Springton Lake Middle School
Every Student. Every Day. No Matter What.
March 26, 2021
You Take the Good, You Take the Bad...
...you take them both and there you have, the facts of life (with COVID).
Yes, I am dating myself a bit by leading off this week's newsletter with a reference to the theme song of a 1980s sitcom. I'll apologize in advance if you're now unable to stop humming that song for the next three days. However, this really does provide a fairly accurate description of the kind of week that we have had at The Lake...
The Good (and I mean REALLY good)
It was great to have our 6th and 8th grade students back for four days of in-person instruction. In addition to students being able to attend four days, we had a large number of students who have been fully-virtual this year make the decision to come back. Despite having the desks arranged in rows in a very traditional manner, our classrooms have started to appear more typical. I observed students engaged in collaborative, hands-on learning. In some classrooms, all students were physically present which meant that the teacher was no longer juggling "Zoomers" and "Roomers." Starting with the 4th marking period on April 5th, 83% of our students will be enrolled in the in-person cohort. We can't wait to welcome our 7th grade students back to four days of in-person learning after break. Things are definitely heading in a good direction!
The Bad (or at least, not so good)
Unfortunately, we had three students test positive for COVID this week who were in school during their infectious period. The good news is that the none of the cases was linked to in-school transmission. As a result of the positive tests, we were required to implement our contact-tracing protocols. While we have been involved in contact-tracing at other times throughout the school year, the impact was more profound this week. With students now spaced at 3' in the classroom (versus 6') and the contact-tracing guidelines remaining at 6', a greater number of individuals were identified as close contacts and required to quarantine. In some cases, students who just returned to in-person instruction were subsequently quarantined. While I know that this was very disappointing, I do think that this represents the reality - our facts of COVID life - for the next few months. As of this afternoon, to our knowledge none of the students who were quarantined as a close contact have subsequently developed symptoms or tested positive for COVID - and this is a great sign.
When we are notified of a COVID-positive individual, our School Nurse begins the contact-tracing process with the support of teachers and administrators. As soon as possible, our School Nurse will make contact with the families of those students to provide information from the Chester County Health Department. While we do not plan to send a global message to all families each time a student tests positive, we do have a COVID case tracker on the District website that is updated on a weekly basis.
Our experience this week underscores a few important lessons and points:
1. Accurate completion of the daily symptom screener is critical.
2. Students who are ill must stay home from school.
3. Parents should notify the School Nurse as soon as possible if they suspect that their child may have COVID and/or if they are being tested. The sooner we have the information, the sooner that we can begin taking steps to safeguard the school community.
I hope that this information helps to put things in perspective for everyone. I have done my best to be transparent and to provide clear communication to our families. That remains my intention moving forward, while also continuing to respect the privacy of each individual.
Spring Break is here!! Students will be off from school March 29th through April 2nd. We will re-open on Monday, April 5th. Our teachers have not assigned students any work to complete during break. I hope that they take some time to be away from their screens and to get outside. Likewise, I have directed our staff to unplug from school and to take a break. I respectfully ask that you please hold questions and emails for staff until April 5th. In the event of an urgent matter, please email me directly.
Thank you for taking a few moments to review the rest of this newsletter. There are many important updates included. I hope that you have an enjoyable break - stay safe!
Traveling During Spring Break?
The Chester County Health Department is following CDC guidelines for international travel. If you are traveling internationally, the CCHD recommends that you get a COVID test 3-5 days after returning from travel and stay home and quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if the test is negative. If you do not get tested, you should stay home and quarantine for 10 days after travel. Please contact the school nurse to let her know your date of return and if your student will be testing and quarantining for 7 days if the test is negative or if your student will not be getting a test and quarantining for the full 10 days. The nurse will advise you how to fill out the symptom screening survey after your return.
The 2021-2022 School Calendar Has Been Approved
At their regularly scheduled March meeting, the Board of School Directors approved the official school calendar for the 2021-2022 school year. Please be sure to consult the calendar as you consider plans for trips and vacations. The first day of school is Monday, August 30, 2021 - BEFORE Labor Day.
For Your Planning Purposes - PSSA Testing Dates
The Rose Tree Media School District has been informed that the United States Department of Education will not permit states to apply for a waiver from administering standardized tests this year. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has provided school districts with some flexibility about when tests are administered. While more details will be shared in the coming weeks about our plan and process for testing, we wanted to make you aware of the testing dates as soon as possible. Students at Springton Lake will test as follows this Spring:
May 3, 4, & 5 - English Language Arts, all grades
May 10 & 11 - Mathematics, all grades
May 13 - Science, 8th grade only
May 25 & 26 - Algebra I Keystone Examination, only students enrolled in an Algebra I course
Again, ALL other details will be provided to parents and families in the coming weeks.
