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:  September 24, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

It’s been a month now since our first day of school this year. We have been pleased to welcome many new students and families to our district for the 2021-2022 school year. Our enrollment has increased by nearly 200 students, when compared to the fall of 2020 and 2019. In addition, we have welcomed many new preschool students to the classes that are now hosted in each one of our elementary schools. At every level, our buildings are busy with instruction and activities.

As we head into the second month of school, we have a few updates for everyone regarding the Universal Face Covering Order, COVID-19 cases, and the potential for a switch to virtual instruction.

First of all, we wish to thank our staff and families who have been working through the expectations regarding the face covering Order. We recognize this has not been an easy transition, and there were many questions about how it should be implemented and what the options might be. A number of families expressed a preference for the face coverings to remain optional; however, nearly all of our students are now wearing a face mask or face shield to school each day. We will be working through the exemption process which includes medical documentation or a 504 or IEP process for a small percentage of students. For students who do not wish to wear a mask or face shield in school and do not qualify for an exemption, we have been suggesting alternatives such as our virtual program, homeschool instruction, private school, or cyber charter school.

Second, I would like to remind everyone of the need to follow the quarantine recommendations that have been communicated. The recommendations can be found by clicking on the "Resources" tab in the left sidebar. If staff or students are notified that they have been a close contact to a positive case, they should not be back in school the next day unless one of the exceptions apply. One specific exception to point out is that students may refrain from quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19 if they AND the person who is infectious were both consistently and correctly wearing well-fitting face masks. This has helped to reduce the number of students needing to quarantine. Nevertheless, it is also important to note that last year at this time, we had no positive staff or student cases in any of our buildings for the first two full months of school. This year, we have had more than 60 cumulative cases throughout the district, and the high school alone currently has a total of 26 active cases. Many of these cases were identified in the past few days. If we cannot slow the increase in cases, we may need to consider a shift to virtual instruction at the high school for a period of time.

The COVID case details can be found by clicking on the "Monitoring Dashboard" in the left sidebar.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work through the challenges we’ve been faced with this fall. We hope to continue working together in the days ahead and look forward to a year of growth and learning for our students. If you have any questions about the information in this communication, please reach out to your building principal or a district administrator at (717) 336-1403.
Update: September 11, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Since our last communication on September 8, 2021, we have received some questions from families who have recently submitted a face covering exemption request for their child(ren). We have developed a FAQ sheet, found under "Resources" in the left sidebar, to respond to those questions. This communication is specific to families who have recently submitted an exemption request. It does not apply to families who did not request a face covering exemption for their child(ren).

As we begin processing these exemption requests, we will need some additional information from families who submitted such a request. An Exemption Request Follow Up Form can be found also under the "Resources" section. This form is due by September 20, 2021.

If you have questions about the details in this communication, you may reach out to your child’s principal. You may also call (717) 336-1403 to speak with Dr. Melnyk or Dr. Haldeman or email Stephen_Melnyk@cocalico.org or Tabetha_Haldeman@cocalico.org for more information.

Please be aware that the Cocalico School Board is continuing to advocate for local control regarding the use of masks in school, and we have reached out to legislators to express concerns with the Universal Face Covering Order that has been issued. If you wish to join us in these efforts, please reach out to Senator Aument, Representative Fee, Representative Cox, Governor Wolf’s Office, or the PA Department of Health.

Update: September 8, 2021

Dear Families,

We hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend, and we appreciate the cooperation with the Universal Face Covering mandate that went into effect when we returned. Many of our students at every building came to school with masks on Tuesday morning.

In an effort to provide principals with appropriate guidance regarding follow up to recent exemption requests that have been made, the School Board met in an Executive Session earlier today for a legal review of the exemption process. The Board is aware of the following communication regarding the Order that is being provided to our families as a result of that meeting:

