August update on school reopening options and recommendation

The following is an update from Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter on plans to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year on Aug. 31:

Dear Penn Manor Families & Staff,

Since our last update on July 20, the school district has refined both our health and safety plan for reopening as well as the three potential modes of reopening for the school year. At 7 p.m. tonight, the board of school directors will meet to discuss and vote on these plans.

Tonight’s school board meeting will be broadcast live on the Penn Manor YouTube channel. You can watch the meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. Monday, here. The agenda for the meeting is accessible here.

The board will select one configuration from these options:  

Total reopening for all students and staff  — Students and staff would return with social distancing and health and safety precautions in place. Some students/families may opt to enroll in the Penn Manor Virtual School elementary, middle school, or high school program out of safety/health concerns.

Blended reopening — A balance of in-person and online learning for all students based on alternating days each week. Families may also select the Penn Manor Virtual School program out of safety/health concerns.

Total remote learning for all students — A greatly enhanced version of online learning from what students experienced at the end of the 2019-2020 school year delivered by Penn Manor teachers.

The administration will be recommending the blended reopening approach to the school board. Under this plan, students in kindergarten, first and second grade, certain special education classes, and students attending the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center (CTC) would attend school every day. The district will reconfigure classroom space to maintain appropriate social distancing for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Students in grades 3 through 12 would be divided into two groups to attend school two days a week (Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday) in small classes. All students in a household would follow the same schedule. On Wednesdays, all students would participate in live online instruction led by their teachers. On the two days they are not in school, students would work independently on assignments provided by their teachers. 

This recommendation is being made to reduce capacity in our school buildings to assure that appropriate social distancing may occur. Because children have not been in a school setting since March 13, this plan also will permit teachers to re-acclimate students to a classroom learning environment in smaller groups.

If this option is selected, the administration would re-evaluate the blended approach with the school board during its meeting on Monday, September 21. At that time, the administration would recommend either continuing with the blended reopening or making adjustments that may include bringing more students back for in-person instruction.

As we continue planning for the 2020-2021 school year, the key word is “flexibility.” All schools must be prepared to switch to any of the three modes. As we have learned, action by the Governor of Pennsylvania or state Department of Health may require us to modify our plans. 

To keep you informed on the school board’s decision, we will provide further information tomorrow, August 4. This communication will outline the board’s final decision on how to reopen schools on August 31 with additional details. You can expect to receive the update via email (also posted on the district website). We will also begin to provide updates on a weekly basis for the next four weeks.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we plan for a safe and successful reopening of our schools for 2020-2021.

Michael G. Leichliter, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Full links

School Board Meeting Live Video:

School Board Meeting Agenda