Superintendent's Letter - July 22, 2020
Dear Dock Students and Parents,
I trust you are doing well. This has continued to be a unique summer! I’m sure your summer was different than expected but I hope you are finding meaningful experiences and connections.
While this year will be different from other years, we are excited about several new opportunities recently announced for this school year!
1. We added lacrosse as a spring sport for girls – details can be found in Dock's Newsroom.
2. We are planning for a new High School STEM Lab; see this link for details.
3. We added coding to the K-5 technology curriculum and 3-D printers for Middle School.
4. The high school math department is moving to Rosenberger Academic Center with our science and technology departments.
5. We are launching a new program for 5th and 6th grade called Explore!
6. The high school fitness center has been renovated.
The Pandemic Team has been busy discerning how we will begin school in August. Information has been changing and targets constantly moving. While we want to update you on our current plan, please remember we will continue to follow guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Last week PDE released another update. Anything in our plan may change, but we hope we can provide the options described below.
We appreciate your quick response to our survey in mid-July. Over 450 students were represented in the survey results! Your input has helped guide our planning for next year. A brief summary below describes the parent survey:
1. 16% would be interested in a stay-at-home option instead of the on-campus option.
2. 84% would be interested in an on-campus option instead of the stay-at-home option.
3. For those who chose the on-campus schooling option where face coverings were expected, 41% would be more inclined to choose on-campus while 31% would be more inclined to choose the stay-at-home option.
4. For those who chose the on-campus schooling option where face coverings were NOT expected, 52% would be more inclined to choose on-campus while 26% would be more inclined to choose the stay-at-home option.
As the Pandemic Team listened, read, and thought about our options, we felt the best solution for students would be to offer two options to all families, from Early Childhood to Grade 12: A 5-day on-campus option, and a remote learning option. Early Childhood may be a slightly modified version of the description that follows.
1. Students who choose the on-campus model will follow guidelines outlined in the Dock Mennonite Academy Health and Safety Plan.
a. Protocols such as cleaning, physical spacing, and symptom monitoring will be followed.
b. We will continue to monitor the face covering requirements. Based on the July 1 order from the governor’s office, it currently would mean wearing a face covering during specific situations for students and staff. Being a small school, however, gives us flexibility and time periods when students would not need to wear masks. As outlined by PDE, students could remove their masks for the following situations:
i. Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart;
ii. Seated at desks or assigned workspaces at least 6 feet apart;
iii. Engaged in any activity at least 6 feet apart (e.g., face covering breaks, recess, etc.); or
iv. When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.
c. We will be spaced as much as possible. We will not be spaced 6 feet in every room but will work toward that distance as much as possible in each classroom.
d. We are working on adjustments to traffic flow, lunch procedures, and many other areas to lower the risk on campus.
2. The remote learning option is based on the teacher connecting to students at home via a webcam.
a. Students at home would log in through Schoology which will have a Zoom connection.
b. They would log in for each class and watch and participate in the class.
c. The teacher would be able to see the students at home and could keep them involved in the discussion.
d. This will be a synchronous connection for local students; it could be recorded to better accommodate international students.
e. Dock will provide tech support and training for faculty members as needed.
Offering two modes of delivery permits families to choose an option with which they are comfortable, including opportunities to change their status throughout the year.
We plan to share a draft of our Dock Mennonite Academy Health and Safety Plan for your information on Monday, July 27. You will be invited to join a Zoom presentation on Wednesday, July 29, at 10:00 a.m. to hear more about the plan, the options, and to ask questions. This presentation will be recorded for those who are not able to join at that time. We will ask each family to make a decision about the option for your child by Monday, August 3.
We apologize for this short timing. We recognize everyone is eager to know what the fall holds so we want to keep our process moving as quickly as possible, continuing to adjust as state guidance directs. Thanks for your patience with this extraordinary process!
Dr. Conrad Swartzentruber