  • The District will continue working towards compliance with the Department of Health Face Covering Order.
  • On Friday, September 3, 20201, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (“PDE”) updated its guidance on the topic of face coverings. After an initial review of that guidance we communicated with our families that medical documentation for exemptions due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for a student to maintain a face covering was not required at that point.
  • Further review of the guidance indicated that any exception to the mandate be in accordance with eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”) or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), as any such exception is necessarily resultant from a medical or mental health condition or disability. As a result, the same processes we used last year will be in place for the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Therefore, as we begin processing these requests for exemptions due to medical/mental health conditions or disabilities, we will request additional information from the student’s medical provider.
  • No later than September 20, 2021, families who have already submitted an exemption request should submit a follow up medical note related to the request. Any medical note that is provided must be specific to the child’s need and should not be a form letter provided for multiple students. Once the district has been made aware of an underlying health condition that could impact a students’ learning, federal law dictates that an initial evaluation under either Section 504 or the IDEA (for students not yet eligible under either statute) occur (or, for students already eligible for a 504 Plan or Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) under the IDEA, a revision to the 504 Plan or IEP occur).
  • Effective immediately, any new requests should be completed on the Exemption Request form (dated 9/8/21 and found under the "Resources" tab at left), along with related medical information.
  • The Order states that consideration be given to all face-covering alternatives, including face shields, before an exemption is granted. In the past, the use of a shield instead of a mask has been seen as a reasonable accommodation in these situations. If your child will use a face shield rather than a mask, there is no need to submit an exemption form. If you already completed a medical exemption request and want your child to try the use of a face shield, please let us know.
  • Requests for a mask exemption that are not due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability will be denied. Parents will be notified and those students will be expected to wear a face covering in school.
  • Any non-exempt students who are not wearing a face covering will be reminded of the state-wide expectation and will be offered a face covering to use. Parents will be informed if a student does not comply.

We are very aware that face coverings have been a heated topic in our community, mirroring what is happening across the state and throughout our country. We ask for everyone’s patience as we sort through the necessary process for honoring exemptions. Our goal is that the large majority of our students will wear a mask or face shield to school, and those who cannot reasonably do so can be provided with accommodations through our established procedures.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter, as we work our way through these challenging times.


Update: September 4, 2021

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Yesterday afternoon we were notified of updates from the PA Department of Education (DOH) related to the Order signed by Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Health requiring face coverings to be worn in all school entities, that takes effect on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

With these updates, the DOH Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) no longer state that schools may require medical documentation for individuals who meet one of the exceptions in Section 3 of the Order. At this point, parents of students who cannot reasonably wear a face covering due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability may either (1) provide a medical note from their child’s provider, (2) complete and submit the revised Exemption Form that can be found under the "Resources" tab in the left sidebar, or (3) provide a note or email to their child’s principal with the following information:

Name of Student: ____________________________ Grade Level: ______________________

Name of Parent: _____________________________ Date of Request: ___________________

I, parent/guardian of the above student, am requesting an exemption for my child from the PA Department of Health Safety Order requiring universal face coverings at school due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the student to maintain a face covering. Specifically, the reason for this request is described below:

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

Students without an exemption request will be expected to wear a face covering at school, starting on September 7, 2021. If you have not already submitted a medical note or exemption form and you intend to submit a request, please do so in a timely manner so your child’s principal has the opportunity to review it and communicate with teachers and staff about the exemption. We appreciate your cooperation as we work through this latest change.

Update: September 2, 2021

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Thank you for your patience and flexibility this week as we worked to address extreme weather concerns and school masking concerns. These are not easy times for families or school staff and we appreciate your continued care and support during this challenging week, even as schedules have been interrupted.

The main focus of this communication is to provide you with follow-up information regarding the face covering Order that was issued by the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). The Order requires all teachers, students, staff and visitors to wear a face covering indoors at school unless an exception applies, and it further requires schools to enforce the Order’s requirements.

We have reviewed this Order and sought legal counsel regarding the implementation of the Order. We have found that unless or until a court of competent jurisdiction issues an injunction against the Secretary of Health regarding the implementation and enforcement of the Secretary's mask order effective on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the school district is obligated to comply with the provisions of that Order, regardless of whether this Order is reflected in the school district’s Health and Safety Plan. It is no longer a matter of local control. Therefore, students and staff will be expected to wear a face covering while in school, beginning on September 7, 2021.

This announcement comes as a relief to some and a disappointment to others, and it raises many questions for consideration. The following points may help to provide some clarification about how the Order applies in the school setting.

