Methacton Online & On Premises - Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
What is the reasoning for not providing a hybrid learning option?
- The district considered a hybrid option as part of our original discussions in outlining a roadmap. Based on the health and safety guidance, input from survey and focus group sessions with parents, the positive benefits to consistent daily routines, and the economic and family barriers/benefits, the district believes that the best options are to attend 5 days per week On Premises or 5 days per week in Methacton Online. The choices above depend on the number of students opting for Methacton Online. The district may have little choice, but to provide choices between a hybrid or all online if the all online option does not reach the mid 30% of student choices.
Will students be required to clean their own desks?
- Students may be asked to participate in daily routines that can include frequent washing of hands and disinfecting of their work spaces.
If an on premises student is forced to quarantine will they automatically be placed in the Methacton Online program?
- A student in quarantine will be provided options at that time to best accommodate their continuity of instruction given their specific circumstances. The School Counselor and teacher(s) will coordinate the options which will include Methacton Online.
What is being offered to the on premise students to make sure they don't fall behind because they may be missing more school than usual?
- On Premises students will be provided flexible attendance options to address the potential challenges to illness/symptoms similar to COVID-19. Teachers and school counselors will monitor student progress and provide communications with parents/guardians to best address the continuous growth of learning throughout the school year.
If a student has allergies or a head cold, are they required to be kept out of school for in person learning?
- If there are known allergies, this should be communicated with the school nurse so that we clearly can be aware of this so that it does not cause concern within the classroom/school. In terms of a head cold, based on the symptoms as outlined in the health and safety plan and our motto of “if you are feeling ill, stay home” – students should stay home.
Will you incorporate movement breaks into the schedule for elementary students enrolled in on premises learning?
- Teachers will be scheduling movement breaks within classroom and will coordinate outdoor air breaks with the building principal to occur when appropriate.
How will music lessons be handled for students who opt for Methacton Online learning?
- Lessons will be provided remotely through zoom type related conferencing.
Can independent Math or ELA work be completed after the traditional school day ends?
- Independent work will be based on the individual teacher and the way in which they need to progress through the planned lesson/curriculum.
Can you please share what “mask breaks” will look like for students and staff?
- There can be a number different approaches to providing breaks for students including relocating the classrooms to outside, creating routines within classes so that students are not in the bubble of 6 feet for more than just a few minutes on frequent times throughout the day. Teachers will be coordinating these routines with the Principal and school nurse to comply with the plan.
What do the isolation rooms look like? How long will students be placed in them? What is being done to avoid the “singling out” of students should they need to go to the isolation room?
- Isolation rooms are located close to the nurse’s office and will have area for seating so that students can remain separate from the nurse’s office, be supervised by another adult and remain for the period of time so needed until the parent arrives to pick up the student.
How will you track temperatures on the bus?
- The district does not plan to take temperatures of students on the bus. We are requiring that all students (parents/guardians) and employees complete a daily symptom screening check list prior to leaving their home each day.
If there is a student who tests positive for COVID-19, what are the next steps related to contact tracing? Will students (and faculty) who were in the same class be notified and need to quarantine for 14 days? In the case of high school students who switch classes regularly, how will this be handled?
Contact Tracing Action Steps
- The district will conduct all contract tracing procedures and actions as directed by the Montgomery County Department of Health and in accordance with the then current time CDC guidance.
- Once notified, the district will immediately contact and provide relevant information to the Montgomery County Department of Health based on all close contact persons within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes from the date determine by the interview between the County Department of Health and the patient.
- Parents/Students/Employees will be notified if they are considered close contacts and procedures/actions once determined by the County Department of Health will be communicated in terms of need to get tested/self-quarantine/isolate and for what length of time.
- Close contacts who test positive (symptomatic or asymptomatic) will be managed as a confirmed COVID-19 cases and are subject to medical documentation prior to returning to school/work.
- Classrooms and other identified areas where potential exposure was likely will be evacuated and disinfected using EPA approved COVID-19 products.
- Students/employees will be provided accommodations appropriate to continue work or continuity of education on a case by case basis.
- The district will maintain records associated with each incident and use that data to communicate in aggregate to the public.
Will students who chose online have a specific start and end time for classes?
- Yes, please see the sample Methacton Online Schedules.
Can the School District provide parents with a preview of the online platform so as to inform decisions about in-class vs. online education?
- Please see the Methacton Online Expectations for Teachers.
