Updates from Cocalico School District

Below you will find districtwide communications for parents, guardians, and caregivers of our Cocalico students. Our continued goal is to provide updates for you as we receive additional information. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through any new information that is presented to us and consider its application to the Cocalico School District.

Update: August 7, 2020

It’s hard to believe that summer vacation will be over in just a few short weeks! We have been very busy preparing for the upcoming school year, and we have shared many of our plans with you over the course of the past few weeks. In fact, many of today's FAQs found under the Resources link in the left sidebar  do not provide new information; instead, they reiterate or clarify specific topics from our previous communication with you. I will continue to provide weekly updates from now until the start of the school year, but you will also begin receiving more building-specific communication from your child’s principal.

As always, if you have specific questions, please check in with the building principal or a district administrator. We will continue to do our best to provide you with information and offer support in any way we can. We recognize there are many changes and this will not be a routine start to the school year, but we are committed to providing a positive experience for our students when they return to school.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Cocalico School District. We are very excited about seeing our students again in just a few weeks!

Update: July 31, 2020

I am writing to provide you with some very important updates to our plans for the upcoming school year. As you know, we are provided with new guidance and information at every turn, and that can impact our plans for reopening school at the end of August.

One of the most critical components of our planning is related to the number of students we will be serving in our traditional and virtual programs. Therefore, in early June, we asked parents to provide anonymous responses about the educational options they planned to select for their children. By the time the survey closed, nearly 72% selected the traditional program, 14% selected our Cocalico Connections virtual program, and 14% selected other choices. Based on these results, we felt confident that the number of students in our traditional classrooms would be low enough to ensure the minimum 3-foot distancing that was recommended by sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. We provided that information to parents and explained that schedules and class rosters could not be finalized without further information from them. In July, we asked parents to provide us with more definitive plans for each one of their children. We also asked parents to submit any questions they might have, and then we spent time on the phone and through email responding to concerns and challenges that parents were facing as they considered their choices for the fall.

This past Friday, we closed the second parent survey and reviewed the selections that had been made for our students. We immediately noted that the results were very different from those we had collected in June. This time, 83% selected the traditional program, 14% selected our Cocalico Connections program, and 3% selected other choices. We were very excited that so many of our families opted to stay with Cocalico, but we knew we’d have to consider the implications for each level.

At the elementary level, the results did not necessitate any change in our plans for the traditional program. The low enrollment at the elementary level, smaller class sizes, large classrooms, and the ability to keep students in a cohort will still enable us to space students at least 3 feet apart throughout the day. Therefore, our elementary students in our traditional program will still be scheduled to come to school every day if we remain in the Green phase of reopening and no further changes are required.

At the secondary level, the results necessitated some immediate changes in our planning. With larger class sizes, smaller classrooms, and a greater variety of classes, we could no longer assure the minimum 3-foot spacing between students in the classroom setting, the cafeteria, or the hallways. We looked at many different scenarios with our teacher representatives, School Board members, and local leaders in healthcare, but we could not find a way to bring in all our traditional students every day within the constraints of the safety requirements imposed upon us. Therefore, in an effort to maintain a safe and responsible return to school, our middle school and high school students in our traditional program will be operating on a hybrid schedule at the start of the school year if we are in the Green phase of reopening and no further changes are required. This will reduce the number of students who are in school at any given time, and we will be able to maintain 3-foot spacing or more throughout the school day. Teachers will be in their classrooms every day, providing lessons that include a combination of real-time activities and posted assignments for on-site and off-site students.

Schedules for each of the phases of reopening, along with notes about what we will expect from our students can be found by clicking on "Reopening Plans 20-21" in the left sidebar.  In addition, information about bussing, hallways, use of the cafeteria, and more can be found in that section. 

It is also important to note that we are able to re-assign six full-time teachers to facilitate and support our students who are signed up for our Cocalico Connections program in grades K-6. They will be working closely with students and families to create a sense of community and high levels of engagement with these students. In addition, we will be able to assign numerous other teachers to facilitate and support Cocalico Connections students in grades 7-12 as they work through the more specialized courses that will be provided.

We recognize that this new information creates another set of details for parents to consider for the fall. At this point, we are beginning to set up course assignments and create rosters for our teachers. If you plan to change the program selection you made for your child, please email your principal as soon as possible, and no later than August 11, 2020. Schedules will be adjusted in the upcoming weeks and parents will have access to them after they complete the annual Student Information Verification (SIV) forms that can be accessed at www.powerschool.cocalico.org.

We also recognize that this new information may cause you to reconsider plans for childcare and supervision of your children if we need to offer remote learning at any point. To further assist with your planning, several local organizations have offered to help families who are concerned that their work schedules will not match with their children’s school schedules. For your convenience, contact information has been provided:
o Camp Conquest, Denver (717) 336-2541 or https://campconquest.org/conquest-cares/
o Cocalico Care Center, Denver (717) 336-4007
o Cocalico Community Church, Reinholds (717) 312-8222
o Refreshing Mountain Camp, Stevens

Certainly, this is a lot of information to digest, and it may raise new questions you have not considered before, especially at the secondary level. Therefore, Mr. DiMatteo and Mr. Irvine will be providing parents and students with some building-specific information through SchoolMessenger in the next few days. The messages from the two principals will each include a link to an information presentation about what to expect at the high school and middle school when students come back to school.

