FAQs – September 2020

Please reference more recent communication for up-to-date guidelines.

We understand that parents/guardians may have questions regarding the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The list below also includes frequently asked questions, including questions for which we do not yet have answers. We will continue to update this list as we receive additional guidance from the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education.  

Q – Is it ok for parents to take their kindergartner to school on the first day of school?
A- Yes

Q – Could you please post the times for classes for the High School since school hours have changed this year?
A – The bell schedule was sent out to parents from each building. Please contact your principal for details.

Q – With the new quarantine guidelines provided by the district, you are relying on parents/guardians being honest and telling you if a family member or student has come in contact with a Covid positive person. While honesty is expected you know that parents will not be forthcoming as this would then force their child to stay at home. Does the district have any thoughts on this?
A – We will need everyone to do their part, and that includes the responsibility of all parents/guardians to screen their children at home, if any student shows symptoms at school the child will be sent to the nurse and proper procedures will be followed. The Department of Health will be contacting the school with information about any student who tests positive as well.

Q – My child is enrolled in the modified traditional model, however I am uncomfortable with participation in gym class.
A – Any student participating in the Modified Traditional model will be expected to follow the assigned schedule. Any exception to that would need to be discussed with the building principal and would require a specialized plan for how to meet those course expectations and content in another way.

Q – Will students be allowed to attend after school sports games such as football or soccer? What is the plan for that?
A – At this time the guidance is that there are to be no fans in attendance for any event. We will continue to follow PDE and PIAA guidance when making these decisions.

Q – My first grader is doing online. The information states their learning will be about 3 hours per day. Since elementary school is from 9-3:40,what are the other kids doing for 3 hours and 40 minutes? They are only getting A half day worth of instruction online?
A – Three hours is an estimate and will vary greatly from classroom to classroom and depend on the content that is being covered. In addition to the live-streaming portion of the day, students will be completing some work independently as a follow-up to a lesson and working on other asynchronous assignments.  Additionally, non-instructional times, such as lunch, recess, and transition, are included in the time that students are physically in the building.

Q – How much time will students at each grade level be expected to spend logged into classroom activities when in the Online Learning mode?
A – Approximate times are as follows:

  • At the elementary level, students will be expected to log on daily for morning meeting, ELA, and Math. They will also be asked to sign in for Science and Social Studies lessons as scheduled by the classroom teacher. The actual time online will vary depending on the lesson. Sometimes students will be asked to complete assignments off-line as a follow-up to a lesson. Related Arts will be taught asynchronously. Related Arts teachers will post lessons at the beginning of the cycle, and students will need to post their assignments by the end of that cycle.
  • Intermediate School will be 60 minutes each for ELA and Math, 30 minutes each for Science and Social Studies, and 30 minutes for Related Arts.
  • At the Middle School and High School, students who are in the Online Learning mode will be following the same daily schedule as the students in the live classroom. However, there will be times when teachers will assign work and the online students will have the choice of staying online with the class or doing the work independently.

Q – How are Support Services (like speech therapy for students with an IEP) being carried out if the student is an online student?
A – This will be designed to align with the student’s needs, but instruction will be delivered through Microsoft Teams.

Q – On the elementary level, will there be a preview for the students to see the “new” layout and expectations prior to the first day of school?
A – Elementary teachers are scheduled to check in with their students on Thursday, August 27. This virtual meeting will enable students to meet their teacher, test their technology tools, and get a quick overview of their classroom.

Q – Will the independent learning days be a self-paced day for students on to complete assignments at home? Will they need to log on at a specific time?
A – Yes, these will be asynchronous assignments, and students will work on these at their own pace. We recommend having a schedule at home to complete the work because completion of the assignments designates attendance for the course.

Q – How will we know what instructional mode our children are assigned based on our selection?
A – Students have been assigned to an instruction mode based on the parent/guardian request. This mode is listed in the Parent Portal under School Information on the website only. You will not be able to access this information through the Parent Portal (PowerSchool) App. Click here to log into the Parent Portal to verify your student’s assigned instruction mode.

Q – How will we know if our child is doing online Learning Mode or doing physical school learning?
A – Each parent/family has the choice of what mode they want to select. If you have not made that choice, please contact your child’s school and make sure they are aware of the choice. Schedules and class assignments will be available on the Parent Portal on PowerSchool.