Is the school district considering allowing medically vulnerable and concerned teachers and staff to work remotely, while accommodating those that wish to perform their employment duties in person?
- The district will provide accommodations for staff where appropriate and where afforded under the law. We are also addressing flexible attendance matters to support staff where and when appropriate.
Can parents sign a waiver to remove liability from the School District for classroom and extracurricular activities?
- This is not a practice that the district will be undertaking.
What are the public health events that would hypothetically occur to lead to further restrictions with in-class education?
- An increase in the spread of the virus within the community and the county (even surrounding counties) that would place the School District back in the RED Phase of the pandemic.
How did the budget for sanitation for all of Methacton become calculated? The allotted budget seems grossly insufficient for the year for all Methacton School District schools. Thus, is the board willing to reconsider the expense of redoing Arrowhead for financial reallocation of funds?
- The district allocated $325K in the operating budget for pandemic challenges and has 2 additional grant fund from the state/Federal Government in range of $200K and $300K respectively. In terms of Arrowhead, at this time there is no indication that sanitation funds or perceived lack thereof are in away attributable to the determination of to or not to construct a new arrowhead.
Is the school open to consider changing the on premise guidance such that students must wear masks even when seated 6 feet apart in their classrooms?
- The most recent DRAFT (7/24/2020) of the plan still referenced the requirement for mandatory face coverings. Feedback from the Board and public indicate that we will likely change the requirement from face covering to face mask specifically. We are planning another update to address this.
What are the plans for childcare before and after school, and during online teaching?
- The district has provided sample schedules for each level for Methacton Online. These schedules can help provide guidance to families that need to consider child care services.
How will students forced to quarantine receive their schoolwork?
- Students that are forced to quarantine will be addressed on a case by case bais. However, the options of working directly with the teacher, being placed in Methacton Online, a combination of these two efforts or other means that best support the child will be considered.
What will daily schedule be like for Methacton Online?
- Please see sample schedules here.
What is North Montco’s plan for reopening?
- Their plan is in progress. The school reports to a Board and they have the same requirements to produce a plan for their Board adoption. Once approved the districts can share that with families.
How will the school district address the need for student evaluations and meet the needs of IEP and 504 students?
- Once school is back in on premises operation, the clock to conduct student evaluations and meet IEP/504 updates/revisions will begin. Special Education Supervisors will be in contact with parents.
Will there be any adjustments to the excused/unexcused absence policy to adjust for students kept home due to various illness symptoms?
- We are working on flexible attendance policies in order to allow for – “if you feel ill-> Stay Home” practice can be best addressed. This rules will be communicated prior to the start of school.
How will a student enrolled in Methacton Online be able to participate in learning activities that are required to take place outside of the classroom (i.e. research work/labs)?
- There will be modifications of labs and other commonly used curricular activities that need to be addressed on a subject by subject basis. In some instances digital representations may allow for simulations and or distribution of materials for use in home where and when appropriate.
What are the specific protocols for communication, quarantine requirements and the continuity of student education when an MHS On Premises student(s) or faculty member(s) are exposed or contracts COVID19?
- Please see the revised 7/24/2020 Plan (see section on Symptom Screening)
What changes to the typical student schedule will be required to comply with social distancing if not enough students opt for online?
- If we do not have the proper balance of online and on premises, the district may need to address specific grades, buildings, etc with a hybrid approach.
What is the target student population for both options – online and on premises?
- Based on initial feedback from parents, we were targeting 30% on line participation.
What are the specific course offerings and staffing in both options, particularly for students in upper level, honors, or AP courses?
- The course offerings at the HS for on premises and online are intended to be identical. However, based on enrollment in both the district will ensure that core courses are addressed first and electives second. The specifics to this question cannot be complete answered in advance of the enrollment determination for both.
What options do students have to return to On Premises if Online program is not working or is unable to meet their needs?
- It is recommended that the Online program commitment be for one semester (September through mid-January). If in the instance that there are academic or other issues, the family shall contact the child’s school counselor to determine what options are available. Please know that the identical courses in the online program and on premises program may not be running simultaneously and access can be limited.
How would Methacton Online program provide for the social and emotional needs of our students?
- Teachers will be provide appropriate socialization, small group and individual support and provide activities based on supporting all students social and emotional wellbeing. Support staff and other 3rd party mental health professionals will be available and take part in addressing student needs.
What types of trainings and professional development have the teachers been given in teaching/learning in the online environment?
- Teachers were provided professional development this summer in what we call MIAC in areas such as Google Classroom, online pedagogy, and use of 3rd party tools to help stream, capture and share video and other appropriate content to support instruction.
