don't make meetings or classes public

  • Teachers can also require participants to use a password to join the session

  • Disable participant annotation

Zoom Platform Settings

  • Zoom reconfigured its iOS app when signing into Zoom using the “Sign in with Facebook” to not share user data with Facebook. (This was never an option for students.)

  • Zoom updated their privacy policy to be more clear and transparent around what data they collect and how it is used – explicitly clarifying that they do not sell users’ data, never have sold user data in the past, and have no intention of selling users’ data going forward.

  • Zoom set up a dedicated K-12 privacy policy.

  • Zoom changed the settings for education users enrolled in our K-12 program so virtual waiting rooms are on by default.

  • Zoom changed the settings for education users enrolled in our K-12 program so that teachers by default are the only ones who can share content in class.

We will continue to do our research and talk to industry experts to make sure we are doing what is best at this unique time. We are also monitoring all aspects of this new learning environment and will certainly make changes as needed. Building administrators will continue to enforce policies contained in the Garnet Valley Student Handbook/Code of Conduct as necessary and appropriate.

April 2, 2020

Dear School Community,

I hope that you’re hanging in there. I realize that between your work responsibilities and now your educational responsibilities, you’re a bit stressed. I also know that having information during these confusing times can help. Although I enjoy the video messages, there was just too much information to share today, and I was afraid a video may have become a really boring “mini-series” for you. I, consequently, thought an email was the best way to communicate.

As always, so that you can select the information that you need most, the message is structured as follows: (1) Two Week Instructional Calendar; (2) Parent Survey; (3) Kindergarten Pick-up; (4) Schoology and Seesaw; (5) Checking Email; (6) FAQs for Parents and Students; (7) Student Activities; and (8) Mini-Thon and GV-CTC Donations.

Two Week Instructional Calendar

As we progress through our first week of online learning, we are looking ahead while trying not to get “too far ahead”. There are several reasons why we believe two week “chunks” of time are best. Information continues to change quickly, and the more we have to change plans the more confused our school community becomes. Even though everyone has been patient and flexible, we want to provide as much clarity as possible. Also, we are only four days into our “new normal” and we want to be able to flex with the needs of our students, parents, and teachers. We believe two week windows of time are long enough to give us a good body of data while being short enough to make adjustments. To this end, the instructional calendar for the next two weeks is as follows:

Monday 4/6 Tuesday 4/7 Wednesday 4/8 Thursday 4/9 Friday 4/10

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning School Closed

Monday 4/13 Tuesday 4/14 Wednesday 4/15 Thursday 4/16 Friday 4/17

Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Online Learning Inservice Day

The first thing that you’ll notice is that we will not have spring break this year. We wanted to continue with our learning and provide as much structure as possible for our students. Additionally, since we made the decision to provide optional, educational opportunities for the first two weeks of the shutdown, we felt that it was important to limit interruptions. We, however, still wanted to provide a “day off” on Friday, April 10th for everyone to regroup, catch-up, and take a breath. The 10th will represent almost two full weeks of our “new normal” and it seemed like a good time for a break.

We are also including an inservice day on Friday, April 17th. Since our teachers are still adjusting to this new instructional delivery method, we wanted to provide them with continued professional learning in areas of self-identified need while also giving them time to plan, review, and grade student work for the following week.

Parent Survey

An important element of success of our virtual learning model is our parents. We, therefore, need your feedback. This feedback will help us to gauge students’ workload, troubleshoot issues that parents are facing, and improve our delivery methods. Please take the short parent survey by clicking here.

Kindergarten Pick-Up

The Concord Elementary School team will email a PDF of the Kindergarten Home Learning to all parents on Friday, April 3rd. For those of you who are able to print at home, please print the work which will include the next three weeks of instruction including Special Area classes. If you indicated on the survey that you are unable to print the PDF, please meet Dr. Penning and Mrs. Leach at Concord Elementary school this Friday, April 3rd between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. We kindly ask parents to remain in their cars and drive up to the circle in front of Concord. A GV staff member will check your name off of a list and provide you a packet. It is important to note that we only have copies for parents who indicated that they needed one.