In addition, please reach out to your child’s principal or district administrators as you consider the implications this has on your child and your family. We know this is not an easy time for anyone, and we sincerely care about the success of each one of our students and will do whatever we can to ensure a positive return to school in August.

Update: July 24, 2020

We hope your summer is going well and you are continuing to find creative ways to enjoy activities with your family.

Your weekly update from the Cocalico School District can be found by clicking on the Resources link in the left sidebar. Since our most recent survey opened two weeks ago, we have heard back from many of you. If you have not yet completed the survey, please do so by the end of the day today. Click here  to access the survey.

Your input is extremely important to us as we determine the details for reopening school in August. We cannot finalize schedules and course assignments until we know the options that families have selected for their children. At this point it appears that 80%-90% of the students will remain in the traditional program, and most of our other students will sign up for our Cocalico Connections program. However, we want to be sure we don’t miss anyone as we begin to set up class rosters and create schedules that will work for both sets of students.

We greatly appreciate the many phone calls and emails throughout this summer and the comments that were included in your survey responses. Your feedback helps us to identify the various needs we must address in our planning process. Though there will be no solution that is ideal for everyone, we will do our best to provide a safe environment for providing a strong academic program that is coupled with the necessary social and emotional supports that will help every child to thrive. We know that this global pandemic is impacting every aspect of your lives, and it is not easy for families. We are grateful that you are reaching out to us to discuss the specific needs that you have, and we are fully committed to offer support and guidance at every turn as we begin the upcoming school year.

We wish you and your family a safe and healthy week ahead. As always, please reach out to your child’s principal or district administrators with any questions you might have.

Update: July 17, 2020

We hope you and your family are doing well!

As promised, we are providing you with additional details regarding our reopening plans. Please review the newest FAQs, found under "Resources" in the left sidebar, for information about bussing, hallways, classrooms, and much more. If you have difficulty opening the attachment, please call your child’s school for a hard copy of the information.

If you have not already done so, please complete the Parent Survey (click HERE) that was sent out last week. If you need to discuss any of the information or you need help in making a decision, please call your child’s principal for assistance sometime in the upcoming week. We kindly request that all survey responses are completed by July 24, 2020 so that we can begin developing schedules and class rosters for our students.

As always, thank you for your continued commitment to your children and their academic and social needs as well as their physical safety. We know it is extremely difficult to select an option that is ideal for each one of these areas. Therefore, we will continue to do our best to provide information that can help you make decisions that are most suited for your child. If we can help in any way, please let us know.

Update: July 10, 2020

Thank you to the many families who have reached out to our administrative team to discuss our plans for the fall. These emails and conversations have helped us to work through a variety of details for coming back to school in August.

Last week we sent out information about our Board-approved Health and Safety Plans, which now serve as the basis for our school reopening plans. Your feedback, information from our faculty survey, and guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics have helped us map out more of the details for returning to school. See the most recent FAQs with some of those details.

To further assist with your planning, several local organizations have offered to help with childcare and supervision for families who are concerned that their work schedules will not match with school schedules. For your convenience, contact information has been provided:
o Camp Conquest, Denver (717) 336-2541
o Cocalico Care Center, Denver (717) 336-4007
o Cocalico Community Church, Reinholds (717) 312-8222
o Refreshing Mountain Camp, Stevens  

Finally, a message from the Cocalico School Board can be found under the "Resources" tab in the left sidebar. The Board has been actively involved in reviewing our guiding documents, survey results, and other input. They are confident that the district’s initial reopening plans are sound and will address the varying needs of our students and families.

As you consider the options and what they mean for you and your family, please provide us with some additional feedback about each one of your children in a follow-up school-level survey by Friday, July 24, 2020. Click here to access the survey. We need this input for several reasons: (1) to develop class lists and schedules for students in our traditional program, (2) to begin working with families who are interested in our Cocalico Connections virtual program, and (3) to develop bus stops and schedules for our students who will use our transportation services to come to school.

We recognize there are still many more questions that need to be addressed in the weeks to come. More specific details can be determined after we hear back from parents about their plans for the fall. Starting next week and continuing for the remainder of the summer, we will provide a weekly update every Friday by 9:00 AM. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to your building principal or other administrators with any questions or concerns.