Given the space requirements, what is the plan to assist for those children who will be in the back of the classrooms in elementary?
- The space requirements will reduce the available class size in each classroom. Classroom configurations will be traditional in nature and will have limited small group instruction in the traditional sense.
Would it be possible for a student who chooses online to come in to school for electives requiring in-person instruction?
- This model would be more in line with a hybrid approach. While we are not currently planning for a hybrid approach, there may be instances that could require some combination at certain levels to do exactly what your question so suggest. However, this will not be the targeted or common approach.
Were any agencies or companies consulted with regard to the sanitation strategy?
- The Director of Facilities has been coordinating with various companies in terms of access to products and the training there of. There have been no outside consultants used. However, the Director of Facilities meets monthly with other facilities directors as part of the Montgomery County IU job alike sessions and this group has had professionals in to provide guidance in sanitization and disinfection matters.
Will the school district be adding anything to the curriculum discussing the pandemic, mitigation strategies, disease vectors, or coping with loss (whether “loss” refers to a loved one / family member or simply loss of certain activities / freedoms normally taken for granted)?
- Please see the professional development plan in the revised document located near the end of the document.
For students who have been affected personally by the pandemic and lost one or more loved ones, are there any additional counseling options or plans in place?
- Students can access their school counselor and the other 3rd party mental health providers that are located in each of our facilities. These services will also be available for students online. We have also added to the HS and Skyview additional mental health services called REACH.
Has the general teaching staff been provided with any additional training to assist them with identifying students who are struggling with the changes and/or impacted by the pandemic and may need additional support?
- Teaching staff will be provided training as outlined in the revised plan. See training schedule near the end of the document.
What assistance does the district have for teaching staff and employees who may likewise be affected personally by loss and/or may struggle with the dual role of being a teacher and pandemic management specialist at the same time?
- Teaching staff will be provided training as outlined in the revised plan. See training schedule near the end of the document.
How will music programs such as chorus be handled keeping in mind the concerns related to singing but considering that at the high school level, those classes are credit electives?
- Chorus will be handled differently at each level. However, each level will be modifying for health and safety precautions as well as limiting the size of rehearsals and performances. More information can be found in the distancing section of the updated plan.
Will lockers be used or not?
- No locker use.
Can you please provide more information around cleaning protocol if someone gets sick?
- If someone presents with symptoms or there is a determination of confirmed case, the district will secure the area and use EPA approved disinfecting materials with an electrostatic sprayer to encapsulate all surfaces to disinfect. Only after the approved wait time elapses will the area be able to be reoccupied.
What is the plan at the elementary level for students in learning support?
- Students will be provided with support in a push in model so as to not intermingle students as is commonly the practice.
Will the online teachers be a Methacton teacher who teaches their own grade and subject area?
- All Methacton Online teachers will be Methacton teachers and will teach at the level and subject with which they are certified by the state. This means that they could teach different grades in elementary where needed even if they normally teacher for example grade 2.
Any thoughts to shortening the school day?
- This is not being considered at this time.
Where are the kids going to be during early morning drop off? Cafeteria? Classroom? Who’s watching them, and what will they be doing?
- The early morning drop off will be supervised by either professional staff or support staff. The locations in the building will depend on the number of request. We may have to limit the request to a number appropriate to maintain social distancing. More information on this in August. Students will not be engaged by the people supervising them nor will there be any planned activities. Students should be prepared to read, do homework or other independent activity.
Define what constitutes a face mask? Is a bandana or other cloth covering acceptable?
- The updated plan refers to the acceptable face masks so defined by the CDC. Link to acceptable masks are provided in the plan.
How will Driver’s Ed work for a student in Methacton online?
- Direct instruction can continue to be provided. The use of the simulators will not be available, however where appropriate, modification can be made to help support students with additional activities.
If my child participates in Methacton Online, will they still be able to attend North Montco Technical School?
- Students attending Methacton Online are still eligible to attend North Montco Technical School. The district will continue to provide transportation if needed. Details regarding transportation will be sent later in August. At this time, North Montco Technical School indicates they plan to continue with in person instruction. Please visit their website for updates.
Will the same courses be available to my child in Methacton Online as they will be in person?
- Yes, your child will be able to enroll in the same courses in Methacton Online as they would in person. This includes, AP courses, honors and electives. Student transcripts will not indicate enrollment in Methacton Online, but enrollment in Methacton School District.