Q – How will music programs be handled for band, orchestra, and chorus, especially if my child is in multiple ones and we chose the Blended or Online Learning option?
A – The secondary music schedule is consistently being developed, but right now Mondays will most likely be full chorus, Tuesday will be full band and orchestra, Thursday will be full chorus, and Friday will be full band and orchestra. Online students will attend remotely, but the software does not allow them to be playing along so they will play but be muted. They will be required to do rehearsal, and they will need to send videos, at the direction of the teacher, so that feedback can be given on their growth progress.

Q – My child has a better laptop than his/her school issued one. Can he/she use that for the online learning option?
A – For most purposes, students may use their own laptop if they prefer. There may be issues with certain District-purchased software. In most situations, there should not be an issue with this practice.

Q – When will school schedules will be sent out? Will students know their teachers before school starts and know what their day is going to look like?
A – School schedules are being made available on the Parent Portal. For students in Kindergarten through Grade 4, the classroom teacher will be contacting online families to communicate the weekly schedule.

Q – How will Related Arts be run?
A – Related Arts for students in Kindergarten through Grade 4 are scheduled as they have been in the past. Online students will have asynchronous* opportunities to engage in Related Arts class. For students in Grades 5-6, the schedule will be the same every day, but they will have one Related Arts for specified time period. This is a change from past years when students would have a different assigned Related Arts class each day. After the time period, the student will be assigned a new Related Arts class and will attend that each day for a set period of time.
* Correction made on 8/24/20 – previous indicated synchronous.

Q – How different will the schedule for Modified Traditional be from a typical schedule prior to COVID-19?
A – The Modified Traditional schedule will be the same as past years with adjustments made to make sure areas are clean before students move to another location.

Q – If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, is he/she required to notify the school district? 
A – Students and staff should notify the District as soon as possible if they test positive for COVID-19. This will allow us to initiate contact tracing and required communications immediately. The PA Department of Health will eventually notify the school, but their process may include up to a 48-hour delay.

Q – It would be helpful to have my child’s schedule to make a decision with regard to the hybrid/blended option. I would also like more details on how Related Arts would be taught as many are hands on.
A – Grades 5-12 schedules became available on August 17 on the Parent Portal on PowerSchool. The elementary schedule will be available as of the afternoon on August 20. All classes are being taught in the safest way possible, and adjustments are being made to keep them engaging but safe.

Q – With the blended option, could it be split three days at school and two days at home?
A – We are currently only offering the hybrid as two days at school and three days at home.

Q – When students are not logged in, what are the students in the classroom doing?
A – Teachers are working to learn how to effectively engage both online and live learners at the same time.

Q – Are non-instruction activities, such as honors-required activities, available to Online Learning students?
A – All students in any District learning mode have access to the designated extra-curricular activities. Students who are not in the Modified Traditional or Blended modes will need to have transportation to and from the school to participate. Please contact the school if your child is in an online mode and will be participating in an extra-curricular activity.

Q – Are any classes not available for students who are in the Online Learning mode?
A – Almost all classes are available online. There are some Middle School and High School electives that are not designed for online learning, and the administration from those buildings should have contacted students signed up for those courses to make another elective selection.

Q – Must my child use a disposable lunch bag?
A – Disposable bags are encouraged but not required.

Q – This year my child starts Kindergarten. How do I know who the classroom teacher will be? Also, when do I receive an access code to log into the parent portal?
A – Classroom assignments are set to release to the parent portal by the end of the week of August 17. Families should be getting a letter in the mail with instructions on how to access the parent portal.

Q – Do students need to provide their own supplies?
A – Students who are in the Modified Traditional mode will have supplies at school that are provided by the District.

Q – My son started violin lessons last year in 3rd grade. What will string lessons/orchestra look like this year?
A – Many of the details about string instruction still need to be finalized. It will vary depending on whether the student is in the Modified Traditional or the Online Learning mode.

Q – Will there be an open house this year when students and parents get to see and find the new classroom, etc.?
A – We are currently working on plans to hold virtual open houses.