Update: June 24, 2020

Parents and Guardians of Cocalico students recently completed our School Reopening Survey. By the time the survey closed on June 19, 2020, more than 1,500 responses were collected. Families of children from all age groups were represented in those responses. The following feedback was provided:


  • Approximately 60% of the responses prioritized “Maximizing the amount of students’ time in school” over “Taking all possible precautions to minimize the risk of students’ exposure to COVID-19.”
  •  The three items most frequently selected as most important to consider when schools reopen were (1) a schedule that is consistent from week to week, (2) maximizing the amount of time children spend in the school building, and (3) addressing academic recovery for the time missed this spring.
  • Responses to “What is the single most critical factor we should consider as we are making plans for the reopening of school?” varied greatly. Keeping children safe, getting students back in school, developing normalcy, maintaining a quality academic program, keeping schedules consistent, considering the needs of students with disabilities or health risks, addressing the social and emotional needs of children, avoiding the use of masks, and offering options for learning are just a few of the most common responses that were provided.

Options for Learning:

  • 86% of the responses indicated a plan for children in the family to return to Cocalico this fall. Nearly 72% of the responses showed a preference for the traditional program and approximately 14% of the responses evidenced a preference for the “Cocalico Connections” virtual program. The remaining 14% of responses indicated other possible choices that may be considered.
  • There was no clear preference for alternating daily or weekly schedules if the district must develop a hybrid schedule. Approximately 52% of the responses preferred alternating daily, and approximately 48% preferred alternating weekly.
  • Nearly 80% of the responses indicated that 1-2 or 3-4 hours of work a day would be preferred on days that children are scheduled to learn at home. In addition, nearly 13% of the responses indicated they preferred several hours a day for elementary and a full day for secondary. Approximately 7% indicated that 5-7 hours of work each day would be preferable.


  • More than 65% of the responses indicated that childcare could be arranged if there are days that children would not be scheduled to learn in school. Less than 35% indicated they would have no such options.


  • More than 62% of families indicated that they would be willing to arrange for their children’s transportation in order to maximize the number of students who could be in school each day. Less than 38% indicated they would not be willing to do so.


  • Nearly 57% of families deemed it appropriate that “No students at any level should be required to wear masks in school.” Approximately 3% deemed it appropriate for only high school students to wear masks in school, and more than 40% deemed it appropriate for all students or at least middle and high school students to wear masks in school.

The Cocalico School District will do its best to consider the varying needs and perspectives of our families as we work through the various requirements from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). This input, coupled with guidance from health professionals and emergency management leaders in Lancaster County, will help us determine how best to apply the PDE requirements in the Cocalico School District. Once more detailed plans for the reopening of school can be solidified, those plans will be shared with Cocalico families.

Update: June 11, 2020

Dear parents, guardians, and caregivers,

I hope you are enjoying a delightful start to summer vacation. Now that school is over for the year and Lancaster County has officially moved from the Red to Yellow phase of reopening, there are many more opportunities for travel or meeting with friends and family. Hopefully, this will provide a welcome reprieve from the stay-at-home challenges we’ve faced in recent months.

As you begin planning for the remainder of the summer and start thinking about the upcoming school year, please be aware of some guidance that was recently released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). This Preliminary Guidance for Phased Reopening of Schools summarizes recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, maps these to the state’s Red/Yellow/Green reopening plan, and serves as a starting point for school leaders to consider in preparation for the upcoming school year.

As per the Preliminary Guidance, the Cocalico School District has assembled a Pandemic Team to develop Health and Safety Plans for all school reopening activities, including instruction and extra-curricular activities. The Health and Safety Plans will be tailored to the unique needs of our school district and county, in consultation with local health agencies and our neighboring school districts. They will outline protocols for each one of the reopening phases so that staff and families can know what to expect as we move from one phase to the next, or back again. Thus, when the county is in the Yellow phase, we will follow a pre-determined plan. When the county is moved to the Green phase, we will follow a modified, but also pre-determined plan. And if we need to move back to the Red phase, there will be yet another pre-determined plan that we will follow. This will make it easier for everyone to prepare for any scenario we could face in the upcoming months.

The Department of Education has informed us that additional considerations will be released throughout the month of June, and the Preliminary Guidance that was released last week is quite likely to be updated. Therefore, the draft Health and Safety Plans that we develop for Cocalico School District are likely to be edited several times before they are ready for School Board approval and submission to PDE. Once Board approved, the Health and Safety Plans will be posted on our website and details will be shared with parents, guardians, and caregivers.

To assist us in our planning, we need some information from you with regard to childcare and supervision, transportation, and other such matters. To that end, please complete this School Reopening Feedback Survey by Friday, June 19th. If you cannot open the survey link, you may access it from our website. Or you may call the school your child attends and ask for a hard copy to be mailed to you.

As always, we will do our best to consider the safety and well-being of your children, as well as their educational needs. However, we recognize that it will be impossible for us to develop Health and Safety Plans that fully address every need for every family. Once released, any challenges that our plans create for your family may be discussed with your child’s Principal or our Assistant to the Superintendent and Pandemic Team Coordinator, Dr. Steve Melnyk, so that we can help you to find reasonable solutions for your children.