As was the case at the beginning of last year, face shields may be used as an alternative to face masks. Face shields must be fitted to the face/forehead (no glasses style) and fully cover the nose and mouth. In addition, the following exceptions to the face covering requirement are included in the Order:

  • If wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition while operating equipment or executing a task;
  • If wearing a face covering causes or exacerbates a medical condition, mental health condition, or a disability;
  • When someone is working alone and isolated from others;
  • While eating, drinking or playing an instrument that would be obstructed by a face covering;
  • While participating in P.E. class, if able to maintain a distance of six feet from others and in a well-ventilated location;
  • For athletes who are participating in sports practices or events;
  • If an individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

If your child has a documented health condition that confirms a need for an exemption from the face covering order that is related to physical, emotional or mental health, you may provide a note from your health care provider to the principal and school nurse for that exemption or you may complete the attached Face Covering Exemption Form.

If none of these exceptions apply and you do not wish for your child to wear a face mask or a face shield while in school, you may consider other options for educational programming. These may include the following:

  • Cocalico Connections, when this is an appropriate match to a child’s educational placement
  • homeschool
  • private school
  • cyber charter school

Any requests for a change in programming should be provided to the school principal, and someone will connect you with the appropriate school personnel to discuss the request. Please be aware that a change in placement may take several days to process and that once it is confirmed, we would expect your child to remain in that placement at least for the duration of the first trimester at the elementary and middle school levels (until we return from the Thanksgiving holiday on November 30, 2021), and the first semester at the high school level (until January 18, 2022).

We understand that these are difficult decisions for some of our families. We sincerely hope we can work through any of the challenges that you and your children may be facing so that we can continue to provide a positive educational experience for each child, every day. I have asked our Assistants to the Superintendent to help with questions you may have. They can be contacted at (717) 336-1403 or emailed at stephen_melnyk@cocalico.org or beth_haldeman@cocalico.org. In addition, we encourage you to contact our local legislators to express any concerns you may have with the face covering Order.


Update: August 31, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

I hope the first week of school went well for you and your family. I appreciated seeing the excitement that our students had about coming back to school.

Today, a new Order was announced by the Acting Secretary of the PA Department of Health in a 2:00 p.m. press conference. As we mentioned in previous communication, we will review any new mandates with our legal counsel to determine their application to the Cocalico School District. Additional communication on this topic will be provided to our staff and families later on this week.

Also today, we were alerted by the National Weather Service about the potential for significant rainfall and flash floods in our area in the next few days. The heaviest rainfall is expected Wednesday, into Wednesday night. We will be monitoring conditions carefully throughout the day. Please be aware that emergency calls may need to be made if there are concerns regarding travel at the usual time.

In addition, we wish to provide you with an updated chart for close contacts, along with a new set of FAQs. We have been working on these over the past week and do not want to wait any longer to share this information with you. Both of these documents can be found under the "Resources" tab at the left and will provide you with some additional information about what to expect with regards to quarantines.

If you have any questions about the attached information, please reach out to your building principal or a district administrator. You will hear from me again in the next few days regarding the Order the was issued today.
Update: August 6, 2021

Dear parents and staff,

We are continuing to receive questions from our families about our Health and Safety Plan for the 2021-2022 school year, especially with regards to masks in the classroom and on school buses. In addition, there have been a number of questions regarding the differences between recommendations and requirements, or guidance versus mandates, with regards to school district operations. We hope the newest FAQs, found by clicking on the Resource tab in the left sidebar, will help to clarify some of these topics for our Cocalico community.

As always, please reach out to your building principal(s) or a district administrator if you have any additional questions. We look forward to helping everyone get ready for school and seeing you at the various Open Houses that are scheduled at each building in the upcoming weeks.
Update: July 30, 2021

Dear Families and Staff,


The most recent guidance regarding masks that was released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has raised some questions about what it means for the Cocalico School District. This email comes in response to the questions we've received.

There is no change in the plans for the Cocalico School District as a result of the latest CDC guidance. These newest recommendations from the CDC are not a legal requirement, and school districts in Pennsylvania may continue to keep masks optional in the classroom and on the playground. As the district communicated in the latest FAQs,  masks are optional for both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff and students when they are in the school setting.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your building principal or a district administrator. We will provide additional updates for everyone, as needed. In the meantime, we wish you and your family well as you plan and prepare for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Updated:  July 22, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

A few weeks ago, you received an email about Cocalico School District’s DRAFT Health and Safety Plan for the 2021-2022 school year. Approximately 3,400 messages were delivered, and we received more than 600 parent and 100 staff member responses.

