If a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, come in contact with someone who has tested positive, or become ill at school, District staff will follow processes developed in conjunction with Penn Medicine, WellSpan Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). Specific initial protocols will be used in each unique situation:

Daily Health Screening

 

Reopening FAQ

 

Blue Ridge Learning From Home – Free Internet Service*

*Current Blue Ridge internet customers, those actively enrolled in the Blue Ridge Spring Learn from Home offer, or those disconnected due to non-payment are not eligible for this offer.

2020-2021 Online Learning and Modified Traditional Options

2020-2021 School Reopening Health & Safety Plan


Districtwide COVID-19 Update – November 20

We are thankful for the emails recognizing the efforts of our staff to engage our students in the various instructional modes we have offered since the start of the school year. As we communicated earlier this week, the District is continually monitoring case information and considering if a shift to online learning for all students is in the best interests of the health, safety, and instructional needs of our staff and students.

Current case data as of the end of the day today shows only eight active cases: two at the High School, one at the Middle School, two at the Intermediate School, two at Fulton, and one at Clay. There are no active cases at Akron or Highland.

This week, we have evaluated more data and believe that the best decision at this time is to move Ephrata High School students to online learning for the week after Thanksgiving (December 1-4).

Several factors weighed heavily in the decision to move students in Grades 9-12 to online learning in a preemptive effort to increase the chance of staying open through the remainder of December.

  • To date, over 230 students and staff members at Ephrata High School have been quarantined due to COVID cases, which is more than the other District buildings combined.
  • The High School has had the highest number of quarantined students per case than any other building at 18. This means that on average, 18 people at the High School are quarantined every time we have a case. The average for the rest of the District is eight students per case.
  • The High School seven-period schedule means students comingle more, which makes it more difficult to reduce their exposure when a COVID positive person enters the building.
  • Data from Penn Medicine/LGH indicate that the number of cases seen in people between the ages of 15 and 19 are significantly higher than younger school-age children.
  • High school students are more socially independent, may have drivers’ licenses, and are less supervised when they gather outside of school.
  • High school students benefit more from independent, online learning than other grade levels benefit.

The current data does not warrant the shift to online learning for students in Kindergarten through Grade 8. However, we encourage you to monitor your email throughout the Thanksgiving break in case a change becomes necessary. If you have a child in Kindergarten through Grade 8, please make plans in the event we need to shift additional grade levels to online learning. We continue to be dedicated to offering the Modified Traditional Instructional Mode as long as we safely can.

Recently, several authorities, medical and otherwise, have commented on the safety of in-person instruction.

  • On Thursday, a joint statement of Northeastern governors, including Pennsylvania Governor Wolf stated, “Medical research as well as the data from Northeastern states, from across the country, and from around the world make clear that in-person learning is safe when the appropriate protections are in place, even in communities with high transmission rates.”
  • This sentiment was also emphasized by our partners at Penn Medicine/LGH last Friday when they stated, “Schools have done a tremendous job at limiting in-school spread. The community is more of a threat to them than they are to the community.”
  • At a press conference on Thursday, November 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield stated, “For kids K-12, one of the safest places they can be…is to remain in school.CLICK HERE to view his press briefing.

These next few weeks may be the biggest challenge of the year so far. If we all do our part over the Thanksgiving break — avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, maintaining 6 feet of distance, washing hands, and continually monitoring for symptoms — we can continue to offer the multiple instructional mode options as we have been. If we become less vigilant about these safety measures and allow an increase in COVID-19 cases within our schools, we may be forced to shift to online learning for all students.

We remind you of the importance of screening your child daily for COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical attention as needed. If your child is identified as a close contact due to activities outside of school, is quarantined, or tests positive for COVID-19, please inform District officials by using the newly established COVID reporting email address at COVIDReport@easdpa.org. Additionally, it is important that we all do our best to follow the orders released earlier this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Health about face coverings and traveling out of the state, which you can reference with the links below.

Thank you for working together with the District to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and staff.

Districtwide COVID-19 Update – November 18

The District is committed to continuing to offer a variety of instructional modes as we have done since the start of the school year. The feedback from families has been predominantly positive, and parents have indicated that the instructional options are helping to meet their family’s needs. However, the increase in COVID+ cases that we have seen in the last few weeks, and the complications they have produced, is causing us to face the reality that we may need to, at some point, move to online. There are three situations which may cause a shift to online learning for all students.

  1. As a directive from the Governor or the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH)  –  The DOH has indicated they do not plan a forced closure at this time. However, they are recommending it due to the current COVID testing positivity rate in Lancaster County.
  1. As a response to a sudden increase in the number of active cases, a series of connected cases, or an inability to properly staff a building or the entire District  –  The District has seen a gradual increase in COVID+ cases among students and staff. There are currently nine active cases, five of which will move to inactive by Friday. The biggest challenge currently facing the District is the number of unfilled positions due to staff members who test positive or must quarantine due to close contact with someone who has tested positive. We are currently averaging over 20 unfilled teacher positions over the past five days, and a shortage of substitutes is making it increasingly difficult to properly staff buildings, from classrooms to custodial to Food Service.
  1. As prevention against a potential outbreak due to a potential increase in COVID+ cases  –  Thanksgiving, despite strong warnings against it, could bring together friends and family, which has caused many health experts to be concerned this will lead to a spike in positive COVID cases in early December. In a typical year, cases of the flu and other communicable illnesses spike after the Thanksgiving holiday. Over the past six months, national and some local data show a spread of coronavirus in the week or so after holidays like July 4th, Labor Day, and Halloween. Additionally, most colleges and universities have adjusted their schedules so that students will return home for Thanksgiving and not return to campus until after the winter break. This adds unavoidable potential of the virus entering the homes of students and staff.