Q – Will the elementary students who are online be logging in at the same time every day. For example, Math at 9, Science at 10, and English at 11. Or will the times of logging in be different everyday throughout the week? In other words will times be consistent each day and each week?
A – This will vary depending on the classroom and their schedule. Teachers will send a schedule a week at a time letting families know about required log in times.

Q – We opted for online learning for my child so that we wouldn’t take up an in-person slot for those that really need it. It would be very valuable for her to still be able to interact with others her age. Could families be informed of other families who are doing online learning, so that we could form small playgroups for recess-type activities or other similar activities?
A – The District is not able to share this type of personal information with other families. In prior years, the building PTOs have published student contact information booklets, but plans on if that will occur this year have not been finalized.

Q – Will microwaves be available for students in grades 5-12?
A – No, not at this time.

Q – I selected the Blended option for my child. When will I be notified of which days he/she is attending school in Modified Traditional and which days he/she is in the Online Learning mode?
A – Buildings are communicating with families about the days their students will participate in hybrid. The District will have a video demonstrating this by Friday, August 14 to correspond with reopening the portal for students to see homerooms, schedules, transportation info, etc.

Q – If my child is running a fever and stays home from school, is he/she considered absent for the day or should he/she participate in online learning that day if he/she is able to?
A – Your child be marked absent but may complete the “make-up work” by participating in the Online Learning mode that same day.

Q – I selected EVA for my child. Is there anything more I need to do to enroll or register him/her? Will the first day of EVA also now be on August 31? Should I expect more information in an email?
A – A separate enrollment process will be used for students in the EVA program. EVA will also start on August 31. The EVA calendar will mirror the District calendar for the most part, except for some slight differences toward the end of the school year.  Information specific to EVA will be communicated directly with EVA families.

Q – If students do not have lockers, where will they be able to store their instruments, jackets, and backpacks?
A – In certain situations, lockers or other storage options will be available. Please contact your Building Principal to arrange an suitable option.

Q – Will students who are participating in Online Learning or the Blended Mode be able to come in and have their picture taken for school picture day?
A – School pictures are being coordinated at the building level. Please contact your building Principal for more information.

Q – Will parents be notified of their child’s classroom numbers before the first day of school?
A – No, class rosters are constantly evolving, and we will not be able to share these numbers until the first day of school for students.

Q – How will materials be handed out for the online learning option?
A – Families will be invited to pick up materials at their school site during the week of August 24. Information will be communicated directly with the families who selected Online Learning.

Q – Why are the Middle and High schools doing 4 day weeks but the Intermediate school isn’t? It’s the same school as the Middle School?
A – This difference is due to the age of the students. It was decided that most 7th and 8th graders are able to be at home without a parent on Wednesdays, like the High School, while 5th and 6th graders likely need more supervision from parents/guardians.

Q – Will the air temperatures be kept cooler than normal to make wearing masks all day more comfortable?
A – Adjustments such as this will be considered once we are up and running. This suggestion will certainly be considered.

Q – Will the online teaching be recorded? In the event the student has an appointment or the technology fails, will the student be able to access the teaching/ class that they missed?
A -In most cases the teacher will be able to record instructional activities so that they can be used for purposes like this.

Q – Are incoming High School freshmen going to be able to tour the school prior to the first day?
A – We are not able to accommodate the traditional Walk the Halls experience but are planning a virtual experience for all students.

Q – For children in the traditional classroom what is the format. Will the teacher be sharing their screen and the people in class will also be on their computer? How are they handling questions from online? Will the in-house class just be watching online?
A – Students from the Online Learning Mode will be joining the class, via technology, to participate in the instructional activities occurring within the classroom. Students in the Modified Traditional Mode will also be joining the virtual classroom on their computer/iPads so that they can collaborate in part of the lesson activities as well. There will be time during the school day where students participating in the Modified Traditional Mode will be engaging in online learning activities that are the same as what is happening in the Online Learning Mode.

Q – Will there be parent/school meetings to see what a typical day of online schooling would look like?
A – There will be parent information shared in the next few weeks that will outline some of the instructional and health and safety measures that we are putting in place for the Modified Traditional mode this year.

Q – What are the procedures for quarantine? What exposure results in what amount of quarantine?
A – Contact tracing and the issuance of a quarantine recommendations will be consistent with the medical advice provided to the District. If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, he/she will be immediately isolated for a minimum of 10 days from the start of symptoms. Additionally, he/she must be symptom-free for 24 hours prior to being released from isolation.

