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Return to In-Person Learning

Return to In-Person Learning
Posted on 01/02/2022

Dear School Community,

Happy New Year! Our plan for tomorrow continues to be in-person learning for all students. Although I definitely understand the angst of some parents regarding the increased transmission levels, the county superintendents continue to be reassured by our medical consultants that this new variant has behaved milder than earlier strains. Additionally, they support the fact that with vaccinations available for all school-age children and adults, the damage done by the virus is less negatively impactful than keeping students out of school. Here is the statement of support from CHOP and the PolicyLab–CLICK HERE


As we prepare for tomorrow, I wanted to reiterate a few items:

  • GVSD will follow the new CDC guidelines–Based on the CDC guidelines, if your children were positive and have no symptoms, or symptoms are resolving after 5 days, isolation is complete and they can return to school. They will wear a mask while at school and should also wear one outside of the home when around others for 5 additional days. However, if they still have a fever, continue to keep them home until 24 hours after the fever resolves. The CDC infographic that provides an overview of the guidance is attached here: Update Isolation and Quarantine CDC December 27.2021 (1).pdf  
  • Students will continue to eat lunch in the cafeteria–I realize that some parents will have concerns about lunches. As we’ve done throughout the pandemic, we continue to balance safety with pragmatism. We believe our layered approach to health mitigation has been working and will continue to implement it while making as many enhancements as possible. However, all enhancements are impacted by physical space, staffing, and developmental appropriateness.   
  • Staffing is a factor–Our teachers and support staff are in a word–awesome! They are not only committed to the health and safety of our students, but they are also being careful to focus on staying healthy so that they can be present for your children everyday. As of noon today, our employee absenteeism is at an extremely manageable level. With the continued high transmission rates coupled with the substitute teacher shortage, staffing will remain a factor that we have to monitor daily.
  • Perform daily symptom screening, and keep your child at home if s/he isn’t feeling well. The new variant presents itself much like a cold or allergies, so if you are experiencing sneezing, runny nose, and other upper respiratory symptoms, please stay home from school until you can get a test or use our testing clinic at Pennington. Please understand that we anticipate a high volume of activity at the clinic, so if you have access to home tests, please utilize them. If you choose to use our clinic, please come prepared with the required documents and expect delays. We have hired additional staff and added additional technology to make it run as efficiently as possible. Your patience is appreciated. 
  • Virtual learning will remain an option as we navigate the next phase of the pandemic. If staffing and/or transmission rates indicate that we need to go back to virtually learning, we are prepared to implement that option. However, we will not offer it as an optional mode of learning for students unless they are in isolation or quarantine.  We found that some...actually many...families were taking advantage of the flexibility of virtual learning for reasons unrelated to COVID. It became very difficult to track attendance, assignments, and we found that our teachers were having a great deal of difficulty being able to anticipate who and how many would be in school or at home. For this reason, we reserve the zoom option for isolation and quarantine only. Although we have set classes that are 100% virtual, parents made a commitment to remain in those classes for the year. In these classes, teachers can plan accordingly. Lessons are designed from a virtual learning perspective, attendance and other child accounting procedures are formalized through electronic means, as are assignments and grading
  • Wear your masks while in schools and on district transportation. I realize that some families do not like the idea of their children wearing masks and/or believe in their efficacy. However, with case counts as high as they are (717.60 per 100K as of December 30th), now is not the time to relax their use. I strongly believe that the time to reduce masking is on the horizon, but I think it’s prudent to wait until this current surge lessens.  
  • Continue to report positive cases to your children’s school nurse. Contact tracing is still one of the many strategies we employ to keep students in school. By failing to report cases, you may be putting others at risk. It’s important to note that even though the new variant seems to have less severe symptoms, we still have students and adults who are either unvaccinated or have underlying health conditions.

Have a great afternoon!


Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent 

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