The Montgomery County (PA) Office of Public Health recently directed all schools in their county to move to virtual/remote learning only and suspend extracurricular activities for the 2-week period from Monday, November 23 through Sunday, December 6. They believe it is a proactive approach that will ultimately give schools a stronger chance at remaining in-person throughout the rest of December.

Presently, the Ephrata Area School District is considering a shift to online learning for all students. District families will be informed by the end of this week if the District is going to switch to online instruction for all students for the week after Thanksgiving. We wish to emphasize that it is important to make plans now if a switch to online learning for your child would require you to adjust your work schedule or find daytime supervision for your child.

We continue to monitor data, consult with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and prioritize the health and safety of students and staff. Please know that if we do cancel the Modified Traditional, in-person, mode of instruction for any length of time, it is in what we believe to be the best interests of our students and staff.

It is important for parents and students to stay vigilant in monitoring their own health for COVID symptoms and continuing to use prevention strategies when away from school to reduce the spread of the virus. Remember:  If your child is having any symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, do not send him or her to school or any other group activity.

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) issued new COVID-19 orders. We are gathering more information and clarification about how these new orders will impact District activities. In the meantime, you may want to check out the DOH information about these new orders at the following links.

  • Universal Face Coverings Order FAQs
    • The District Health and Safety Plan approved by the School Board in July and AVAILABLE HERE mandates face coverings for all students and staff. Exceptions include “mask breaks” of less than 10 minutes or while eating.
  • COVID-19 Information for Travelers FAQs
    • Anyone traveling out-of-state from Pennsylvania must obtain a negative COVID test 72 hours before returning to the state or must quarantine for 14 days upon return.

We recognize the timing of this COVID order for travel does not come at a good time and may be difficult to adhere to immediately. If you have travel plans outside of Pennsylvania while this order is in effect, please contact your building principal to work out a plan for your trip.

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate through this unpredictable school year together.

Districtwide COVID-19 Update – November 11

This e-mail is to share some information relevant to the current spike in COVID-19 cases being seen across the country and within Lancaster County.  At a meeting held Monday with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Lancaster County COVID-19 case data were reviewed along with information about the county moving from Moderate to Substantial in the Pennsylvania classification system.  While it was suggested to more closely monitor the weekly data prior to districts making any significant changes, it was also recommended that every district across the county move to online learning for all students.  It is important to note that COVID-19 case data is not tracked by school district boundaries.

The following represents up-to-date information – by the numbers – for the students, staff, and visitors of the Ephrata Area School District this school year:

  • 4,900  –  The approximate number of students, staff, and support employees who are involved physically or virtually on a daily basis for school operations
  • 48  –  The number of school days so far this year
  • 27  –  The number of COVID+ cases within a building or district activity since the first day of school in late August
  • 10  –  The number of active cases in the District, as of the end of the day today (3 moving to inactive by this Friday)
  • 3  –  The number cases indicating that close contact at school activities MAY have contributed to the spread of COVID-19

Based on the District COVID+ case data, we do not plan to shift to online learning for all Ephrata Area School District students at this time.  We will continue to monitor case data and consult with the Pennsylvania Department of Health while we proceed with offering our current instructional mode options:  Modified Traditional, Online Learning, and the Ephrata Virtual Academy.  Additionally, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety measures put in place to protect students and staff from spreading the virus and maintain regular communication with the families and staff in each building when cases occur.

It is important for parents and students to stay vigilant in monitoring their own health for symptoms and continuing to use prevention strategies when away from school. We do not want to learn the hard way about how important monitoring symptoms, using face coverings, and maintaining 6-feet of social distance can be to control the spread of COVID-19.

Remember:  If your child is having any symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, do not send them to school or any other group activity.

While we are hopeful to be able to continue to offer our instructional mode options for the remainder of the year, the reality is that there may be a time when we see the need or are directed to move to online learning for all students.  We recognize that schools not being physically open for students causes a significant hardship for many families.  This is one of the primary reasons why we are committed to offering the Modified Traditional option for as long as it is safe.  However, we do suggest that families begin to consider options and make potential plans if their child’s school moves to online only.

Thank you for your continued efforts to monitor your child for symptoms and for your flexibility as we continue to navigate through this unpredictable school year.

New Athletic Spectator Information – October 8

Earlier this week, Governor Wolf released new guidelines on gatherings, including athletic events. The limits are based on a percentage of venue capacity, whether inside or outside, and offer us the opportunity to allow more fans to attend events and cheer on our Mountaineers.

The remaining athletic events in the fall season will follow these guidelines. Face coverings and social distance will be enforced in all settings in accordance with existing state recommendations.

Football

  • Approximately 475 spectators will be permitted, which will include the homecoming court and senior students.
    • There will be a sign-up sheet for seniors who wish to attend.
    • Ticket distribution to the families of our players, cheerleaders, and marching band members will be handled by the Athletic Director and Head Coach / Director for each respective group.
  • No visiting fans will be permitted.

Girls’ Volleyball

  • Approximately 105 spectators will be permitted, including spectators for the visiting team.
    • Ticket distribution to the families of our players will be handled by the Athletic Director and Head Coach.

Cross Country

  • No spectators will be permitted at the League Championships on October 20 and 21 at Ephrata Middle School.

Field Hockey and Girls’ and Boys’ Soccer

  • The number of spectators at these sporting events has not been strongly impacted to date by state guidelines. These new calculations allow us to welcome 300 guests to these events.

Livestreaming of some athletic events is available on the EASD EVENTS LIVESTREAM. In addition, Blue Ridge 11 will be broadcasting a variety of sporting events within their coverage area.

