Return to 5-Day-Per-Week In-Person Instruction FAQs
On February 22, 2021, the WCASD School Board approved a phased-in return to five-day-a-week, in-person instruction for all students who would like to participate. This plan will eliminate hybrid learning.
According to the updated Chester County Health Department guidance, county transmission rates must be below 100 per 100,000 AND county PCR rates are below 10% for three consecutive weeks. Once these conditions are met, CCHD recommends physical distancing of 6 feet but no less than 3 feet between students. A distance of 6 feet between staff and students is still recommended. WCASD will follow 6 feet of physical distancing to the greatest extent possible and no less than 3 feet.
Q. How much physical distancing will you be able to accommodate between students?
A. This may vary greatly from classroom to classroom and school to school. Our classrooms are different sizes, and each class may have a different number of students choosing to be in-person, remote, or cyber. We will work to provide the maximum amount of social distancing possible.
Q. If I am not comfortable sending my child back to school at reduced distancing, what are my options?
A. Parents may elect to keep their child in full-time remote learning. Remote learning may become more asynchronous as we anticipate fewer families will remain in remote learning. Some classes may have no students learning remotely. Parents can also enroll in the WC Cyber Program, but this may be a challenging transition at this point in the school year as the program is set up differently than our in-person and remote programs. Please contact Dr. Rebecca Eberly (Elementary Program Administrator) or Dr. Kristen Barnello (Secondary Program Administrator) for more information.
Q. My child is sick or has to quarantine. Can they learn remotely?
A. If a child has to quarantine due to COVID or contact tracing, the child may be able to learn remotely. If a child is out sick not related to COVID or absent for other reasons, please contact your child's teacher to make up work.
Q. Will WC Cyber Program students be able to return to 5-day-per week, in-person learning?
A. Yes, we are surveying the cyber parents in a separate survey. Again, this may be a challenging transition because it is late in the school year. Depending on the number of children who return, we may need to open up additional sections in schools to maintain class sizes.
Q. What happens if County transmission rates increase once we have resumed this new model of in-person learning?
A. The Chester County Health Department has told school districts it will not require them to revert to a previous model. If levels would increase dramatically after we have increased in-person learning, we would consider moving to a fully virtual model, and then back out to our 5-day per week, in-person model. This is something we will monitor.
Q. Will contact tracing still be based on close contact being defined as someone being within 6 feet of a presumed positive person for 15 minutes?
Q. Will schools still close periodically and move to virtual learning if the Health Department deems there is an “outbreak” that crosses classes?
A. Yes, schools may be required to revert to virtual learning if the Health Department determines it is necessary to close a classroom, a section of the building, or a school due to linked transmission of cases.
Q. Will staff and students need to continue wearing face masks/coverings?
A. All students and staff must continue to wear masks inside district buildings with the following exceptions:
• When eating lunch or on a mask break
• Staff may remove face masks when eating lunch or working in isolation at a workstation, or when taking a mask break
As of May 10, 2021, the district will be implementing new guidance regarding the use of face masks/coverings at our schools. The Chester County Health Department has issued new guidance which states any staff or student engaging in high exertion OUTDOOR activities, including but not limited to, athletics, exercise, or play activities, is NOT required to wear masks when actively engaged in those activities. This includes:
• Outdoor recess
• Outdoor physical education classes
• Outdoor sports, and any other outdoor activities that fit the criteria of the Chester County Health Department
Gaiters and vent masks are not permitted.
Q. Will middle school and high school students continue with the block schedule?
A. Yes, middle and high school students will continue with the block schedule. The block schedule decreases transitions and provides ample time for teachers to instruct both in-person and remote learning students.
Q. How will elementary classrooms be set up under the updated CCHD guidance?
A. Each student will be spaced to the maximum extent possible. We will not place students any closer than 3 feet apart - there may be a variation of desks and tables used in each classroom. Each student will have their own learning space.