In the meantime, enjoy the freedom to visit the park, go camping, host a family picnic, and experience some level of normalcy for a while. We will provide you with additional updates after we have been able to work through more of the requirements for reopening in August.
Update: May 28, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Thank you for your outstanding commitment to helping your children learn and grow during the past few months. I know these were challenging times for all involved, but with your support, we have overcome many obstacles. Together, we have learned a great deal about navigating online tools and resources and helping children to engage in their lessons. As educators, we are more prepared than ever to offer a variety of strategies and supports for children when they come back to school for the 2020-2021 school year. Though there are many unanswered questions, I am confident that our combined efforts will enable us to have a successful start to the year. We will continue to communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and adapt to any situation that may come our way. As we consider the possibilities for what lies ahead, it seems important to provide you with one more set of FAQs. Please click here to access the document. Some of them pertain to the upcoming summer months, while others pertain to the upcoming school year.

Now, as you help your children to wrap up their final tasks for the year, I hope you can anticipate a more relaxed pace for a little while. Hopefully, you will have the opportunity to enjoy activities that may not have been available to you during recent weeks, and you can take advantage of the freedom to mingle with friends and family and to travel to your favorite vacation spots. Then in August, I hope your children can eagerly re-engage in onsite, live instruction here at school. I can’t emphasize enough how much we are all looking forward to having the opportunity to see them again!

In the meantime, best wishes for a fantastic summer. See you in August!

Update: April 22, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Thank you for the many ways in which you are partnering with us during this time. We greatly appreciate all the support you are giving your children at home as they work through their online lessons and other assigned activities. Your active involvement in the learning process is a critical component in the success of our students.

Click here for new FAQs based on some of the questions we have received. However, I anticipate that much of the remaining communication for the rest of this school year will be provided by teachers and principals, so you will likely not hear directly from me as frequently as you did during the final weeks of March and the early weeks in April. As we progress through the remaining weeks of school, I wish you and your family all the best. Certainly, this has been a challenging time for our community and the world at large. We miss seeing your children and each other in a face-to-face format, and we look forward to the time when we can all return to school again.

Update: April 9, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Today we received the disheartening announcement that schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. We are very disappointed to know that any opportunity to work with students in person will not be possible. Instead, all education that is provided by the district during the remaining weeks of the 2020-2021 school year will need to occur through our “Continuity of Education” plan. We hope your children have been benefitting from the lessons and activities that have been posted by their teachers thus far. We are grateful to the families who helped their children to establish a routine for learning at home. Your support will continue to be an essential part of our students’ success.

Now that schools are closed for this academic year, our plans for the “Continuity of Education” program have become even more critical. Here is a progression of where we started, and where we are now:
o During the initial two weeks of our school closure, the Pennsylvania Department of Education advised public schools to shut down completely.
o During the first extension of the closure, districts were encouraged to begin some type of “Continuity of Education,” but with limited requirements of students, due to concerns about inequitable access to the resources provided by schools.
o Now, the Department of Education is expecting school districts to provide education for all students. Any lack of technology resources (access to devices and internet services) is to be addressed by the school district.

As such, we wish to reiterate that any students who still need devices or internet connection in order to participate in our Continuity of Education program will be provided with these supports. The attached FAQs provide more details on this topic. In addition, special education teachers, reading specialists, counselors, home and school visitors, and administrators are all available to offer support and assistance to children who require additional help with the assignments or with other challenges they may be facing.

Because of these additional supports we are able to offer our students, we are no longer considering our “Continuity of Education” program an optional program for students. Every child is expected to participate. If there is a hardship or lack of resource that makes it difficult to engage with the lessons that are provided, we request that you contact your child’s principal so that we can help to address any barriers to learning.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers, your support plays a critical role in ensuring that your children experience success in their educational program. We are sincerely hoping to promote all students to the next grade level or course, just as we would have done had they been in school. But that does mean we expect their participation in the lessons that are provided. Please, ensure that your children set aside some time each day to complete assignments that are posted by their teachers. This is a very important part of helping them to stay on track for a successful completion of the 2019-2020 school year, as well as, a successful start to the 2020-2021 school year.

If you have any questions about this letter or the most recent FAQs, please reach out to the appropriate school personnel for assistance. We are all committed to the educational progress of your children and want to do whatever we can to make these next few weeks and months a positive experience for them.

Update: March 31, 2020

The Governor extended the “Stay-at-Home” order to April 30, 2020. What does that mean for schools?
Schools in Lancaster County are closed indefinitely. Governor Wolf did not give an end date for this additional extension to our school closure; however, we know that schools will be closed for the month of April, at the very least.

Will this change anything with regard to our “Continuity of Education” program?
Superintendents were informed today that our “Continuity of Education” programs do not need to be revised at this point. However, there may be additional resources that become available through the Pennsylvania Department of Education that may be used to supplement the activities and materials that are posted by our teachers.

How will teachers know whether students are engaging with the materials that are posted?
Teachers may design a variety of ways for students to participate in activities or to show their work. At the secondary level, teachers have the ability to check which students have viewed their pages on Schoology.