PLEASE NOTE:  Other school districts may have different rules in place. Please be sure you understand those rules if you choose to be a spectator at an away event when permitted.

 

Athletic Spectators – September 25

Thank you for your support, especially throughout this first month of the school year. We have had many opportunities to apply our Life Ready Graduate traits of perseverance, adaptability, resilience, and grit! Our student-athletes have faced additional challenges with the delayed start of their season and are excited about the return of fall sports.

While the hard limitations to the number of spectators who may attend athletic competitions was lifted earlier this week, we remain focused on doing our best to provide an opportunity for parents and family members to attend events in person, while continuing to follow the social distancing requirements provided by the state.

After measuring the stands and additional spaces available, we believe we can safely accommodate up to approximately 400 spectators at War Memorial Field and still maintain six feet of social distance.  This spectator count is in addition to the players, cheerleaders, band, coaches and officials. Ticket distribution to the families of our student athletes will be handled by the Athletic Director and Head Coach / Director for each respective group.

Additional guidelines for all fall sports are available HERE.

All others may view the game via the EASD EVENTS LIVESTREAM beginning at 7:00 PM.

 

Instructional Mode Feedback – September 18

The purpose of this communication is to invite feedback from parents/guardians on our instructional modes being offered by the District. As we stated in our communication over the summer, we will continue to monitor how the various options are meeting the learning needs of students and families.

The following surveys are intended to address some basic feedback on how things are going with your child(ren) and to help inform some potential adjustments being considered to improve our ability to engage all students in high-quality learning. Please complete the appropriate survey for the grade-level of your child(ren). If you have more than one child, please complete a separate survey for each child.

Finally, these first three weeks of the year have been challenging for everyone. If you are happy with how things are going for your child(ren) and want to give a Shout-Out to someone who is making a difference for your son/daughter, please SHARE A POSITIVE COMMENT about that staff member to help make his/her day. This is certainly optional but greatly appreciated if you have the time.

COVID-19 Update – September 18

We are officially three weeks into the 2020-2021 school year! The reality of being able to have students in our buildings, learning together and independently through technology, and engaging in extracurricular activities, continues to energize our staff members. Additionally, the collective efforts to follow the Health and Safety Plan measures put in place throughout the schools and community have helped us avoid having to close down or quarantine entire classes, bus routes, sports schedules, or entire building operations. THANK YOU!

Our ability to address individual issues related to COVID-19, in cooperation with our medical expertise partners at the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and Penn Medicine/LGH, has helped us maintain the consistency of our programs while minimizing opportunities for the virus to spread. As stated in our e-mail on Tuesday, September 15 (available HERE), “As every COVID-related incidence is unique, we are doing our best to balance confidentiality requirements with direct communication to the persons who need to take action to prevent further spread of the virus. We will continue to follow the guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education and will notify the appropriate individuals as each case requires. You will be contacted immediately if your child has been in close contact (within six-feet for fifteen minutes or more) with someone who tests positive and is therefore, potentially, at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.” This statement remains accurate. 

Additionally, we believe we can continue to protect the confidentiality of the individuals within our district while providing more information related to COVID-19 cases to our parents and guardians. Moving forward, if any student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, we will notify all parents/guardians in the building(s) where that individual attends. Upon direction from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), a period of 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms (or the date of the COVID test for asymptomatic individuals) is used to identify “close contacts” for quarantine notifications and will also serve as the timeframe we use to identify cases for building-wide notifications.

Using these new criteria and looking back over the first three weeks of the school year, we had one case of COVID-19 in the District. It was on September 10 at the high school. In this case, we immediately consulted our medical partners at the DOH and Penn Medicine/LGH and notified individuals who had been in close contact with the COVID+ person to provide quarantine instructions.

In the future, all students identified as close contacts will continue to receive a phone call notifying them of the situation, and now, in addition, all parents/guardians of students at the building where the case occurred will receive email notification of the situation, including confirmation that their child was not a close contact.

Thank you for continuing to monitor your children for COVID symptoms and for adhering to the Health and Safety procedures designed to eliminate spreading the virus.

Notification When a COVID+ Situation Arises – September 15

The effects of COVID-19 have impacted schools nationwide in countless ways, most recently seen locally with the closings of two Lancaster County schools. As a public school district serving over 4,200 students, Ephrata Area School District is not immune to this impact.  

There is a series of steps that need to be taken if someone tests positive for COVID-19, has been in close contact with someone who has (within six-feet for fifteen minutes or more), or shares a household with a COVID+ person. While these are all new processes for the District to manage, we are fortunate to have expertise and guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Penn Medicine/LGH, a partnership formed with all Lancaster County school districts.

As every COVID-related incidence is unique, we are doing our best to balance confidentiality requirements with direct communication to the persons who may need to take action to prevent further spread of the virus. We will continue to follow the guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education and will notify the appropriate individuals as each case requires. You will be contacted immediately if your child has been in close contact (within six-feet for fifteen minutes or more) with someone who tests positive and is therefore, potentially, at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

Additionally, there may be times when students are absent or are asked to isolate for a variety of reasons, including having flu-like symptoms, which may later be determined to be unrelated to COVID-19. Our school nurses and building administrators monitor attendance and medical excuses daily to ensure all recommendations for isolation or quarantine are followed.

All COVID-related communication and resources, including the flow-charts we use to guide our responses as situations arise, can be found on the COVID-19 page of our website.

 

Free Meals – September 10

The Ephrata Area School District has been approved to provide free meals for all children ages 18 and under through December 31, 2020. Therefore, effective Monday, September 14, all breakfast and lunch meals will be free for all students every school day, regardless of income.