Get Involved in the PTG
The PTG is a wonderful way to support extracurricular activities that enrich our school community. Nominate yourself or someone else for one of the open Board positions for the 2021-2022 school year. Vice President and Treasurer positions are open, but you can nominate for any position. Don’t be shy, give it a try! The SLMS PTG meets five times per year and supports activities like the Turkey Trot, Day of Service, and Teacher Appreciation, to name a few. Reach out to President@slmsptg.org or VP@slmsptg.org with your nomination or questions.
Important Update - Attendance Procedures
Students who are enrolled for in-person instruction are expected to attend in-person on a consistent basis unless there is an approved reason to be at home - i.e. exposure to COVID, quarantine due to close contact/contract tracing. Students without an approved reason who do not attend in-person when expected will be marked ABSENT - even if they are present on Zoom.
- Please continue to use the daily symptom screener to monitor symptoms and to let us know if your child will be attending in-person each morning.
- If your child is ill, they should not attend school.
- Students who will be absent from school should call the absence hotline (610-627-6500, option 2) and also send a note within 3 days. This step is required in order for us to excuse the absence.
- Students who will be absent for a pre-planned trip should complete and submit the pre-planned absence form.
- When a student is absent from school, they may access work/assignments on Schoology. At this time, we will also still allow students to have access to the class Zoom session if they are well enough to join - even though they have been marked absent.
Spring Sports Begin on April 5th
Spring sports will begin on Monday, April 5th. Athletes will gather for a short meeting in the gymnasium before heading out to the fields. Unless otherwise indicated by a coach, sports will end each day at 4:45 PM. In order for students to tryout and/or practice on April 5th, they must have submitted a completed PIAA form. Registered athletes should have received (or will receive) communication from the coach. Any additional questions about the Spring season may be directed to our Athletic Directors, Ms. Judge or Mr. Booth.
Reminders from our School Nurse - Ms. Hartner
In an effort to continue to keep our students safe and healthy, please keep the following key points in mind:
Please complete the daily SYMPTOM SCREENER for your child as early as possible, but no later than 7:30 AM. This will help to minimize class disruptions for your child.
Students must wear an appropriate face covering to school every day. Neck gaiters and bandanas are not permitted and masks with valves are not considered COVID-safe.
Please keep your student home from school if they are ill. In addition to the criteria contained in the screening tool, please keep your student home for non-COVID related illnesses. Refer to the following resource for more information.
For 6th Grade Students & Families
Please send in documentation of a physical examination, if you have not done so already. Notices were mailed home this week to students who have not sent in the required documentation..
Students are required to have documentation of a dental examination, a Tdap booster and a meningitis vaccination upon entrance to 7th grade. These are usually (but not always) given at the 6th grade physical. A dental examination dated any time after September 1, 2020, is acceptable for the 7th grade dental requirement. Please feel free to fax, email, or send in this information with your child. Parents should also keep a copy for their own records.
Charge Those Chromebooks!
Please help to remind your child to charge their Chromebook on a daily basis before coming to school. Many of our students have become accustomed to working with their devices plugged-in - either at home or in the classroom. With more students now back in the building, and with our efforts to provide them with as much distancing as possible in the classroom, being seated near an outlet is often not possible. Please feel free to borrow the line that I use with the students all of the time - charge your phone, charge your Chrome!
Support Our School with Rx Fundraising
Do you shop at Rite Aid Pharmacy for your prescriptions or other personal needs? If so, your purchases can also benefit our school. Take a moment to register and allow our school to earn funds each time that you visit your local Rite Aid.
Reminder - Lunch is FREE!
Don't forget that the Rose Tree Media School District has been approved to provide FREE meals - breakfast and lunch - to ALL students!
- ALL students under the age of 18 are eligible for the program.
- Participation in the free meal program helps to sustain the Food Services Department (and staff) in the Rose Tree Media School District.
- Participating in this program does not take away from any other family's ability to also participate.
- The USDA will reimburse the Rose Tree Media School District for the meals provided from monies that were not used last year.
- For more information, please contact Becky Smith in our Food Services Department.
- UPDATE ON VIRTUAL MEAL DISTRIBUTION - Distribution of meals for fully-virtual students is being modified. Meal distribution at Media Elementary School is being combined with meal distribution at Penncrest High School. Meals will no longer be distributed at Media Elementary School on Wednesday afternoons. Instead, distribution will now be at Penncrest High School on Wednesdays between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM at the flagpole entrance.
COVID-19 Questions & Assistance
Parents & guardians who have COVID-related questions during the school day should contact our School Nurse, Ms. Hartner by email or phone - 610-627-6512. For COVID-related questions after school hours, you can reach a school district nurse. Contact information is located on the RTMSD website under District Reopening, After Hours-Covid Questions and Answers. There is a nurse available in the mornings before school from 5am to 7am, in the evenings during the week from 4pm to 9pm, on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and on Sunday evenings from 4pm to 10pm.
Weekly Newsletters - Archived Here!
Did you miss a previous week's newsletter? Need to go back to for reference or to access previous information? All of the previous updates are available to you on our website.