What if a teacher gives feedback or an activity is scored? Will that affect a student’s grade?
No. Even if teachers give feedback to students in a format that appears like a grade (i.e., 8/10 correct) or if an assignment in Schoology is scored automatically, that will not affect students’ report cards or impact their academic records.

Other districts seem to be using live videoconferencing sessions with their students. Why would Cocalico not do the same?
Due to privacy concerns for students and their families, as well as, for teachers and their families, we are recommending that staff members do not conduct live video conferences with students using programs like Zoom, etc. We understand that there may be a few situations where live video conferences may be necessary; in those circumstances, staff members are required to obtain approval from their immediate supervisor prior to utilizing a format such as this.

What does this extended closure mean for Camp Swatara and other events that were scheduled during the month of April?
All sessions for Camp Swatara have been cancelled. We explored the possibility of offering several one-day experiences, but even that will no longer be a possibility due to a number of factors. We know this is a significant loss to our fifth graders, and we deeply regret the circumstances. In addition, all other planned events during the month of April will need to be cancelled (or postponed for a later date, if possible). We will know more about the status of early May events once a determination is made about a date we can return to school.

Update: March 30, 2020

What type of activities will be available through Cocalico’s Continuity of Education program?
In grades K-5, examples of activities may include:
● Pre-recorded sessions to talk to students about resources that are posted, to review a concept, or to read a book
● Practice activities (i.e., Study Island: Main Idea – Lesson #3)
● Virtual field trips, suggested science experiments, or other hands-on projects

In grades 6-12, examples of activities may include:
● Schoology sessions, lessons, or activities for each week in each course, related to content that students are missing.
● The format may include one or both of the following:
o Review or enrichment
o Instructional activities and a way to check for students’ understanding
○ Instructional Activities may include videos, screencasts, textbook videos, textbooks posted online, other online resources, PowerPoints, posted articles or notes
○ Checks for Understanding may include online journals, online discussion posts, uploaded assignments, standards-based practice activities (i.e., Study Island)

Our plan is to provide asynchronous learning to students. Students will be able work on activities when it is convenient for them, rather than needing to login at a specific time. As a result, parents should not be expecting to receive “live” instruction on a daily basis. Telecommuting capabilities like Zoom will not be used to create live lessons in regular education classes.

Are students required to do the work?
Based on guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, we cannot require students to complete the work during this time due to constraints that may exist in some of our students’ current situations. However, we are committed to providing quality materials that will promote learning. Your support and encouragement to engage with the materials is critical to ensuring that your child will benefit from this opportunity.

Will work be graded?
Projects or activities that children complete or submit electronically through Continuity of Education will not be graded. Teachers may still offer feedback to students on their submissions, but none of the feedback will become part of students’ academic records.

Where will the educational activities be posted?
In grades K-5, all activities will be accessible through Google. A notification will be sent to parents each week when activities are posted on the first student day of that week. Elementary families who are in need of printed materials can pick them up at their child’s school from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on Thursdays.
In grades 6-12, materials will be posted through Schoology in each child’s course. New activities will be available by 10:00 a.m., either on the first student day of each week or daily, based on how each teacher decides to upload the material.

Will YouTube content be filtered?
Yes. Cocalico School District will be implementing a feature on our student web filter that allows access to YouTube videos that our filtering company, Lightspeed Systems, has categorized as “Educational” and “News.” This will offer an opportunity for teachers to direct students to educational content found on YouTube.

When are teachers available if we have questions?
On each student day, teachers will take approximately four hours to be online monitoring student work. In many cases, those hours will be from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. However, we are giving teachers the discretion to be flexible with those hours, depending on the circumstances. Regardless of the timeframe that is selected, all teachers will respond to student and parent questions within approximately 24 hours, excluding weekends.

What if my child needs tech support with a district-provided device?
We have a Google Form that is posted on the district website for students to submit requests for tech support. Through a series of questions, the form will help direct them to the appropriate individual. To access the form, go to www.cocalico.org and search for “Tech Support” found under the “Students” tab.

What if my child is receiving additional services such as speech, special education, or reading support?
Special education teachers will be in touch with parents and students as needed. Specialists for other areas will also reach out to children and families to provide review and practice activities that are appropriate for the children they support.

What if my child is struggling with anxiety or other emotional challenges during this time?
Counselors and Home and School Visitors will be available to provide support to children and their caregivers during this time. Please check your school’s website and email them with your concerns.

Will schools still be serving lunches?
Yes, we are committed to providing meals to students. Children are no longer required to be present during pick up times. However, we are modifying our schedule, starting on Monday, March 30, 2020. Meals will be served on the following days:
Monday: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Tuesday: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches
Thursday: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches
We will also continue delivering meals for qualifying families who do not have transportation. If you are in this situation, please call your child’s principal to determine if you qualify for this service

Update: March 25, 2020:

Now that students will not be in school until at least April 14, 2020, will anything be offered to them online?
Our plan is to offer “Continuity of Education” to students. Teachers will provide optional, non-graded enrichment materials, opportunities for curriculum exploration, and suggestions for educational activities that are appropriate for the grade level and content area(s) they teach.