Modified Traditional and Blended Modes – Students in District buildings will continue through cafeteria lines as normal at breakfast and lunch, but meals will be free. Lunch choices include both hot and cold options daily. Students in Grades 7-12 will continue to be able to pick up meals on Tuesdays at 2:30 PM for online learning on Wednesdays. If your child is attending school within a building on Wednesdays, meals will be provided as usual. A la carte purchases, including beverages, double meals, snacks, etc. will still be available for purchase with cash or account funds.

Blended and Online Modes – Meal pick-ups will continue on Wednesdays from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM:  Three breakfasts and three lunches for Blended learners and five breakfasts and five lunches for Online learners.  Meal counts will be reduced in weeks when there are less than five instructional days. A meal sign-up link will continue to be emailed weekly for Blended and Online Learners to use if they intend to pick up meals on Wednesdays. The sign-up link is applicable to all children age 18 and under, including younger children who are not yet enrolled in the District. Meals are prepared based upon the sign-up numbers received, so please sign up each week if you intend to pick up meals. Sign-ups will close on Tuesdays at noon and reopen on Thursdays at noon. PLEASE NOTE: The Wednesday pickup location will now be at the Ephrata High School gymnasium entrance. Please enter the parking lot off Oak Boulevard by the tennis courts and proceed to the awning. 

We recommend that families who believe they would qualify for free/reduced meals complete an application at www.schoolcafe.com to ensure a seamless transition within the National School Lunch Program when the free meal program ends on December 31.

If you have any questions, please contact the Food Service Department at 717-721-1400, extension 11302.

Fall Sports Update – September 9

Thank you for your ongoing cooperation, support, and flexibility during the first days of the school year.  We recognize the challenges of getting everything up and running this year, and we are still adjusting to some new routines.  The need for new routines also affects our extracurricular programs at EASD.  Direction from the Governor, State Departments of Health and Education, and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has provided guidelines for extracurricular events that are safe for student athletes, game officials, and all spectators. 

Our District will be adhering to the following guidelines for the fall sports season, which comply with the PIAA rules governing competition and the Governor’s most recent guidelines:

  • Indoor events are limited to 25 people.
    • Girls’ volleyball is the only indoor sport in the fall season. Due to the number of participants, coaches, referees, game officials, and lines persons, the 25-person limit is met. No home or away spectators will be permitted. (All girls’ volleyball games will be livestreamed.)
  • Outdoor events are limited to 250 people. 
    • For football, only home team spectators will be permitted. Due to the number of players, coaches, referees, and game officials in attendance at football games, the 250-person limit is nearly met. It will be up to each home team to determine a protocol for allowing home spectators to attend the games. At EASD, we will distribute tickets to families of our student athletes for each of our four home football games.  The number of tickets distributed will be determined after the total number of players, coaches, and officials is established so as not to exceed the 250-person limit.   (All football games will be livestreamed.)
    • For outdoor fall sports other than football, the contests will occur without much interruption. The athletic directors of both teams will ensure the number of participants, coaches, referees, game officials, and spectators does not exceed the 250-person limit. 

Everyone attending athletic events, including coaches, officials, athletes on the sidelines, school staff, and spectators age 2 and older, must wear a face covering (mask or face shield), unless the event is outdoors and a social distance of at least six feet can be maintained.  However, attendance at all events is subject to appropriate behavior and adherence to the District Health and Safety Plan. Anyone who refuses to adhere to the guidelines will be asked to leave. 

Lancaster and Lebanon County athletic directors are working to ensure that livestreams of sporting events will be available for as many fall sporting events as possible. Additionally, Blue Ridge 11 will be broadcasting a variety of sporting events within their coverage area. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Other school districts may have different rules in place. Please be sure you understand those rules if you choose to be a spectator at an away event when permitted.

Finally, we are aware of potential legislation that could change some of these parameters for fall sports.  If the rules changes, we will continue to work diligently and adjust procedures to reflect current requirements. 

Thank you for your support of our student athletes!

 

Message to Families – August 28

We hope you are enjoying these last moments of summer. The start of the new school year is days away, and we are excited for the opportunity on Monday to welcome students back in-school and online.

We would like to share several final reminders…

  • Health Screenings Prior to Leaving Home: As part of the state requirement to participate in any instructional or extracurricular activity, students and District employees must complete a health screening at home before school every day. We are offering a HEALTH SCREENING TOOL to monitor any symptoms.
  • Parent Portal: Please check the PARENT PORTAL regularly for important information, including busing and class schedules, student grades and attendance, and contact information for parents/guardians and emergency contacts. Some information is only available via the Parent Portal website, not the app.
  • Technology Support: For help with urgent technology needs, please call 717-721-1451. For help with non-urgent needs, please email support@easdpa.org.
  • Face-Covering Requirements: Students must wear face coverings at all times while on the bus and in school, even when six feet of social distancing can be achieved. This guidance DOES allow for “face-covering breaks” to occur for up to 10 minutes when students are spaced at least six feet apart.
  • Instructional Mode Changes: We are asking that families plan for their children to remain in their current instructional mode for at least the first several weeks of the school year. We recognize changing health and/or educational needs may require a switch to a different learning mode. To make any changes, contact the building principal as soon as the need arises. 
  • Meal Pick-Up: Families with children in the Blended or Online Learning modes can CLICK HERE for information about sign-up and pick-up of breakfasts and lunches.

Our Life Ready Graduate traits have helped us throughout the spring and summer to be adaptable, flexible, and resilient as we worked together toward creating instructional modes to engage all students. I am incredibly proud of the preparation of our staff to be ready to start the year this Monday.

Thank you for your continued flexibility, patience, and support!   

GO MOUNTS!