Schoology and Seesaw

In the area of staying flexible and patient, we are all experiencing issues with Schoology and Seesaw. Please understand that these providers are experiencing the repercussions of the pandemic as well. In fact, we received an update yesterday from Schoology explaining their plan to accommodate the 400% increase in usage of their 20+ million users. They recognize that there have been service interruptions; consequently, they are (a) increasing monitoring, specifically looking for areas of the site that are causing performance degradation; (b) during peak usage periods throughout the day, turning off certain resource intensive processes that have minimal impact on their users; (c) implementing specific throttles that allow them to quickly mitigate potential performance issues in certain features; and (d) tuning their infrastructure to account for the much larger volumes. Schoology asserts that these accommodations are occurring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also continue to monitor the performance of Seesaw. After some initial glitches, the platform appears to be functioning much better. However, our technology department will continue to monitor both systems and will work closely with customer service staff to facilitate as seamless an experience as possible for our students.

Checking Email

Now more than ever, it’s vital that we are checking our emails. We ask that parents maintain accurate contact information in Alma at all times as all parent communication is sent using this data. Click Alma Links to find each school’s unique URL. If you have any problems accessing your Alma account please contact Garnet Valley Tech Support:

  • Bethel Springs Elementary, Liz Murphy liz@garnetvalley.org

  • Concord Elementary, Kyle Croll kyle@garnetvalley.org

  • Garnet Valley Elementary, Sally McGraw sally@garnetvalley.org

  • Garnet Valley Middle School, Patty Lafferty patty@garnetvalley.org

  • Garnet Valley High School, John Huber jhuber@garnetvalley.org

FAQs for Parents and Student

We continue to update information for parents and students. Perhaps the best resource to utilize when you have questions is our FAQ document. You can access it by clicking here.

Student Activities

The social and emotional well being of our students is extremely important to us and remains a priority. However, with a stay-at-home order in place for the foreseeable future, we do not have many options for some of the large-scale, social gatherings that are part of activities such as graduation, proms, concerts, field days, sports contests, etc. I realize that parents and students want definitive information regarding the district's plan to provide these opportunities, but at this time it is not possible for a multitude of reasons. In the meantime, our administrative team continues to brainstorm ways to provide student activities and events when we return to school.

Several of the questions I've received about activities were focused on graduation. The high school administrative team is meeting with the University of Delaware this week to discuss commencement. Simultaneously, Mr. Brandt and his team continue to explore various scenarios and options.

Mini-thon and GV-CTC

Please read this message from Madelyn Lederer, who is one of our amazing GVHS seniors and who leads Mini-Thon: One of the unfortunate consequences of school closures is the cancellation of many extracurricular activities and events our students have worked hard to plan. One of these events is Mini-THON, a student-led dance marathon at the High School that raises money for pediatric cancer research and treatment. In the past 12 years, Mini-THON students have raised over half a million dollars for Four Diamonds, and despite the cancellation of their in-person event, they remain committed to supporting the cause. Please click on their names and take 2 minutes to watch these videos from two of our Seniors, Madelynn Lederer and Derek Brown, who will explain more about the impact of Mini-THON and the importance of continuing to support Four Diamonds. Click here to donate, and thank you so much for your generosity.

GV-CTC has over $16,000. 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.

Take good care!

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

March 30, 2020

Dear School Community,

In an attempt to give parents experience with some of the conferencing and video platforms that our teachers will be using, I made a Loom video to update you on important information regarding the extension of the school closure. To access the video, please click here.

Important links mentioned in the video:

  • Click here to complete the Conference Permission form.

  • Click here to access the Online Instruction FAQs for Students and Parents.

  • Click here to donate to MiniThon.

  • Donate to GV-CTC by using its 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.

Have a great evening, and as always, thank you for your continued support!!!

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

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

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