On Thursday night, at a special meeting, the Deer Lakes School District Board of School Directors unanimously approved the Modified Phased Reopening of Schools Health & Safety Plan
. The multi-pronged approach, which was months in development, was presented by superintendent Dr. Janell Logue-Belden, and in consultation with the Allegheny County Health Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Dr. Logue-Belden said that while the parameters were constantly changing, the district’s core values and objectives never wavered.
"This has been an extraordinarily challenging process for everyone and we are trying our best to respond to the rapidly changing conditions while getting limited and occasionally conflicting guidance from local, state, and federal agencies,” she said. “We are just trying to make decisions that are in the best interest of our children, staff, and community.”
Dr. Logue-Belden added that she knows that there is no set of plans that are going to satisfy everyone. “This is a complex situation and it’s going to impact different families in different ways,” she said. “We don’t have control over very many factors but this entire community has come together through this difficult process and we will continue to do our best meet the challenges we are sure to face moving forward.”
Under the approved plan, students will participate in one of three learning tracks:
- The hybrid learning track features live, in-person instruction two days per week, and distance learning the other three days.
- Distance Learning at Deer Lakes ([email protected]) is a purely online option that allows students to learn alongside their in-person classmates from home and in many instances and through live and some recorded instruction.
- Lancer Academy Online Learning is through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and Waterfront Learning. It allows students to work at their own pace.
The school district calendar will also be impacted by the new plan to allow for proper preparation. The first day of school, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26, is now Monday, Aug. 31. There will also be a Kindergarten Orientation on Friday, Aug. 28 to give the incoming students and their parents the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the school in its current form and to ask questions about it ahead of time. The visit windows will be pre-assigned based on your child’s teacher and will last for 30-minutes each. Please be on the lookout for that information as well as details on our orientation plans for students who have chosen the [email protected]
“It became clear during our Parent Q&A on Monday night that our Kindergarten parents in particular would feel much better about things if they could see for themselves what the building is going to look like and which protocols have been put in place to keep their children as safe as possible,” she said. “We looked at each other and said, ‘You know what, that makes perfect sense.’”
Dr. Logue-Belden said that the feedback Deer Lakes has received throughout the process from students, staff and families has factored heavily into the district’s decision-making. “This has been a very collaborative process from the start,” she said. “They’ve spoken and we’ve listened.”