In order to protect the health and safety of our 13,000 students and 1,600 staff, Downingtown Area School District made the decision to begin 2020-21 school year online. The Chester County Health Department has recommended that districts do not bring students back into the buildings until after October 9.
Based on the current Chester County Health Department's report of COVID incident rates and positive PCR accounts, we are expected to have teachers back in the buildings on October 12, K-5 students on October 26 and 6 through 12 students on November 9.
The current plan is to bring students back in a staggered model with half of our students, A through L, in on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other half, M through Z, in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will be fully virtual, synchronous days for all K-12 students. Our low incidence special education pilot program will continue five days a week. Full details can be found in our Return to School Options document and the September 30 Staggered Model Board presentation.
I know this is not an ideal plan, but it is the only way we can achieve the six-foot social distance. With our current schedule, the fully online plan will have lasted approximately eight weeks. My hope is that this staggered model will last about the same amount of time, and we are able to go full in person, live instruction by the new year.
We will keep a close eye on the COVID-19 numbers and make sure we are within the appropriate thresholds. Should the numbers increase, we may have to push back our start dates, or, if we are already in person, we may be forced to close again.