Q – Are the new school hours still going into effect this year?
A – Yes. The new hours will start this year. Click here for the new school hours.

Q – How will you handle students who come to school and don’t wear masks?
A – Failure to comply with face covering requirements will be treated like any other disciplinary matter. Repeated failure to meet this expectation could result in losing the ability to participate in the Modified Traditional Instructional Mode.

Q –  Will students and staff members who have come in close contact at school or home with someone who has tested positive be required to quarantine for 14 days and not attend school? 
A – Specific guidance from the PA Department of Health will be used to direct any student or staff member to isolate at home.

Q –  If a student is absent or is sent home from school from being sick, will a COVID-19 test be required to re-enter school? 
A – No. Not all absences will be treated as COVID cases. Guidance from the PA Department of Health will be used to determine when a COVID test will be recommended.

Q – If one of the schools in the district had positive cases of COVID that it warranted a closure, would just that school be under a closure or would all the schools in the district be under a closure?
A – The PA Department of Health will work with District Administration on any decision to close a school. Information available at that time will help inform any such decision.

Q – Would the district consider alternating days for students by grades/classes and/or teams?
A – The recent offering of participating in a few days of the Online Learning and Modified Traditional modes is how we are addressing this type of blended experience.

Q – Would the District be open to half-days to assist with limiting the time that face coverings are worn?
A – While this type of schedule is presently being explored, there are some practical challenges with this option.

Q – Has it been determined whether or not EVA students will be able to take some classes at the school?
A – EVA student schedules may include class sections in the school, but those possibilities will only be determined once the schedules and class rosters for the Online Learning and Modified Traditional schedules have been established.

Q – Will students be able to have book bags and lunch boxes this year?
A – YES. Communications about other items students may bring to school will be coming from the building Principal

Q – Is there a plan to handle technical difficulties for students who are using the online option. What happens if the student is watching the teacher and the technology fails?
A – YES – Our Technology Services Department will be on call for any technical difficulties that teachers and students may encounter. Students or parents/guardians in need of immediate technology support will be able to call 717-721-1451 to speak to a support representative between 7:30 AM and 3:30 PM. Support requests that do not need immediate attention can be sent to support@easdpa.org.

Q – Why is the Modified Traditional option only 4 days a week at school? Students being home every Wednesday puts a burden on working parents who will need to find child care or take time off work.
A – The Modified Traditional mode is only offered 4 days a week at the secondary levels for two reasons: the first is that students at the secondary can generally engage more easily in online learning that younger students and the fact that students in grades 7-12 generally do not need as much child care supervision than younger students.

Q – Once all parents have reported their choice for the start of the school year, what will happen if more parents choose Modified Traditional than anticipated? Will these options have to change to allow social distancing if too many students elect the Modified Traditional model?
A – We anticipate being able to open schools in a way that is in compliance with the required measures issued to protect students and staff. The state requires us to establish the six feet of social distance whenever feasible. There may be some situations where maintaining six feet of social distance is not feasible, depending upon the number of students who choose an online option and the relative size of the classroom. In these situations, face coverings will be used and a lesser number of feet will be used for social distancing.

Q – How are you planning for social distancing and face mask requirements for students riding the school bus?
A – Students will be required to wear a face covering while riding on the bus.

Q – The transportation choices include bus, making other arrangements, and child is in walking distance. Will students still be able to drive themselves to school and utilize the school parking lot?
A – Students will still be able to drive themselves to school. Once they leave their vehicle, they will be required to wear a face covering.

Q – With the online learning option through the school district, will the sign-on time be consistent each day? Also what are the students in the classroom doing when online students are not logged in with the class. Are those students at home missing learning opportunities?
A – The Online Learning mode will follow the same schedule as the normal instructional schedule. They will start each period for students in Grades 7-12 and each content area for students in Kindergarten – grade 6 at the same time as the students participating in the Modified Traditional mode.

