RA Emails March-July 2020

July 31, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT

Good Afternoon

As we prepare to enter the month of August you have likely been seeing, hearing, and reading much about the reopening of schools in our area and across the nation. While all of our sending districts have not yet made their final determination we are working to ensure that RA is prepared and ready to kick-off the school year in the best way possible given the challenges we are facing.

I feel I must take a moment to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the community of RA. The decisions of the past (almost!) six months have been riddled with emotion, fear, and fact. The unceasing effort of our Trustees and our staff to remain focused on what must be done and what cannot be changed has been inspirational. The support of our families has been no less encouraging. I KNOW that everyone is not ‘happy’ with everything that has happened or what plans for the future may bring, but the acknowledgment that we are doing our best is what truly matters.

It may sound like a bit of a broken record, but I will echo what many others have shared: None of us signed up for this, not one employee or student involved with RA asked for this. We are not trying to change the mission of our school and we are not trying to become a Cyber School…. There are plenty of experts already doing that! Our goal remains to eventually return to our ‘way’ of doing things; hopefully having learned how to do to them even better!

Below you will find some answers to the questions that we are ready and able to answer. More information will continue to come to you in the coming weeks. We will also be hosting a live meeting for our families in the evening on August 10, 2020. Details about accessing this meeting will be forthcoming.  

All the Best,
Dr. Guarino Buli

Hot Topics (FAQs)

Q: Do I need to buy school supplies for online learning?

A: Your child will need supplies to participate in their learning. An updated list of items is being crafted by a group of the teaching staff. If you have not yet bought supplies, we suggest you wait until the ‘at home’ list is shared. If you already purchased a Staples Kit, you will still receive and be able to use this!

Q: When / how do we get our Chromebook, textbooks, other items needed?

A: Lower School Families will be receiving a sign-up to come WITH their child for pick-up of items. For some younger children, this will include orientation to some of the materials as well as computer basics needed. Stay tuned!

Upper School Students will have an assigned day for attendance at school (in safe numbers for limited time spans) during which they will receive textbooks, materials, syllabus, etc. from their teachers.

*If your child or a family member is immunocompromised and CANNOT come to school for one of the above the principals will make arrangements with you directly.

Q: Do I need to buy uniforms for online learning?

A: A uniform is required for any onsite activity (such as above) so it is advisable to have a small stock. If your child is signed up for the ‘Supervision’ option [k-6 only] they will be required to attend in uniform.

Q: What is the student’s daily schedule in the online learning plan?

A: Students will have a daily schedule from 8:00-3:30 pm. This DOES NOT mean they will be on the computer the entire time but they will have daily expectations and routines. Specific schedules by grade/age group will be shared in the next few weeks.

Q: When will my child know who their teachers are / what classes they are taking?

A: The published schedule will be visible on Skyward August 10, 2020. Prior to that date information is subject to change.

Q: What if my student needs to change a class? (Mostly applicable to Upper School students)

A: A Drop-Add Period will occur on August 11, 2020, & August 12, 2020 - virtual options. 

Summer Information

Please check back frequently as this page will be updated as needed throughout the summer.  RA Summer 2020 Information Expired

Updates

Yearbooks

Some of our students have recently received yearbooks in the mail, while others have not. We are getting to the bottom of this mystery!

Apparently, Jostens, the yearbook company mistakenly mailed many of our books. While we did not ask for or pay for this service… it got done! The company is in the process of working with our Yearbook Advisors to mail the rest of the books; Upper School and Lower School, as a courtesy to our families. You should not need to pick up a book and can anticipate one arriving in the mail.

For specific questions or issues please contact our Yearbook Advisors:

Lower School: Lisa.Swiggard@rak12.org

Upper School: anna.schenkel@rak12.org

From the School Nurse:

*Note - Regardless of the online learning plan for the start of our year the PADOH still requires the mandatory immunizations for school-age children. The required immunization list can be found on the July 3rd email below.