 

Message to Families – August 25

We understand that a lot of information has been shared with you throughout the summer, and it may be difficult to keep it all straight. The purpose of this letter is to organize technology related topics to ease the transition into the school year. 

EASD Device Pick-Up – All devices for students are being distributed by each school. If you do not have a device for your child(ren) or have not signed up for a time, please call you child(ren)’s school.   

Parent and Student Technology Support – We are pleased to announce the launch of our Parent and Student Technology Support Page with over 60 support videos and additional resources to support parents and students on some of the most common programs we use in the District. These “how to” videos and helpful resources are a great starting point if you are having difficulty with specific software or hardware. Additionally, the District continues to have a support email (support@easdpa.org) for individuals experiencing technology issues. We are also offering a support help line for families to call when emergency issues arise that interfere with learning. Parents/guardians and students can call

717-721-1451 to speak with an EASD staff member who will help expedite technology support. This phone line will only be monitored during the first few weeks of school to help alleviate initial technology issues that may arise. We encourage all families to use these resources to make their experiences with technology as seamless as possible. 

Microsoft Teams – This year, all virtual connections with classes will run through Microsoft Teams. 

Student devices should already have Teams installed. If Teams is not installed, please see this Teams Support Section, also available on the Parent and Student Technology Support Page located on the District website. If students are prompted to sign into Teams, they will use their assigned email address (StudentIDNumber@gomounts.org) and password. If you are not aware of your student’s password, this can be found on the PowerSchool Parent Portal under School Information. Students will use the calendar in Teams to join class meetings that are prescheduled by their teachers. 

Practice Run on Thursday, August 27 – In preparation for our first day of school on Monday, August 31, we are encouraging students to connect with their teachers on Thursday, August 27. Information regarding the schedule has been shared by the building principals. Students who participate in this virtual connection with their teachers will be provided a coupon for a Dairy Queen treat! At the time specified by your child(ren)’s teacher, students should open Teams and navigate to the calendar in the menu. Within the calendar, students should see their classes. Meetings can be joined directly from the calendar. This will be the same way online learners will join their classes from home during the school year.   

Device Accidental Damage Warranties – EASD is offering accidental damage warranties for student devices. This warranty covers one accidental damage incident over the course of the year for students. The cost of this warranty is $30 per device. We strongly encourage all families to participate in the $30 accidental damage warranty, as damage to student devices can easily exceed $150 for things like a broken screen. Families who qualify for free or reduced meals are eligible for a reduced damage warranty rate. Purchases of this warranty will be made available through our K-12 Payment Program next week. The option for warranties will be open until September 30, 2020 and will cover a device through September 2021.  

PowerSchool Parent Portal – If you have not yet set up a PowerSchool Parent Portal account, please set it up as soon as possible. It is required to obtain important information, including busing and class schedules, student grades and attendance, and contact information for parents/guardians and emergency contacts. Please continue to check the Parent Portal on a regular basis, as changes to some bus schedules have occurred since last week. 

Thank you for your support and patience, and best wishes on the upcoming school year. 

 

Message to Families – August 21

As we move into the last week of the summer break, we wanted to remind families of a few items related to the different instructional modes and share some additional resources and information related to this unique school year we are about to begin.

  • Final Numbers for Instructional Modes: One of our objectives in planning for the school year was to offer families multiple INSTRUCTIONAL MODES to fit the various health, safety, and learning needs of our students.  The instructional mode you have selected is available in the PARENT PORTAL.  Districtwide, the approximate breakdown of each mode selected is:
    • Modified Traditional – 68%
    • Online Learning – 19%
    • Blended – 7%
    • Ephrata Virtual Academy (EVA) – 6%
  • Face Coverings: Due to new requirements announced by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education early this week, students must now wear face coverings at all times while in school, even when six feet of social distancing can be achieved. This guidance DOES allow for “face-covering breaks” to occur for up to 10 minutes when students are spaced at least six feet apart. These requirements also include the need for a medical diagnosis for anyone who has an existing health condition that impedes his/her ability to wear a face covering. A COMPLETED EXEMPTION FORM is required. If your child’s face covering of choice is a mask, HERE are some helpful tips to ensure proper wear and care.
  • Health Screenings Prior to Leaving Home:As part of the state requirement to participate in any instructional or extracurricular activity, students and District employees must complete a health screening at home before school every day. We are offering THIS HEALTH SCREENING TOOL to monitor any symptoms.
  • Practice Run – Thursday, August 27: All students are strongly encouraged to participate in this event, regardless of their chosen instructional mode. It is important for ALL students to familiarize themselves with learning online from home in the event a future school closure would be necessary. More detailed information will be coming (if it has not already) from your child(ren)’s building principal. As a “sweet” incentive, all students who participate will receive a certificate donated by the Ephrata Dairy Queen for a free Dairy Queen Blizzard!
  • Online Learning Reminder: For students engaging in the Online Learning or Blended Learning modes, laptop/iPad cameras must be switched on when instruction is happening during the school day, as it is an important instructional tool to help the student and teacher communicate.
  • Video Content: All video content being streamed for at-home learners is for educational purposes only and is the property of the Ephrata Area School District. As we enter the shared learning space online, it is crucial we protect the confidentiality of all students.  THIS PENDING SCHOOL BOARD POLICY about live streaming from school provides more detailed information.
  • COVID-19 Flow Charts: If a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, come in contact with someone who has tested positive, or become ill at school, District staff will follow processes developed in conjunction with Penn Medicine, WellSpan Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). Specific initial protocols will be used in each unique situation:
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Our FAQ WEBPAGE is regularly updated with new questions and answers based upon current information.

Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but this is the first school year we have ever begun during a global pandemic. It is the first time we are using technology to engage students who are learning at home together with students learning at school. It is the first time we are serving breakfast and lunch while maintaining a safe social distance. It is the first time within our present reality for recesses, physical education classes, tests, quizzes, collaborative learning, bus rides, and all routine school activities.

Trust that we are working hard and doing our very best to prepare for this unprecedented challenge.  We have planned for what we can control and are ready for what may come this school year.

Just as we will continue to offer patience, flexibility, and grace to students and families as we all step into the unknown, we ask that you continue to provide the same in return. With your support, we are optimistic about the 2020-2021 school year and are looking forward to a safe and engaging reopening.

 

 

Message to Families – August 17

As we continue to prepare for students’ first day of school on Monday, August 31, this email is to provide additional information on recommendations for students or staff who come in contact with COVID+ individuals, recent guidance from the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education and to encourage students’ participation in the online learning “Practice Run” on Thursday, August 27.

Penn Medicine is providing guidance to all 16 school districts in Lancaster County on how to respond to individuals who either test positive for the virus or come in contact with someone who has.  CLICK HERE to see these recommendations.

Over the last week, the Department of Health and Education have provided school districts three additional recommendations and mandates to the opening and operations of school districts.

  1. Instructional Mode Options: The state has identified health-based metrics and community thresholds representing low, moderate, or substantial transmission of COVID-19 and corresponding school instructional modes.  District administrators continue to monitor these metrics on a regular basis to ensure our instructional options adhere to the current community threshold.  Given the multiple options we are offering families, including the Online Learning and Blended instructional modes, we are in compliance with this recommendation.  More information from the state on instructional mode recommendations is available HERE.

 

  1. Temporary School Closure Conditions: Using the same three community thresholds in conjunction with the number of positive cases a school and/or district may have, the state has defined the number of days a school may need to close, in addition to increased cleaning protocols and quarantine guidelines.  CLICK HERE to view the specific breakdown of factors as it relates to amount of time schools would need to close.

 

  1. Update on Face Covering Mandate: Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released an update to their guidance strongly recommending children age two and older should wear face coverings at all times. Prior guidance stated students in schools could remove their face coverings as long as six feet of social distancing could be maintained. Given this recent change from the AAP and consistent the updated guidance from the state, students must now wear face coverings at all times while in school, even when six feet of social distancing can be achieved.  This guidance DOES allow for “face-covering breaks” to occur for up to 10-minutes when spaced at least six feet apart.  CLICK HERE for answers to face coverings FAQs from the Department of Education.

Finally, we will be offering students a “Practice Run” with their technology and our online learning platform on Thursday, August 27.  All students are strongly encouraged to participate, regardless of their chosen instructional mode.  It is important for ALL students to familiarize themselves with learning online from home in the event a future school closure would be necessary.  More detailed information will be coming from your child(ren)’s building principal.  As a “sweet” incentive, all students who participate will receive a certificate for a free Dairy Queen Blizzard!

 

Letter Mailed to District Households – August 14

 

Message to Families – August 6

Thank you for your careful consideration of the learning options available to your child(ren) for the upcoming school year. We received over 3,600 responses to the survey indicating students’ instructional mode of choice. We know this may not have been an easy choice for your family and appreciate your ongoing feedback and survey responses so we can continue to follow through on the plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

We are continuing our work to prepare for the variety of instructional modes created to keep students and staff safe, reengage all students in structured learning, and be responsive to the need for choice.  To do this successfully and provide adequate time for our staff members to be supported in the ambitious task of offering multiple modes of instruction, we are moving the first day of school for students to Monday, August 31.

Delaying the official start of the 2020-2021 school year for students by one week allows us to:

  • Ensure every classroom has the appropriate furniture and is organized in a way that maximizes available social distancing space
  • Train teachers, aides, and support staff on health and safety practices outlined in our District Health & Safety Plan
  • Train and support teachers in new instructional tools and lesson design needed to support students in the Modified Traditional and Online Learning modes together
  • Test new technology tools used to connect students to their classrooms
  • Conduct virtual versions of orientation sessions using the technology that will be used in homes to test home internet and connectivity

Please know delaying the first day of school for students will not affect the last day of school, which is currently scheduled for Friday, June 4, 2021. The Department of Education process to account for the required days and hours of instruction allows us to make this change without needing to extend the student calendar.

We recognize that this may cause some hardship with family schedules, but felt the critical nature of the work needed to provide a safe and successful opening in these unprecedented times deserves an additional week of consideration and care.

Lastly, we continue to update our FAQ webpage as new questions arise and additional guidance is made available. Please CLICK HERE to review the updated list of FAQs.

 

Message to Families, July 27, 2020

We would like to share some additional information as a follow-up on the email you received last Thursday for you to select which instructional mode you would like for your child(ren). As a reminder — we are asking families to respond by the end of the day this Friday, July 31. You can access the questionnaire when you CLICK HERE. Thank you to everyone who has already complete the survey.

We have received several questions that have been answered and added to our FAQ PAGE. As we continue to receive questions from parents/guardians and more information from the state, we will post the information on this same page.

Additionally, several families asked whether there is an option for students to participate in the Modified Traditional mode a few days a week and Online Learning mode for the other days of the week. We believe this option may be a possibility this year but will need to look further into the practical implications of this blended path over the next week or so. In the meantime, if you think a blend of the Modified Traditional and Online Learning might be of interest, please select the Modified Traditional mode when completing the questionnaire due by this Friday. This will allow us to ensure your child is counted in the class rosters for the physical classrooms in the Modified Traditional mode. We will have additional survey questions regarding a blended approach if and when it becomes available.