Q –  Will all students be able to participate in daily learning, 5-days a week? 
A –  YES – Parents can choose from three options offered by the school district depending upon their preferences for a Modified Traditional, Online Learning, or complete cyber educational experience through the Ephrata Virtual Academy (EVA). More information about EVA is available HERE. More information about the Modified Traditional and Online Learning options is available HERE

Q –  Will face coverings and social distancing be a part of the Modified Traditional mode for students and staff?  
A –  YES – We are working out the details of how to comply with these requirements while preserving as close to a normal educational experience for students as possible. 

Q –  Will face coverings be required during Physical Education class in the Modified Traditional mode of school?
A –  SOMETIMES – The District will adhere to the state mandated requirements regarding the use of face coverings.  Students will not be required to wear masks while participating in physical activity, but will be required to wear masks when receiving instruction.  

Q –  If a student is enrolled in EVA or the Online Learning Mode, how are the Physical Education class requirements fulfilled?
A –  Any student that is in the EVA or online program and has physical education as a course will be given directions from the teacher about how they log activity and submit to the teacher.   

Q –  Will there be any “normal” social time so students can talk in a school setting?
A –  YES – While the format of the interactions may look slightly different due to the need for face coverings or the use of social distancing. There will be a similar amount of unstructured time for students to interact, much like the pre-COVID era. 

Q –  Where will students eat lunch?
A –  Students enrolled in the Modified Traditional mode will eat lunch in the cafeteria, gym, other large space, or the classroom, depending upon the grade-level, day of the week, or lunch schedule. 

Q –  If students are not required to wear a face covering in the classroom during instructional time, is a teacher permitted to require a face covering at all times while students are in the classroom?
A –  The District will adhere to the state mandated requirements regarding the use of face coverings.   

Q –  Will the District notify families whose child(ren) who may have come in close contact with a student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19?
A –  It is the responsibility of Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) to inform close contacts of their possible exposure to a student or staff person with COVID-19, and give instructions to those involved, including siblings and other household members, regarding self-quarantine and exclusions. The individual who tested positive will not be identified in communications from the DOH to the school community at large but may need to be selectively identified for contact tracing by the DOH. 

Q –  If a student is required to quarantine for 14 days, will he/she have access to technology, and will assignments be posted?
A –  YES – if a student who is enrolled in the Modified Traditional mode needs to quarantine, he/she will become part of the Online Learning mode and will utilize his/her District-issued device to participate in instructional time at the same time as his/her Modified Traditional classmates.  

Q –  How are school start and end times being adjusted due to bus cleaning between runs?
A –  The District does not anticipate having to adjust the start and end times of the school day. Any delays due to bus cleaning would be minimal 

Q –  What are the criteria for school being closed?
A –  The District will adhere to the state mandated requirements based on the red/yellow/green color designation for Lancaster County and forthcoming guidance from the Department of Health. 

Q – Does the Governor’s Targeted Mitigation Order apply to schools?
A – NO – The Order does not apply to classroom settings but does apply to school activities outside of the classroom that are not related to educational instruction.  School activities and gatherings not related to educational instruction that are held indoors are limited to no more than 25 people. This includes meetings, assemblies, etc. Activities and gatherings held outdoors are limited to no more than 250 people.

Q – Does the Governor’s Targeted Mitigation Order apply to school cafeterias and college dining facilities?
A – NO – School cafeteria food services are exempt from the Order, as those services are not considered to be a private catered event or offered by a restaurant. However, if meals are being served in a congregate setting, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends individuals sit at least 6 feet apart and wear face coverings when walking to and from the dining facility and when getting their food.

Q –  Does the Governor’s limit of 25 people for indoor gatherings apply to schools? 
A –  NO – it only applies to the food service and retail industry. 

Q –  What is the instructional plan for when schools are forced to close again due to the virus?
A – The two options of EVA and Online Learning will continue to operates if the District is forced to close for a period of time this school year.

Q –  Is it a possibility that district schools will not reopen on Monday, August 24?
A – YES – The new start date is Monday, August 31.

Q:  Define “face coverings.”  Can students choose between a mask, face shield, or bandana?
A:  The PA Department of Health specifies that either face masks or face shields satisfy the face covering requirements for schools. The District will be following this guidance and allow either to be worn by students and staff. As long as a bandana stays in place and covers both the mouth and nose of the person wearing it, it will also qualify as a face covering.