Can my child go back and forth between Methacton Online and in person?
- We are asking families to enroll in Methacton Online by July 29 for students entering grades 9-12 and by August 5 for students entering grades K-8. Students who enroll in Methacton Online will remain there through the first half of the school year. We will reassess enrollment decisions prior to December and communicate where appropriate. As always, we will work cooperatively with students and parents based on needs, but want all families to understand that there are limitations to making decisions following the release of a schedule.
Will students in Methacton Online be graded the same as those enrolled in brick and mortar schools?
- Yes, all students will be graded on the scale used in our traditional on premises school program.
Can my child still participate in extracurricular activities?
- Yes, your child may participate in any extra-curricular and co-curricular activities that are available for which they are eligible. Transportation may need to be arranged or provided by the parent.
If I choose Methacton Online, will my child still be able to participate in activities at their assigned brick and mortar school?
- Yes, your child will still have access to extra-curricular activities such as PIAA athletics or Co-curricular activities such as ensemble. Student clubs, Home and School events as well as the School Counselor and Nurse will be available.
Will Methacton Teachers be teaching online?
- Yes, Methacton School District teachers will be facilitating all of our Methacton Online courses.
Can one of my children go to Methacton Online and the other go brick and mortar?
- Yes, the opportunity is available to best meet the needs of each child in our school district. This may mean different options within one household.
Will my child’s IEP/GIEP, 504 or ELD needs be addressed in Methacton Online?
- Yes, all support services will continue to be provided.
Will students be required to wear masks while on the bus or in school?
- Please see the communication from the Superintendent on 7/16/2020.
Will my child have access to the software they need for specific art or technology courses?
- We will work with individual students to provide access to specific software or comparable software for courses that require it.
The deadline to select Methacton Online is prior to the release of the final plan for on premises learning. How can I make an educated decision without seeing the final plan?
- The high school deadline is before the final vote by the Board of School Directors on the proposed plan. Part of the plan will be released on July 16, 2020 and another part on July 17, 2020. The entire plan will be posted to the district website on July 21, 2020. We need additional time at the HS level to schedule which is why the commitment timeline comes slightly before the final vote. If you are considering or have already committed to Methacton Online at the HS and see that the final approved plan changes your determination to have your child On Premise, you will be able to do that before August 5, 2020. Committing early allows us to better schedule and plan.
If we choose Methacton Online and are unhappy, can we move our child to on premises instruction any time before the semester ends?
- If there is an educational, health or safety concern, regardless of On Premise or On line, please contact your school counselor to notify us of your concern and we will address the matter on a case by case basis.
If COVID-19 cases continue to increase while my child is enrolled in on premises learning, do I have the option at any time to enroll my child into Methacton Online?
- The district will work closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health to monitor spread within school and the community and will collectively make recommendations by class, building and district the need to change from On Premise to online. In instances where a child is diagnosed with a confirmed positive case, extra consideration by the school/district, will be given to parents who wish to have their child remain in Methacton Online following the quarantine period.
Why isn’t the district offering a hybrid option of some days on premises and the rest online?
- The district considered a hybrid option as part of our original discussions. Based on the health and safety guidance, input from survey and focus group sessions with parents, the positive benefits to consistent daily routines, and the economic and family barriers/benefits, the district believes that the options to attend 5 days per week On Premise or 5 days per week in Methacton Online, students, families and district staff can best coordinate the health, safety and educational needs.
How will students enrolled in Methacton Online gain access to equipment/materials required for science lab, art, etc.?
- Teachers will coordinate the access to materials, books, supplies at the beginning of the school year.
Will students be able to remove masks while seated in the classroom during instruction?
- Please see the communication from the Superintendent on 7/16/2020.
Will students be able to drink from their water bottles throughout the day?
What's the protocol for when a student or teacher tests positive for the virus?
- We will follow the Montgomery County Department of Health process which will be released on July 17, 2020 in a communication to Methacton Families from the Superintendent.
Will facilities be available to third-party organizations on nights and weekends? If so, how will the facilities be cleaned, who will be responsible for cleaning, and who will absorb costs of cleaning?
- Some outdoor facilities will be made available on a limited basis. There will be NO outside use of indoor facilities for the month of September 2020. This determination will be evaluated prior to October and communicated accordingly.
What are the safety plans for the transportation process?
- These plans have been outlined in a communication from Superintendent on 7/16/2020.
Have you considered having “family groups” sit together while being transported to and from school?