Initially, we were told that there were limits regarding the delivery of online education. Has that changed?
Yes. Further direction was issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to all school districts on March 24, 2020:
Continuity of Education is the overarching term for any educational practices that occur in the event of a prolonged school closure. It is important that students have the opportunity to develop and maintain skills while away from the customary school environment. This can be achieved through Planned Instruction, Enrichment and Review or a combination thereof.
1. Planned Instruction: Planned Instruction is formal teaching and learning similar to that which occurs in a classroom setting. Within this process, teachers use planned courses of instruction of new concepts/skills aligned to grade level standards.
2. Enrichment and Review: Enrichment and Review consists of informal activities that reinforce or extend students’ prior learning. New standards and skills are not addressed through Enrichment and Review.

 PDE strongly encourages all schools to provide some type of Continuity of Education for all students in the most appropriate and accessible ways possible, while also honoring the Governor’s guidance for aggressive social distancing of at least six feet between individuals.

When will Continuity of Education begin?
Teachers will begin to make this available to students, starting Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Currently, we are working through various details and gearing up for teacher training that will be offered on March 30 and 31. More specific information will be shared with families on Monday, March 30, regarding access to materials and expectations for students.

Will my child need a device to complete these activities?
At the elementary level, students will be able to use devices for some activities as well as receive handouts, provided a family member can pick them up from the school. For grades 6-12, teachers will primarily use Schoology as a means to post activities and communicate with students. In each case, families will be directed where they can access available content.

What if we don’t have a device at home and didn’t complete the survey in the March 23rd update?
Please click here to complete the information. The survey is also available on the district website.

Will there be other online enrichment opportunities available for my child as we await the rollout of the district’s Continuity of Education plan?
Yes, starting today, March 25, a new At Home Resources page will be available on the district website. There are numerous links to educational sites that are sorted by grade level and content area. You can access the page by clicking here or by visiting the District website and clicking on the At Home Learning link under the photo banner.

What if I want to work with my child and prefer not to use online methods to do so?
Elementary enrichment packets will be available for pick up at each elementary school during the lunch pick up times. This week, those times are between 11:00-1:00 each school day.

Not every school district seems to be handling these school closures in the same way. Why are there differences among the districts?
There are many factors that can impact local decisions. Therefore, there will always be some differences among school district. That is especially true during this time; decisions need to be made quickly as we attempt to keep up with changing conditions, so it is more challenging than ever to coordinate efforts with other districts. Here in Cocalico, we are trying hard to consider our resources, the degree to which staff and students are prepared for an online learning experience, how feasible it is to get material resources in the hands of families, and so on. Though there are limits imposed upon us, we are fully committed to doing what we can to support students and families during this unprecedented time.

What about events such as Kindergarten registration?
Due to the closure of schools for the next two weeks, all Kindergarten Registration sessions are cancelled. We recognize that parents and children are extremely excited to begin the Kindergarten Registration process. Please know that upon our return, we will work extremely hard to reschedule these sessions. Parents will be contacted as soon as there is a plan in place.

What about other spring events like Camp Swatara, prom and graduation?

At this time, we simply do not have an answer. We will do everything we can to hold special events, but some of these details will be determined by the Governor’s directives or decisions made by the host organizations. The length of school closures and the flexibility of other organizations will determine what can be rescheduled at a later date. As we receive more guidance, we will work to update families. We recognize that these are important milestones in the lives of our students, and we will do our best to consider how to maintain at least some of these traditions. Graduation ceremonies are of particular importance, and we will do everything we can to maintain this celebratory event for our graduating seniors. They deserve to be honored for their achievements, and we know it is a very high priority for them, their families, and the staff who have educated them.

Update: March 23, 2020:

The Governor says schools will be closed for two more weeks. What does that mean for Cocalico?

Today Governor Wolf announced a two-week extension to our school closure. In a follow-up statement, the Pennsylvania Department of Education clarified that the first possible date of return for students will be April 9, 2020. This is a snow make-up day for Cocalico, just one day prior to our four-day spring break. Because the Governor further indicated that our closure could extend beyond this time, it makes sense to plan now (rather than later) that students will not be back in school until after the spring recess. Thus, the Cocalico School District will tentatively plan for students to return to school on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, if we are authorized to do so at that time.

How can families provide learning opportunities at home during this extended school closure?
We are creating a site for suggested enrichment activities and curriculum exploration that is tailored to grade levels and/or content areas. It will be available to families on the district website by Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

What if access to technology is limited? Can children obtain print materials?
Upon request, some material resources will be provided to elementary students. In addition, we are working on ways to provide devices and Internet access to families. To obtain a better understanding of the unique needs that families may be facing during this time, please complete the following survey: https://forms.gle/eUGhCJissXwoA2f56 We will use the information you provide to offer support as needed.