Q:  Under what conditions would students be allowed to not wear a mask in the classroom?  Is there something I can sign for my children to not wear a mask?  If my child is unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition, what steps do we need to take for the school to honor this?
A:  The state requires medical documentation to be submitted in order for a student or staff member to not comply with face covering requirements.  The process to secure a medical exception to the face-covering requirement will be made available on our website as soon as possible. 

Q:  Will children have to wear masks in class at all times?
A:  The most recent guidance for face coverings is that they are to be worn whenever inside, regardless of social distance. We will have “Face Covering Breaks,” in addition to recess in Kindergarten through Grade 6, and at lunch where face coverings will not be worn.

Q:  Will the school district have a written policy for dealing with students who refuse to wear masks? They will be putting numerous people at risk.
A:  Students and their parents must agree to meet the expectation of wearing a face covering prior to participating in the Modified Traditional mode. Failure to comply with this expectation will be handled like any other disciplinary matter and could result in the student losing the ability to participate in the Modified Traditional mode.

Q:  Is the District providing face masks for students?
A:  We are asking that students bring their own face coverings. However, the District will have extra face coverings available as needed.

Q:  If a student is initially enrolled in one learning mode but would like to change at some point during the school year – is that possible?  Basically, can I keep my kids home until I feel comfortable sending them in?
A:  We are asking that families select the learning mode that best fits their current situation. Additionally, it is asked that families commit to the initial selected learning mode for at least the first five weeks of the school year. From there, as situations change, we will be open to making adjustments. Switching between the Modified Traditional and Online Learning modes is something that we anticipated and strongly considered when creating our learning options. We recognize changing health and/or educational needs may impact a switch to a different learning mode. To make any changes, parents/guardians should immediately contact their child(ren)’s teacher(s) and building principal as soon as the need arises. 

Q:  Is it possible to have an instructional mode that includes some time at school and some time learning online?
A:  The recent offering of participating in a few days of the Online Learning and Modified Traditional modes is how we are addressing this type of blended experience.

Q:  Where can I find out more details on the Online Learning and Modified Traditional options?
A:  The links below provide more information on the Online Learning and Modified Traditional options.

Q:  Is EVA still available and online at future dates? May I change to EVA from a different learning mode?
A:  If EVA is initially selected instead of the Online Learning mode, please know that it is more difficult to then transition to the Modified Traditional mode during the school year. This is because the EVA curriculum, while still aligned to state standards, is not aligned on a regular basis to the Modified Traditional curriculum. However, the Online Learning mode corresponds directly with the District curriculum used in the Modified Traditional mode.

Q:  If students choose the online option, can they still participate in things like as band, and honors-required activities?
A:  YES – All District sports and extracurricular activities are available to students who are enrolled in any of the three instructional modes.

Q:  How will the students be able to properly social distance if they are all in school at the same time?
A:  The number of students in classrooms will be less than pre-COVID numbers due to the percentage of students opting for the Online Learning or EVA modes.

Q:  How will I know how many students are going to be in my child’s class if selecting the Modified Traditional mode?
A:  Specific class numbers cannot be determined until learning modes have been selected for each District student. 

Q:  Will staff and students’ temperatures be checked?
A:  As per the recommendations from various leading health organizations, it is the requirement of the parents/guardians to check students’ temperatures and monitor any other symptoms prior to sending their child(ren) to school.  Staff will self-monitor themselves for any symptoms.

Q:  My child will only ride bus occasionally. I feel bad taking up a bus seat for an occasional need but there are times she could need it.  What transportation selection should I make?
A:  Please indicate “bus rider” if your child(ren) plans on using the bus, even if it is only occasionally or for a limited number of days.

Q:  Will children have to clean their desk?  If so, can they bring their own cleaning supplies?  Can they use their own hand sanitizer?
A:  Students may use their own hand sanitizer and any other related supplies.  Students will be asked to clean their work spaces after use. Staff will continually follow-up on this process.

Q:  What about the Project Build A Better Future program and Washington Education Center classes?
A:  These programs will be operating in a modified format.  A staff member from our Student Services Department will be in touch with parents/guardians of students involved in these programs.

Q:  If we choose online learning will breakfast and lunch be available for pick-up?
A:  YES – Meals will be available according to our traditional school year meal program, including free and reduced breakfasts and lunches for families who qualify. 



None at this time.