Montgomery County Mandate - Letter from Head of School

A Message from the Head of School

Health and Safety - November 13, 2020

Regarding Montgomery County Mandate

Meadowbrook Parents,

First, let me thank you for your patience as we navigate the latest coronavirus issues together. I know some of you took the time to write to the Montgomery County Commissioners to voice your concerns prior to their decision today. As a follow-up to my email alert yesterday, I want to let you know that the Montgomery County Board has decided to mandate all schools offer ONLY virtual instruction starting on Monday, November 23rd to Sunday, December 6th.

While the recent surge of positive cases in the fall was somewhat anticipated, the assumption of more positive cases over the coming weeks is the driving force behind this decision. As a result, Montgomery County has voted that all K-12 schools close campus and only offer online alternatives for the time being. Since this decision does not impact our preschool and pre-K, we are going to consider options for that population. I will need to get a few questions answered around the permissibility of that first, but if nothing else all students will begin MeadowbrookVirtual classes on Monday, November 23rd or Tuesday, November 24th. We may need part of Monday the 23rd to prepare lessons, coordinate necessary technological needs, and pass out additional school supplies, etc. We will have an all-school ZOOM meeting/assembly at some point on 11/23 to go through some announcements and help children better understand what they should expect moving forward.
Second, I recognize some of you may feel the County's aggressive quarantine requirements are unnecessary. You may even feel these decisions are politically motivated. I can't speak to that theory, but I can suggest that we each deal with the aforementioned decision as best we can. At the moment, controlling this virus takes precedence over in-person schooling. The consequences of learning in this manner may have various long-term implications; however, the short-term frustration coupled with the logistical and economical challenges must take a backseat. And while I know many of us are unhappy with this "temporary" plan, it is in our best interest to support one another during this difficult time. 
As you can see, I am led to believe that this mandate will only be enforced through December 6th; however, there is another meeting planned for December 2nd to probably reassess and determine if this edict is to remain in effect through the holiday season, if not longer. Like so much that has happened in 2020, this expected timeline may change without much notice. Certainly, I feel it is best to have all our students on campus, but the experts at CHOP believe "it is time for schools to consider transitioning back to virtual learning to let the height of this wave pass.” Again, maybe this is a better alternative for older students, but we are clumped into the "school" category, and as such are affected by this decision.
There are certainly a lot of strong opinions floating around our region. A few excerpts from some CHOP information I researched gives a glimpse into why the decisions seem so draconian...
"We are now recommending that in areas with rapidly accelerating transmission rates (such as the Philadelphia region) schools, or families voluntarily, revert students to online learning beginning Nov. 16 until 7-10 days after Thanksgiving.
There might be a brief period for students to return to the classroom in December between holidays, but in areas now beset with runaway transmission, they would likely opt to continue virtually until January. 
Why this shift in guidance? Until now, protocols that reopened schools have been successful in preventing linked in-school transmission. Unfortunately, overall infection rates in children are now outpacing those of adults in many areas of the country. At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PCR test positivity rates this past weekend surpassed 15%, a number that nearly doubled in a week.
We believe that if families can hunker down for the next six weeks so we can ease the pressure currently being put on our hospitals, we can get to the other side of this crisis point."
 
On the other hand, Chester County Health Director, Chester County Commissioners, and Delaware County Council have all decided to hold firm in supporting schools that opt to stay open. Bucks County has made similar declarations. Let it be known that many educators and parents let their opinions be known during yesterday's "town hall-like" meeting. Here is an article sharing some of what was discussed during that meeting. Yet, we sit at the mercy of the policy makers, and now need to adhere to new rules. We apologize for this inconvenience and will do our best to advance our mission through MeadowbrookVirtual for as long as it is required.
Finally, there is a faculty meeting scheduled for Monday at 4 pm. I want to use that time to discuss opportunities with the staff before I confirm plans that impact all divisions and specials. Therefore, please wait for another message from me early next week with more specific details. I am sorry about this situation and thank you for your understanding.
Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Sincerely,

 

Michael J. Reardon
Head of School