We have the devices we need, but our Internet service is unreliable. Are other options available?
Blue Ridge Cable has an option. Please see the resource 

Will meals continue to be provided during this extended closure?
Yes. We will continue to provide meals from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. each day this week. If that schedule changes in the upcoming weeks, we will be sure to notify parents and guardians. If they are unable to drive to school to pick up the meals that are provided, parents and guardians should contact the child’s principal to see if they are eligible to have meals delivered to their homes.

Update: March 19, 2020:
Below are additional FAQs shared with families and staff on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Children’s instruction has been interrupted. Will they still need to participate in PSSA and/or Keystone testing that was scheduled to occur this spring?
The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced today, March 19, 2020, that all PSSA, PASA, and Keystone testing is cancelled for the 2019/2020 school year.

I know food is provided to children age 18 and under from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at each of the elementary buildings. What if my family doesn’t have transportation to pick up the meals?
Certain families may qualify for the grab-and-go meals to be delivered to them. Contact your building principal for more information.

Are there other local organizations or agencies providing food during this time?
Stevens Fire Company is providing grab-and-go lunches and dinners. Click here for more information.

How can we help more of our families connect to the Internet?
For families that need assistance with wireless and Internet connectivity, there is a document in the Resource folder located on the left-hand side of this page or click here to open it directly. Please share this information with families who might benefit from these resources.

Are the school buildings still open?
Starting Monday, March 23, 2020, and throughout the remainder of next week, all offices will be closed. Maintenance staff will continue with deep cleaning of the properties and food services will be on the premises to prepare and deliver lunches from 11:00-1:00. If you have questions, please email the building principal or leave a voicemail at the school. Staff will be checking messages and returning phone calls as necessary.

Can schools keep playgrounds, basketball courts, the running track, or other facilities open to the community during this time?
No. Pursuant to Governor Wolf’s latest order, recreational and community facilities should not be kept open.

Is the information in the school newsletter accurate?
Next week, community members will be receiving the spring newsletter. Please disregard any dates related to spring events. The newsletter was printed prior to Governor Wolf’s order to close schools. Any new information with dates for upcoming school events will be shared with families once more details become available.

Update: March 17, 2020

Please see below for some additional FAQs for parents, guardians, and caregivers regarding our two-week school closure.

Where can we get meals for our children?
The health and safety of our students are of utmost importance to us. So, while our buildings are closed due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we will be providing FREE meals to any child under the age of 18. Beginning tomorrow (March 18) and continuing every weekday through Friday, March 27, Cocalico School District will be distributing breakfast and lunch foods. Drive-thru service will be offered at all 3 elementary schools from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. This service will be available at the back of the buildings. Please look for the “Acts of Love” signs. Children must be present to receive the meals.

How can I help families who are in need of assistance?
Multiple people have offered assistance to help families during this time. We are advising interested individuals to donate money to the Cocalico Family Fund. Donations can be earmarked for specific causes and sent to Cocalico School District Central Office (800 S. 4th St., Denver, PA 17517) or online at www.cocalicoeducationfoundation.org.

What if my family and I need assistance?
Please contact your building principal with any specific concerns or needs you may have.

What will happen with Kindergarten registration?
Kindergarten registration is currently scheduled to begin on March 30, 2020. At this point, we have not postponed this event. It is the Kindergarten enrollment conferences that have been cancelled. If schools are closed for more than two weeks, families will be notified of new Kindergarten registration dates.

Will the district be offering online education for students?
We have been receiving questions concerning virtual education and whether the district will transition to an online model to deliver instruction. Currently, we are not able to offer this type of education for the following reasons:
• Student access to devices and the Internet is not consistent across the district.
• Parents and guardians may not be home during the day to offer assistance and support with online learning.
• The district is not able to provide specially designed instruction for our students with special needs or for our English Language Learners. We have specialists within the district who are responsible for delivering services based on individual student needs. This instruction is difficult to deliver online.
• It would be difficult to educate and engage our youngest learners using strictly online learning for the required amount of daily instruction (6+ hours).

Update: March 16, 2019

Dear parents, guardians and caregivers,

Though there are more questions than answers right now, we’ve tried our best to respond to some of the initial questions about this mandatory two-week closure that are coming our way. Click here for a FAQ sheet for your review. If you have additional questions, please contact your building principal. We will do our best to provide appropriate guidance, based on what we know at this point in time.

We appreciate your patience as we sort through this challenging time.

Update: March 13, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers:

This is an update to the announcement that was shared with you earlier this afternoon. At approximately 3:00 p.m. today, Governor Wolf announced that all schools in Pennsylvania are required to close for two weeks, starting on Monday, March 16, 2020.

All scheduled events for students and staff will be cancelled for this two-week period.

At this point, we have not received guidance regarding make-up requirements or other such details. When we receive additional guidance, we will pass that along to you.

If you have specific questions that are unique to the needs of your child, please reach out to your building principal.