There is a 5-day grace period at the start of the school year during which you will need to provide proof of immunization or proof of a scheduled appointment.

Repeat Information:

The following items were included in this communication as Repeated Information from previous emails (as a reference):

From July 3rd Email (below)
  • 2020 Medical Information from the Nurse 
From May 29th Email (below):
  • Busing Information
  • Moving Instructions

July 24, 2020 at 8:26 AM EDT

Parents / Guardians of K-6th Grade:

As you have likely heard or read, RA will be starting the year off as in a FULLY ONLINE learning model. We know that this change will bring about many questions and we are working to develop detailed plans for you. In the meantime, here are some facts about the plan for our Lower School.

All students K-12 will be learning remotely to start the year.

All students K-12 will receive a chrome book from RA, you do not need to purchase a computer.

Supervision on site will be for K-6th Graders

  • Hours - Regular school day hours of 8:00-3:30, following the RA Calendar.
  • Days - 5-day a week expectation, commitment required.
  • Transportation - We are working with districts to secure transportation, you may also drive your child or have them walk if you live close by.
  • Meals - Breakfast & Lunch will be served for the regular cost; Free / Reduced benefits will apply to eligible students.
  • Recess /Breaks - These will be built into the daily schedule to allow for movement, socialization, and hygiene needs.
  • Supervision - Will be provided by RA Staff and Teachers.
  • Rules / Dress Code - RA Code of Conduct and required dress code is the expectation while on campus.

Please fill out this survey to notify the staff of your intention to use the Supervision Model while your child is receiving online learning. This response is required to secure your child's space, plan for staffing, and notify district transportation. If your situation should change we will require a 10-day notice to ensure we can provide adequate staffing and transportation needs.

You MUST be registered with your sending district’s transportation department if you require transportation via the school bus.

This selection DOES NOT affect the delivery of your child's educational program, teaching staff or learning support. This survey is to secure on an on-site supervision commitment only.

Best,
Dr. Guarino Buli 


July 24, 2020 at 2:47 PM EDT

News From RA

Good Afternoon

I am taking some time today to send this email to share some updates but also to hopefully address a few questions.

Yesterday afternoon, our Board of Trustees approved the Second Version of RA’s Health and Safety Plan for Reopening School. This version was developed with support and planning in collaboration with our Middle Leaders, Trustees and Administrators; with input from others in our school community. The approval occurred during a public board meeting. The meeting itself did not allow a capacity of over 100 participants and consequently some of you may have been unable to enter the online meeting. The minutes from this meeting, along with all minutes from public meetings, will be published on the school website once voted upon and approved by the board.

The greatest change in this plan is a move to a FULLY REMOTE mode of learning for the start of the school year. This plan includes an on-site supervision option for students K-6th grade.

This plan was chosen as it was determined the BEST option for both health, safety, planning and being able to provide a consistent and continuous education regardless of future developments or changes ahead of our nation and community. The plan itself will be published to our school website after it is acknowledged as received by PDE.

In some respects this decision allows our staff, families and community to KNOW what is ahead, the decision also will create, predictably, many more questions about planning, logistics and next steps for your students. In an effort to share all of the information with all of our families I am going to refrain from answering individual email questions and attempt to provide answers to questions both asked and anticipated to the entire community. Of course, if you have a specific need for your child or your family myself or someone on our team will respond to you directly, as soon as we are able to do so.

There are many questions asked for which we already have ideas and plans in the works and development; while other specifics will rely on input and cooperation from others outside of our own organization. This will all roll out to you slowly as we get closer to the start of school. We appreciate everyone's patience to allow the information sharing to occur in a systematic fashion.

In the meantime, I encourage you to watch the video recording of yesterday’s meeting, if you were not able to attend. Many of our initial questions are answered and the dialogue will provide you some basic information. The file is large so it is suggested you download and watch from your computer.

