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Back-to-School Task Force
Back-to-School Task Force est. 2020 around Titan Head logo
 

The Shaler Area School District created its Back-to-School 2020 Task Force to discuss and develop options for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. While it is unclear when and how school buildings will be fully open, the district is committed to exploring innovative and effective solutions to help provide a full and well-rounded curriculum in environments that are safe and compliant with current health guidelines.  Our mission is to fully prepare for a safe return of our school community.

The District has been and will rely on the guidance and lead of experts including our local and state public health officials, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Governor.

The Task Force is divided into seven subcommittees which identified existing challenges and needs in each of the committee focus areas and developed multiple plans and scenarios for the reopening of schools.

Subcommittees
  • Health & Wellness
  • Curriculum, Instruction & Assesessment
  • Special Education & Mental Health Services
  • School Operations
  • Technology
  • Transportation
  • Community Relations

Each subcommittee is made up of district administrators, teachers, parents, school board representatives, community members, and health and safety professionals. These groups worked over the summer to develop a complete Back-to-School Plan.


The Task Force focused on planning for three main scenarios for the reopening of school.
  • Traditional Model — This scenario will enable students to attend school Monday-Friday. Our schools will follow traditional hours unless directed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or a localized emergency occurs that would prevent the normal operation of school.
  • Hybrid Model — This scenario will enable students to take classes both in person at school as well as online. We recognize that some families may have certain health-related issues that present some obvious concerns. As such, we will do everything in our power to provide an option that will maximize safety protocols with a balance of personal support for all children, including those with elevated health risks.
  • Virtual Model — This scenario will enable students to learn online via our Virtual Learning model either 100 percent or during sporadic school closures as necessary. Students will not be expected to attend school in person. All of their classes will take place remotely with constant access and support from district staff.


Task Force Report and Health & Safety Plan
 
On August 6, 2020, the Shaler Area School Board of Directors approved the district’s Back-to-School Task Force Report and Health & Safety Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. As part of the district’s reopening plan, the board approved the following for the start of next school year:
  • All Shaler Area students will begin the first four weeks of school (through Friday, October 9, 2020) in a 100% virtual model (all at-home learning).
  • Additionally, the start of the school year will be delayed until Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The school board will approve a revised school calendar during its August 19 voting meeting. The last day of school will be Friday, June 11, 2021.
The 100% virtual instruction model provides the best option for staff to safely educate all 4,200 students, better assess remediation needs with all students on the same platform, and build and design a high-quality online program that can meet the needs of our students for the long-term. Delaying the start of the school year will provide our staff with additional time for professional development focusing on the virtual and hybrid learning models, 1:1 technology distribution and training for our students and families, and back-to-school orientation events for students.

A copy of the Back-to-School Task Force Report and Health & Safety Plan is available in the link to the right.

The district will remain in the 100% virtual model through October 9. With the case counts remaining consistent in Allegheny County, we will transition to the hybrid environment according to our announced timeline in our Back-to-School Task Force plan. The first day of hybrid learning is Monday, October 12.

In the hybrid model we will have a total of three cohorts of students.
  • Students in Cohort A will report for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday and engage in virtual instruction on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The first day of in-person instruction for Cohort A is October 12.
  • Students in Cohort B will report for in-person instruction on Thursday and Friday and engage in virtual instruction on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The first day of in-person instruction for Cohort B is October 15.
  • Students in Cohort C will not report for in-person instruction. Students in Cohort C will engage in virtual instruction Monday through Friday. Cohort C was previously referred to as “Titan Cyber Academy.”

School Breakfast and Lunch while in Virtual

Due to the increasing rise of community transmission rates of COVID-19 in Allegheny County, the district will be transitioning to virtual instruction for a three-week period beginning on Monday, November 23. The grab-n-go breakfast and lunch program will continue to provide meals for students while the district is in the 100% virtual model at three pick-up locations.


  • Shaler Area High School (main entrance at the front of the building) from 11 a.m. to noon

  • Christ Lutheran Church, in Millvale, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

  • Emmanuel Lutheran Church, in Etna, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

To participate in this program, complete the google form here: https://forms.gle/Y2xWyj2SvQDHGuhm9. Meals will be provided Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday’s meals will be provided on Friday.  


**For the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no distribution on November 26-27. Meals for Thursday through Sunday will be provided on Wednesday, November 25. Regular distribution at each location will resume on Monday, November 30.  

Student Travel

With the holiday season approaching, we know that many families are considering travel as part of their holiday plans. If you do choose to travel, please note that the state Department of Health regularly updates a list of states where there are high COVID-19 case counts. If you plan to travel to a state identified in this list, please contact your school nurse. It is recommended that your student quarantine for 14 days upon their return. During this time, your student will participate in school via the 100% virtual instruction model.

Inclement Weather

The safety of our students and staff is of utmost importance to us, so we take the decision to delay or cancel classes very seriously. During a winter weather event, we take into account the current road and weather conditions, temperature and wind chill as well as the day’s forecast. We also consult with the safety coordinators of our contracted bus companies who travel the roads in the district to assess their safety. Please be aware, school delays or cancellations also can occur for other unexpected reasons, such as an area water main break, power outage, or other significant event. Be sure that you have appropriate plans in place in the event the district should need to delay, cancel, or dismiss students early.

 

For this school year, we will use the following process:

  • In the event of inclement weather, a two-hour delay schedule may be used on in-person instruction days. If it is necessary to cancel in-person classes, all students will participate in virtual instruction on that day.

  • The decision to delay or cancel school will be made whenever possible before 6 a.m. and if possible, the night before. However, there are occasions that changing road and weather conditions will necessitate a later decision.

  • Families should check the district’s website, www.sasd.k12.pa.us, for important information such as delays and closings. Additionally, the district’s phone message (412-492-1200) will be updated to reflect any changes in the district’s schedule as well as the district’s social media accounts. 

  • Families also can choose to receive texts and/or emails through the district website by signing up for the “Email Newsletter” on the main webpage, adding a cell phone number and/or email address and choosing “school closings.”

  • In addition to the main phone number and website, Shaler Area notifies three local news stations: KDKA, WPXI, WTAE. Please note that the school district does not control how quickly the information is updated on-air. You may consider signing up for the e-mail alerts through the respective television stations.

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1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard     Glenshaw, PA. 15116     P 412-492-1200     F 412-492-1236
1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard Glenshaw, PA. 15116 P 412-492-1200 F 412-492-1236
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