Below is a transcript of a video message that Dr. Steinhauer recorded this morning and shared with families and staff.
Our current environment is not a simple one - the issues that we are all wrestling with are complex, dynamic, and fluid.
But one thing is certain - the Mt. Lebanon School District will begin teaching and learning in the fall.
Today I want to give you a clear and concise overview of two important elements of our effort to get back to school: (1) our Health and Safety Plan and our (2) Reopening Education Plan.
Let me first thank everyone who provided written feedback to the school board and administration following our presentation of the health and safety plan framework last week. Whether it was on our questionnaires or through email, we read every single one. You were heard, and your comments have led to a greater understanding of your concerns and perspectives.
As we move closer to the beginning of the new school year, I know there is a growing sense of concern across our school community, and throughout communities in the Commonwealth. It’s this critical question: What’s the best way to return to teaching and learning safely?
Is it a return to our brick and mortar schools or return in a fully on-line environment or is it something in between? Uncertainty and ambiguity define our lives right now while information and guidance is emerging rapidly. The COVID environment today will be different from the COVID environment tomorrow or next week or even next month.
I want to start with our Health and Safety Plan.
The framework provided in our Health and Safety Plan is just that - a framework from which we will determine how education will look if and when we return in-person.
The Health and Safety Plan Framework was guided by input from over 100 teachers, custodians, secretaries, parents, principals, nurses, counselors, students, transportation providers, administrators, and school board members.
In addition, our plan was created with consultation from the Allegheny County Health Department to carefully align to Allegheny County and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines, and has been reviewed by our school physician and a team from St. Clair Hospital.
Be assured that the Health and Safety Plan will guide our mitigation efforts if and when we return to in-school and in-person learning.
Next, I’d like to discuss our Reopening Education Plan
Our Reopening Education Plan gives further details of the options and strategies that may be used for instruction and learning. As circumstances permit, our families will have multiple choices based upon the specific conditions at the time of reopening.
These options include:
Full, five-day, in-building, in-the-classroom learning experience, with careful adherence to all the health and safety guidelines.
This means utilizing every mitigation strategy as outlined in our Health and Safety Plan including face coverings, cleaning, adherence to physical distancing, and every other strategy to limit exposure.
Full on-line learning program - we’re calling this the Mt. Lebanon Cyber Learning Academy.
The Mt. Lebanon Cyber Learning Academy offers families the choice for full-time, fully online instruction delivered by Mt. Lebanon teachers. Mt. Lebanon teachers will provide online instruction employing standards based curriculum from Edgenuity - a proven source of online curriculum. Mt. Lebanon teachers will customize the courses by adding and editing resources, strategies, vidoes, and assessments to reflect Mt. Lebanon School District learning standards. Additionally, some courses may need to be created from the ground up using the Edgenuity platform to ensure consistency. In the Cyber Learning Academy, the robust instruction will include both synchronous and asynchronous learning.
If circumstances require the need for reduced student attendance in our schools, we may need to transition to a hybrid learning environment - meaning a schedule where students have some in-school learning and some on-line learning from home.
If circumstances dictate full closure of all in-school learning, students will transition to a fully remote learning program.
This fully remote learning program will be a continuation of regular in-class instruction delivered through remote means and will include both synchronous and asynchronous instruction.
Both a revised Health and Safety Plan and a draft Reopening Education Plan will be available on Monday, July 27th at 3:00 p.m. on our website.
I know we all start from the same place - the health and safety of our children and staff is sacred. Each family will make the decision that is best for them and that must be respected.
Whether it is in-person or online, we are still clearly aimed at meeting our mission to provide the best education possible for each and every student.
There is no doubt that many decisions still need to be made regarding the reopening. The COVID circumstances will dictate our ultimate decision. You should take great comfort in knowing that you have an experienced, highly trained, thoroughly committed, and immensely capable team of educators leading our effort.
Lastly, I have two important updates to share with you:
We have made the decision to delay the start of school for students by one week. Our new start date for students is Monday, August 31. This will allow for more planning for the return of our students in whatever mode that may be - online, in-person or any plan in between. This will also give us the opportunity to provide more professional development for our high capacity faculty and staff.
We are extending the deadline for the commitment to the Mt. Lebanon Cyber Learning Academy from August 1 to August 8 to give you more detailed descriptions of the program to help you make your decision.
These have been enormously challenging days. I am always grateful for the opportunity to hear from you and the opportunity to share our thinking.
As I have said before, we have enormous capacity and we are a tough, smart, and resilient community. I believe our best days are just around the corner.
Timothy J. Steinhauer
Superintendent of Schools
Reopening Education Tentative Timeline (more details will be posted Monday)
July 27 - The revised Health and Safety Plan and draft Reopening Education Plan will be posted on the District website.
July 29 - Faculty and Staff will be presented an overview of the draft Reopening Education Plan
July 29 - The School Board will consider approval of the Health and Safety Plan for if and when students return to in-person instruction at a Special Board Meeting. (Zoom meeting)
July 30 - Mt. Lebanon Families will be presented an overview of the draft Reopening Education Plan and will be able to submit questions. (Zoom meeting)
August 8 - Families must submit commitment notification for the Mt. Lebanon Cyber Learning Academy participation. (Mt. Lebanon Cyber Academy Commitment Form)
August 31 - First day for student instruction.