All the Best,
Dr. Guarino Buli

Summer Information

Please check back frequently as this page will be updated as needed throughout the summer.  RA Summer 2020 Information Page - Expired

Repeat Information:

The following items were included in this communication as Repeated Information from previous emails (as a reference):

From July 3rd Email (below)

  • 2020 Medical Information from the Nurse 

From June 19th Email (below)

  • Sports PIAA Physical Information Update
  • School Uniform Vendor Sales

From June 5th Email (below)

  • Fall Sports Registration

From May 29th Email (below):

  • Busing Information
  • Moving Instructions

From May 15th Email (below):

  • Yearbooks
  • Junior Class Rings

July 20, 2020 at 8:31 PM EDT

Good Evening

This email comes as a thank you to the 349 families who responded to the survey sent out last Friday, seeking input on our school plans and options for the coming school year. If you have not yet responded, please consider doing so to ensure we have a complete picture of the expectations and needs of our families.  Reopening Learning Format Family Survey

I am also happy to share some data from the survey, as requested by some families. I hope it is helpful to see how others in our community are responding.

Sending Districts for Transportation/County Chart

Represented in the following pie chart, of 349 Responses: 33.8% bused from Norristown SD, 28.9% bused from Phoenixville SD, and the other 37.3 bused from Great Valley, Boyertown, Methacton, OJR, Perkiomen Valley, and Pottsgrove.

Parent Survey Busing District Chart

Safety Requirements Compliance Response Chart 

Represented in the following pie chart, of 349 Responses: 340 (97.4%) would support mandated safety requirements and 12 (3.4%) said they would be unable to follow the mask requirements.

Parent Survey Safety Compliance Level Chart

Reopening Preference Chart 

Represented in the following pie chart, of 349 Responses:  6.9 % prefer all students onsite learning; 39.1% prefer all online distance learning; 36% prefer all students onsite learning on a rotating basis (several days in/several days out); and 18% prefer most students onsite learning with high-risk students distance learning.

Parent Survey Reopening Prefernces

During the week ahead our School Leadership will conduct their yearly planning retreat. As you might imagine much of this year’s time will be spent planning and finalizing decisions regarding opening and successful managing of our school. We anticipate updated plans and details to be available as these meetings unfold.

Our Board of Trustees is planning a public Voting Meeting at the conclusion of the retreat; July 23, 2020, at 4:00 pm. A link to connect and join this meeting will be published shortly.

Best,
Dr. Guarino Buli


July 17, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT

Families of RA:

We are now just about five weeks away from our first days of school for the 2020-2021 School Year. Given the anticipation of the new year, now complicated by the ever-changing news updates and PDE Guidance related to COVID-19, the school leadership is weighing heavily on the various learning platforms which may be best for our students and our staff.

While our overarching goal remains to provide a high-quality education to your child, we must adhere to the now-growing compliance standards around health, safety, and increased sanitation. We are seeking a plan that will allow us to operate consistently, with minimal interruptions in future learning, hoping to avoid a reactionary situation or shut-down. Families and staff have expressed concerns regarding the ability to safely re-open AND remain open.

We are considering online models, which will allow for a well-planned learning environment coupled with supervision and necessary supports. We are sending the following survey to gain a more solid understanding and accurate account of our families’ needs. Please answer the questions on the survey to the best of your ability given your current plans. Learning Format Survey

Please note:

  1. We know things change - Your responses may be updated as we get closer to the start of the school year.
  2. We are looking at an initial plan for the FIRST TRIMESTER, whatever decisions are made, they will be reassessed once the school year gets underway, and may be adjusted.
  3. Online Learning WILL NOT be the model that was used under ‘Crises Planning’ which took place in the spring.
  4. Online Learning WILL include scheduled sessions, with certified teachers, and mandatory attendance parameters.
  5. All students (K-12) will be provided with Chromebooks in the online model - families do NOT need to purchase computers.
  6. Families in need of WiFi will be given support in identifying programs for which they will qualify.
  7. A provision for the supervision of elementary students, during the Online Learning model, is being considered if this becomes evident as the best course for our school community.