Q. Will elementary students be allowed to use cubbies?
A. No. Students will keep all of their belongings at their desks as they have been doing in hybrid learning.
Q. How will secondary classrooms be set up under the updated CCHD guidance?
A. Secondary classrooms will be set with desks spaced to the greatest extent possible, with at a minimum of 3 feet of social distancing. Desks will continue to face one direction.
Q. Will middle school and high school students be allowed to use lockers?
A No. Students will keep their belongings with them as they have been during hybrid learning. Lockers are very close together and it would be too challenging to monitor distancing if they are used.
Q. How will cafeterias be set up to maintain social distancing?
A. Seating will be scheduled at 6 feet of social distancing. Some schools may need to use alternate locations such as auxiliary gyms, auditoriums, and classrooms.
Q. How will social distancing be maintained in the hallways during class transitions?
A. Secondary schedules will still permit 6 minutes of time for transitions between class periods. Transitions will be staggered as a mitigation strategy to achieve social distancing guidance. Elementary teachers monitor students as they travel through the building.
Q. Will school start and end times remain as they currently are?
Q. Are there any changes to safety protocols on school buses?
A. No, the maximum number of students permitted on a bus remains at 46 and two to a seat. Please visit our Transportation FAQs for more information.
Q. How will the district address drop off and pick up?
A. Each building principal will communicate any necessary changes based on individual factors. We may need to stagger drop-off and/or pick-up times. We are also contacting local police to provide additional traffic flow help at schools where needed.
Q. Will there be any change to Special Education services?
A. No, services will remain the same. As a result of increased students, there may be changes to schedules and/or staff who provide the special education services.
Q. Will there be any changes to English Learner services?
A. No, services will remain the same. As a result of increased students, there may be changes to schedules and/or staff who provide the EL services.
Q. Are there still limits in place on sports and extracurricular activities?
A. Yes. WCASD has been following Governor Wolf’s orders regarding large gatherings and will continue to do so.
Q. If parents elect to keep their child remote can they still participate in after-school activities?
Q. What is the District doing to support students who are struggling socially and emotionally?
A. We currently have nine mental health specialists (MHS) in the district who provide supports to students individually and in small groups. Families can contact their school counselor or principal for help. School counselors have also created an extensive counseling resources library for parents, students, and staff which includes wellness activities, therapeutic resources, and videos. MHS and school counselors have conducted various parent workshops. Parent workshops and more information can be found on the district’s website.
Q. Will PSSA and Keystone exams be given this year?
A. Yes, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sent a letter on February 23 confirming that the federal U.S. Department of Education will not provide a waiver from the testing requirement. The testing window has been extended until September 2021. We are considering testing during the last week in May and the first week in June, so we can maximize instruction during March, April, and May, and not worry about it next year.
Q. Will teachers need to be fully vaccinated prior to students returning with 3 feet of social distancing?
A. No, teachers are not required to be vaccinated. However, 92% of staff are able and willing to be vaccinated.
Q. What is the district doing to help staff receive vaccines?
A. To date, we received notification from approximately 115 of our staff who have been vaccinated (either one or two shots). Our school board sent letters to all of our legislators, governor, county commissioners, Health Department, and hospitals urging them to make educators a priority. Superintendents have been advocating since late fall to do the same. WCASD has protocols in place to operate a vaccine center at East High School, where we can provide 1,000 shots per day. All we need is the vaccine.
Q. Will the district be conducting rapid testing for students and staff?
A. We are set up to conduct weekly rapid testing for staff who have volunteered as part of a study being conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We are not currently set up to do testing for students.
Q. Will the district be handling the week after spring vacation like Thanksgiving/winter vacation, with a week of all-virtual learning across the district?
A. As of February 26, we are not planning for all-virtual learning after Spring vacation. However, we will monitor conditions.
Q. Who can I contact if I have questions?
A. Contact your child’s principal or email firstname.lastname@example.org.