I hope you are able to find time to rest and relax this summer. I would like to wish everyone a wonderful summer break. I wanted to provide you with a variety of updates based on recent action taken by the IASD Board of Directors. I am hopeful this information will help you plan and prepare accordingly for the 2021-22 school year. As always, please feel free to reach out to your child(ren)’s school or to my office if you have any questions.
Planning To Return Strong in 2021-22
On June 14, 2021, the IASD Board of Directors voted to open our doors for 5-days a week for all grade levels (PreK-12). The IASD administration is preparing for a smooth transition to five days in the fall while keeping the health and safety of our students at the forefront.
Collectively, IASD values in-person learning, and a return to a 5-day week model will limit our ability to offer unlimited computer-mediated (remote learning) opportunities to our students. As such, we are expecting all students to return to full-time in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year. If your family feels more comfortable with remote learning, I am pleased to announce that we are in the process of rebuilding our cyber school (IDEAL) to have more synchronous opportunities for students to select; however, they will be limited by the number of available staff and student interest. We will not continue the process of allowing students to choose to stay home with remote access into the classroom. See below for a summary of the two types of learning options available.
Full-time, In-Person Learning (All Grade Levels)
- Available to all students, PreK through 12th grade
- Five days a week, regular school schedule
- Formerly known as IDEAL
- Limited course/seat availability for students who want to continue with virtual learning
- Designed for students who thrive in an online learning environment
- Combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, focusing on the core content areas with limited elective course offerings based on staffing availability and course requests
Health and Safety Plans
As we prepare to open our doors 5 days a week, it is crucial to provide a clean and safe environment for everyone, using prevention strategies to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. Section 2001(i)(1) of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act requires each local education agency (LEA) that receives funding under the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to develop and make publicly available on the LEA's website a Health and Safety Plan. It is my goal to have the plan completed by the end of the month and displayed on the website for review and feedback. We are currently developing our plan and are hopeful we can approve it at the school board meeting in July.
Our plan must address how it will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff, and it will serve as our local guideline for all instructional and non-instructional school activities during the period of the LEA's ARP ESSER grant.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has informed schools that the masking mandate will end on June 28th and that any further masking requirements are a local decision. The Board of Directors has not had a chance to review these recommendations and will do so in the very near future. Once a decision has been made, I will be sure to inform you all and include the decision in our Health and Safety Plan.
At this time, there is no requirement for students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for school entrance; however, we are hopeful that those students who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic will not be required to be quarantined if an outbreak were to occur. At this current time, I am not sure what direction the Department of Health (DOH) will take regarding quarantines for the 2021-22 school year, but it is our understanding at this time that quarantines will still be imposed on any unvaccinated individuals.
To assist in the distribution of the vaccine, the Indiana Area School District worked with IRMC to conduct two clinics this past school year for interested families. We have partnered up with Giant Eagle to offer a third clinic on July 1, 2021, at the pharmacy located at Giant Eagle. Attached is additional information regarding the clinic and the necessary forms that need to be completed. I am hopeful that this clinic may be of benefit to some of our families and students. Whether or not to get vaccinated is a family decision, and we are simply doing our best to make this opportunity for families who would like to receive the vaccine.
If possible, I am asking that families contact their child’s school nurse to provide them with verification of their child receiving the vaccine. If this information were provided to the school nurse, it may preclude the DOH from having to quarantine vaccinated children. Again, I am not positive that this is the case nor am I requiring the vaccine verification as a mandate. I am simply asking for you to supply us with this information.
I am not sure what direction the DOH will take in regards to quarantines for the 2021-22 school year; however, the District has a plan on how we will move forward with students in grades 6-12 who are placed in quarantine during the upcoming school year. First, students will have access to the lesson plan and all corresponding activities via their teacher’s Google classroom. Some teachers may choose to provide a recorded overview of the day's objectives to provide clarity to the student. If the entire class is quarantined, synchronous learning will occur for all students. Second, secondary students (Grades 6-12) can email their teachers to set up a remote learning session from 2:40 - 3:10 Monday-Friday to get help on their assignments and to address any concerns or questions they may have. Third, IHS has built-in another layer of support considering a vast majority of quarantines derived from that particular building. Live support from a certified teacher (not necessarily your assigned teacher) will be available for additional support on Fridays. Plans are currently being developed for any quarantines that are necessary at the elementary level. We will share those plans with you as soon as they are finalized.
At this time, although it is not yet certain or finalized, it is our understanding that the DOH will continue to impose quarantine orders on unvaccinated individuals. We have no choice in these matters and are required to communicate and adhere to any order for quarantine. Although we are developing plans to limit any instructional loss due to a quarantine, the nature of extracurricular activities makes it impossible to do so in those areas. Students ages 12 and above who participate in extracurricular activities who want to avoid potential quarantines are encouraged to consider getting vaccinated this summer if they have not already.
In closing, after this most unusual school year, we are looking forward to returning to school in the fall. The administration and staff will be hard at work throughout the summer preparing for a new school year. Be sure to check your email during the break, as we anticipate needing to communicate with you occasionally. Happy summer and congratulations to all our 2021 graduates!
All the best,
Mr. Michael J. Vuckovich
Superintendent of Schools