If you already completed the questionnaire but wish to change your response(s) based on the information above, please complete the questionnaire again for each of your children. You can access the questionnaire when you CLICK HERE.

Links for more information on each of the options can be found below.

Thank you for your continued support as we prepare for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Message to Families, July 23, 2020

Last week, we shared that we were awaiting guidance from the state before asking District families to select an instructional option for each of their children for the 2020-2021 school year. The Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education have since released THIS INFORMATION.

By Friday, July 31, please complete a separate questionnaire for EACH of your children. You can access the questionnaire HERE.

As a reminder, the following three options will be available to students for the upcoming school year.

  • Ephrata Virtual Academy (EVA) is available to any District student in Kindergarten through Grade 12. This program offers everything a cyber-charter program offers plus additional local resources and opportunities to enhance the student’s learning experience. This mode does not include instruction by District teachers. Learn more about EVA HERE.

Information webinars about EVA were held earlier this week. Click on the links below to watch the archived videos.

 

  • Online Learning is a mode completed entirely from home, while maintaining a connection with our classrooms. Students in this mode will log in with a District-issued device to receive instruction at the same time as classroom instruction is happening. Students will also be required to complete some independent work at home. The classroom instruction is provided by District teachers. This mode will make use of live video conferencing software in addition to our District Learning Management System (Schoology) in Grades 3-12 and a home-to-school connection application (SeeSaw) in Kindergarten through Grade 2. Depending on the age and independence level of the student, significant parent/guardian support may be needed throughout the school day.
  • Modified Traditional is the mode that includes physical attendance at school, with social distancing and face-covering requirements in place. This mode will include a reduction in class size due to students participating in EVA and the Online Learning modes. This mode includes modified activities, such as band rehearsals and structured Physical Education classes. This mode will make use of the District Learning Management System (Schoology) in Grades 3-12 and a home-to-school connection application (SeeSaw) in Kindergarten through Grade 2. Some of the student day at school will be spent engaging with technological resources and collaborating with other students through technology.

District students who receive support through student services (IEP, GIEP, 504, or ELL services) will continue to receive support in each of the three options. Individual plans will be updated to match family choice at the start of the school year.

More information about EVA is available HERE. Use the following links for additional information about the Online Learning and Modified Traditional options for your child(ren).

Please contact your building principal as soon as possible if your situation changes after you complete the questionnaire so adjustments can be made.

We’ve also compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions available HERE.

Thank you for your continued support as we prepare our plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

Message to Families, July 16, 2020

The final marking period of the 2019-2020 school year was an excellent demonstration by our entire school community of resilience, adaptability, grit, and teamwork, which are all essential Life Ready Graduate traits. Through the state-mandated school shutdown, we offered the best program we could assemble and learned a tremendous amount about teaching through technology when that is the only option.

Additionally, we have continued to apply our three guiding principles for the fall. They are:

  1. Provide a healthy and safe return to school for all students.
  2. Engage students in learning that will reflect their current needs and prepare them for the next step in their education.
  3. Provide options for students and parents to allow them to choose the school structure that fits their individual needs, reflective of principles A and B above.

This learning has helped guide the District Administration with planning for the health and safety of our students and employees and designing instructional options for the 2020-2021 school year that will enable students to engage in the learning process. This planning and designing maintains a focus on providing options for parents/guardians based on what we learned during the state-mandated school closure.

We had planned to send a link to a questionnaire along with this information where you would be asked to select an option for each of your children. Since we are still awaiting guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, we are not asking parents/guardians to make a selection at this time. We expect that guidance within the next week and will be sending it along with a link to the questionnaire for parents/guardians. The following is information about the three options that will be available to students for the upcoming school year.

  • Ephrata Virtual Academy (EVA) is available to any District student in Kindergarten through Grade 12. This program offers everything a cyber-charter program offers plus additional local resources and opportunities to enhance the student’s learning experience. This mode does not include instruction by District teachers. Learn more about EVA HERE.

Information webinars about EVA will be offered on Wednesday, July 22.

These sessions will be archived and posted on our website in case parents/guardians are not available for the live event.

  • Online Learning is a mode completed entirely from home, while maintaining a connection with our classrooms. Students in this mode will log in with a District-issued device to receive instruction at the same time as classroom instruction is happening. Students will also be required to complete some independent work at home. The classroom instruction is provided by District teachers. This mode will make use of live video conferencing software in addition to our District Learning Management System (Schoology) in Grades 3-12 and a home-to-school connection application (SeeSaw) in Kindergarten through Grade 2. Depending on the age and independence level of the student, significant parent/guardian support may be needed throughout the school day.
  • Modified Traditional is the mode that includes physical attendance at school, with social distancing and face-covering requirements in place. This mode will include a reduction in class size due to students participating in EVA and the Online Learning modes. This mode includes modified activities, such as band rehearsals and structured Physical Education classes. This mode will make use of the District Learning Management System (Schoology) in Grades 3-12 and a home-to-school connection application (SeeSaw) in Kindergarten through Grade 2. Some of the student day at school will be spent engaging with technological resources and collaborating with other students through technology.

District students who receive support through student services (IEP, GIEP, 504, or ELL services) will continue to receive support in each of the three options. Individual plans will be updated to match family choice at the start of the school year.

More information about EVA is available HERE. Use the following links for additional information about the Online Learning and Modified Traditional options for your child(ren).

The District Reopening Health and Safety Plan is available HERE and outlines the key strategies, policies, and procedures for cleaning of buses and buildings, social distancing, and monitoring student and staff health.

NOTE: Guidance on the use of face-coverings for children and adults continues to evolve. The District will always maintain face-covering expectations that are compliant with governmental directives. At the date of this email, face-coverings are required by all staff and students due to the executive order issued on July 1, 2020 by Governor Wolf.