Update: March 13, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers:

As is apparent in every local media source, the impact of COVID-19 is rapidly reaching our area. Though there are no confirmed cases in Lancaster County at the time this letter is being written, the spread of the virus in nearby counties is impacting local decisions. In a 2:00 p.m. press conference on March 12, 2020, Governor Wolf called for a closing of all schools and daycare facilities in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Wolf also encouraged the postponement of large community events and cautioned against attendance at public venues throughout the rest of Pennsylvania. In addition, he asked Pennsylvania residents to refrain from all non-essential travel.

In the hours since that press conference, many of the schools in neighboring counties have begun closing their schools for a period of several days. In addition, at least six entire states in the nation have closed all schools.

Based on these conditions, the Cocalico School District, along with other Lancaster County school districts will be CLOSING school for all students and professional staff, starting on Monday, March 16, 2020 and continuing through Friday, March 20, 2020. We will be re-evaluating the situation during the latter part of next week to determine if any continued closing is necessary beyond the one-week period. Additional communication will be issued to our community prior to the end of the week.

As mentioned in our previous letter that was issued on March 11, 2020, please remember the following guidelines to keep you and your family safe during this time:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes.
• Do not share personal items such as drinks, food or utensils.
• Do not attend school if you are sick.
• Keep sick individuals at home for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever.
• Monitor Travel Alerts. Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html for information updates.
If you have additional questions, you may wish to visit the Cocalico School District webpage for links to a variety of local, state, and national agencies. If you have specific questions that are unique to the needs of your child, please reach out to your building principal.

As always, the safety and health of our children, staff, and families is a high priority. Thank you for your patience as we adhere to guidance from health and education agencies during this unprecedented time.

Update: March 11, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers:

At the time of the writing of this letter, there are 13 presumptive positive cases and 2 confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania: one in Delaware County, nine in Montgomery County, one in Philadelphia County, two in Bucks County, one in Monroe County, and one in Wayne County. In addition, some schools in Bucks and Montgomery Counties temporarily closed due to a person having contact with another person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. As a result, we are continuing to work closely with the Department of Health to implement their recommendations and to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. In addition, we are in constant communication with all of our school districts in the county to ensure that we are all working together to maintain a healthy and safe school environment throughout our communities.

The District administration is reviewing our Pandemic Plan in preparation for potential school closings and/or mandatory quarantine periods. The Pandemic Plan, as part of the district’s overall emergency preparedness plan, follows a recommended model provided by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). If it is determined that we need to enact the plan, we will notify our school community of specific actions that will be implemented.

A key part of any pandemic plan is taking precautionary steps to keep yourself and those around you healthy, so it is important to know how COVID-19 spreads. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is transmitted from person to person just like the flu or a cold: through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact like touching or shaking hands, by touching a contaminated object or surface, and occasionally through contact with fecal matter.

As a precautionary measure in our schools, we are asking our custodial crews to perform deep cleanings of any classrooms where children have been sick with the flu, and additional cleanings of high-touch surfaces (e.g. desktops, door handles, railings, etc.). We are doing our very best to prevent the spread of illness.

As with all infectious diseases, we have protocols in place to minimize the spread of illness, and we are reviewing our emergency preparedness plans in the event of a widespread outbreak that requires additional action. We are continuing to work with the Department of Health to implement protocols quickly and as needed.

We continue to closely monitor the situation, and all students, staff, and families are advised to implement the following recommendations from health officials:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners that are at least 60-95% alcohol are also effective.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes. The primary way that the flu spreads is from person to person in the droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it is important to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.
• Do not share personal items such as drinks, food or utensils.
• Do not attend school if you are sick. Any student or staff who is determined to be sick while at school will be sent home.
• Keep sick individuals at home for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever reducing medicine like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
• Monitor Travel Alerts. To slow the spread of COVID-19 into the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working with state and local public health partners to implement after-travel health precautions. Please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html for additional information.

As always, our priority is the health and well-being of our students and staff, and the sanitation and cleanliness of our buildings. We will remain vigilant regarding the ongoing situation and will notify you of any additional changes to our strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 on the national level, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

For more information about COVID-19 on the state level, visit https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

For a parent resource for talking to your child about COVID-19, visit

Should you have any questions or concerns beyond what has been provided on these information sites, please contact your health care practitioner.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Together, we can minimize the health risks to our students, staff, and families.

Update: February 28, 2020


As many of you are aware, the coronavirus has been dominating news headlines the last few weeks. During this time, we have been reviewing information that is being shared from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Below is a link should you want additional information about coronavirus or COVID-19.

(Link no longer exists - please click on "Resources" in left sidebar for the most up-to-date information)

While there is no immediate concern for our area based on the latest reports, we are closely monitoring the situation. On our part, we will continue to reinforce preventative measures such as proper handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes. As parents/guardians, we ask that you monitor children for any signs of illness and allow them to stay home until symptoms have improved.

Should there be further direction from CDC or from our own state department, we will provide updates to families. In the meantime, student safety and well-being are of critical importance to us, and we will continue to track the course of this event as more information is shared with us.

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