Just as the details of our plan are based upon our best thinking at the time this communication was sent, we realize that more information may be released about any aspect of the start of the 2020-2021 school year that may cause you to alter your intentions. We ask that if that were to occur after you have made your selection, please let your building principal know as soon as a change is made so that we can make adequate plans.

Thank you for your continued support as we prepare our plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

Message to Families, July 9, 2020

More detailed information will be shared next week describing options for student learning next school year.  One of the options, Ephrata Virtual Academy (EVA), is a cyber program we’ve had available for approximately 10 years for K-12 students who reside within the District.

Please take a few minutes to watch THIS VIDEO that provides some additional information about the EVA option for students.  You may also want to visit our EVA WEBPAGE to learn more or sign up to receive more information including upcoming demonstration events.

Message to Families, July 6, 2020:

As required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), a team of administrators and staff from the Ephrata Area School District has developed a preliminary Health and Safety Plan for the reopening of schools this fall. This plan has been developed in compliance with PDE plan requirements and also reflects guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, input has been gathered from recent EASD parent/guardian surveys and from other districts, both locally and across the state. It is important to note that this plan is based on our best knowledge at this time and will be adjusted and adapted as additional requirements and guidance are released from governmental authorities.

Our dedication to the following three guiding principles continues as we get closer to a final set of options for students in the fall:

  1. Provide a healthy and safe return to school for all students.
  2. Engage students in learning that will reflect their current needs and prepare them for the next step in their education.
  3. Provide options for students and parents/guardians to allow them to choose the school structure that fits their individual needs, reflective of principles 1 and 2 above.

Our preliminary Health and Safety Plan is being presented to our School Board for approval on Tuesday, July 7 and includes information on how we intend to maintain a clean and safe school environment, address social distancing, and comply with the Governor’s recent order regarding face coverings. The summary of the plan can be accessed HERE. This special July meeting was scheduled to avoid waiting until our regularly scheduled meeting in August, which would have meant delaying 2020-2021 logistical plans until that time. The complete report can be accessed HERE.

As you will see in the Health and Safety Plan summary, there are specific requirements for students and staff in certain situations. It is important to note that not all of the options we plan to offer include all of these situations. For example, if a parent/guardian decides the District online program is the best fit for his/her student, there is a different set of required safety measures than if participating in the Modified Traditional model.

Specific details of the school format options for each age level (K-4, Grades 5-6, Grades 7-8, and Grades 9-12) are being finalized with the administration and staff this week and will be made available to parents/guardians during the week of July 13. At that point, we will also be asking parents/guardians to consider which option will work best for their child for the 2020-2021 school year. For planning purposes, we will need to have parents/guardians make a final decision on their preferred school option and transportation, if applicable, by the end of July.

While this is not the start of the school year any of us hoped for, we are committed to continuing to work together, apply common-sense measures, adhere to all guidelines, and continue to have open lines of communication.  We look forward to a successful start to the 2020-2021 school year re-engaging all of our students in the learning process!

 

Message to Families, June 25, 2020:

Efforts are ongoing to plan and consider a variety of options for a safe reopening of Ephrata Area School District schools for the 2020-2021 school year. We had a great response to our initial survey regarding reopening plans, with well over 1,000 participants. Thank you to everyone who took time to share your perspective.

As was shared in our previous communication on the reopening of schools, we are committed to the development of a plan that is compliant with the state requirements and is reflective of the following three principles:

  1. Provide a healthy and safe return to school for all students.
  2. Engage students in learning that will reflect their current needs and prepare them for the next step in their education.
  3. Provide options for students and parents to allow them to choose the school structure that fits their individual needs, reflective of principles 1 and 2 above.

While the state template for school reopening plans was released on June 3, the detailed guidance to school districts from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) was only released yesterday afternoon. Additionally, several county departments of health in southeastern Pennsylvania have released further guidance to districts in their counties. (Bucks County and Chester County Departments of Health lists of recommendations.) While Lancaster County does not have a department of health, we are involved in ongoing communication and collaboration among school district leaders and healthcare experts to identify similar guidance for our county.

It is our intention to have a more detailed description to share with parents in the near future about what school may look like in the fall. This information will include initial descriptions of how we intend to address the specific challenges of transportation, breakfast and lunch, social distancing, cleaning, and the use of masks. Following the release of this information, we will seek additional input to further develop options.

Meal distribution will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM at Ephrata High School and Fulton Elementary School. In order to ensure sufficient food preparation, we ask that families CLICK HERE to sign up for meals on Tuesday, June 30 and Thursday, July 2.

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we prepare our plans.

 

Message to Families, June 12, 2020:

As we take a breath after the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year, we are taking stock of what we learned throughout the 12-week closure of schools. While a closure like this is not anything we hope to encounter again, we do feel like we are better equipped to support students, families, and teachers in learning away from school.

We have also gained a new appreciation for the following elements of the school experience that will impact our work, regardless of venue:

  • The power of relationships among students and between students and staff
  • The importance of supporting the social and emotional health of students and staff
  • The ability and limits of technology to enhance student engagement
  • The value of class time and collaboration opportunities for students
  • The vital role of clear, transparent, and ongoing communication

Consequently, we are seeking your input to help us plan for re-opening in the fall and to gain your perspective on several aspects we need to consider. Please CLICK HERE to complete the survey.

Meal distribution will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM at Ephrata High School, Fulton Elementary School, and Clay Elementary School. Please note the new start time. In order to ensure sufficient food preparation, we ask that families CLICK HERE to sign up for meals on Tuesday, June 16 and Thursday, June 18.

We hope your summer break is off to a relaxing start!