The overwhelming majority (86%) of participants in the survey expressed no concerns or questions about the plan, and a number of parents expressed appreciation for the district’s response to the pandemic. Many of the remaining respondents provided useful input or asked for clarification on several key topics. Therefore, we developed the attached FAQ to give everyone more detailed information regarding these topics, based on what we anticipate will be implemented this fall. The plan itself will be presented to the School Board on July 26, 2021. If approved, it will be submitted to the PA Department of Education on or before July 30, 2021.

We are looking forward to a much more normal return to school this fall and are pleased about the many opportunities we can offer to our students this year. We are also grateful that parents can volunteer to help in the classroom and attend back-to-school nights, concerts and more. Through the many activities that will involve staff, students and families, the strong partnerships we have enjoyed over the years can once again become the Cocalico norm. Our students will benefit greatly from our collaborative support and encouragement, and we anticipate strong academic progress and positive social and emotional development for every child, every chance, every day.

Additional information about the start of school will be mailed to staff and families in the upcoming weeks. If you have specific questions as you prepare for the school year, please reach out to your building principal or a district administrator. We are all eager to help our students, their families, and our staff to enjoy a successful start to the 2021-2022 school year!

Updated: May 28, 2021

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Yesterday, the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) announced that the state's face mask order will be lifted on June 28 or when 70 percent of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated, whichever occurs sooner. This is very welcome news, and that announcement strongly suggests that COVID mitigation measures imposed upon public schools in Pennsylvania appear to be drawing to a close.

With the attestation order expiring at the end of May and the face mask order soon to expire, we can confidently say that the upcoming school year will be different than this past school year has been. With this current information, the Cocalico School District will be basing its back-to-school plans for the 2021-2022 school year on these three expectations:

  • five days of in-person instruction for students at all levels,
  • no mask requirement, and
  • no COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Staff and students who wish to wear face masks as a mitigation measure will be permitted to do so, but that will be by personal choice.

The Cocalico School Board and the District’s entire administrative team very much appreciate the cooperation of staff, students and their families this past school year in complying with the District’s health and safety plan. Your efforts allowed the District to keep its schools open and continue offering in-person instruction.

We appreciate your continued cooperation during the final days of the 2020-2021 school year, and we look forward to a more “normal” return to school in the fall. Until then, we wish you a relaxing summer vacation that includes many enjoyable events with family and friends.


Update:  May 5, 2021

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

It’s May, and the end of the school year is nearly here! In the summer, fall and winter months, we worked through many adaptations to our programs so that we could continue providing instruction to our students, in spite of ever-changing circumstances. During that time, you heard from me often with updates and announcements regarding changes and requirements. Thankfully, we’ve had to make fewer adjustments in recent months, and there has been much less of a need for regular communication from my desk to yours. As we conclude the year, however, it seems fitting to reach out to you once more.

First, I want to express my gratitude for all you have done to help your children with their education throughout every stage of this pandemic. Despite changes in schedules and how instruction was delivered, learning continued. Thank you for supporting the lessons, answering questions, and helping your children in countless ways throughout this school year. Because of your involvement and encouragement, they were able to complete their assignments and stay engaged in the educational process, successfully reaching this point in the year. We truly appreciate and are deeply grateful for the way you partnered with us to inspire and support learning for every child, every chance, every day.

Second, I want to provide you with an update regarding our health and safety requirements here in Cocalico and let you know about recent announcements that have been made. For now, the Department of Health and the Department of Education continue to mandate (1) masks for school and certain student activities, (2) socially distanced seating arrangements in the cafeterias, (3) quarantines for close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case and (4) closing the buildings to students when we reach certain case counts at a school. For Pennsylvania public schools in counties like ours that continue to experience “substantial” transmission, these are all conditions for offering in-person instruction, athletic opportunities and other extra-curricular options. The alternative to following these mandates would be to switch to fully remote learning and to eliminate all after-school activities, which is not what we believe is best for every student.

Yesterday, the Wolf administration, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, announced that mitigation orders except masking will be lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021. By the time this goes into effect the school year will be nearly over; however, it will allow us to consider additional options for our year-end events at each school. In addition, it will allow us to offer a greater range of collaborative learning activities during our various onsite summer programs.

We do not know what requirements will be in effect when we return to school in the fall, but we will certainly provide updates as needed. Based on what we know now, we are planning for five days a week of in-person instruction at all levels and hope to increase our hands-on academic learning experiences and extra-curricular opportunities. We will also offer our virtual program, Cocalico Connections, on a case-by-case basis as an alternative to in-person learning, but without the daily livestreamed support for elementary and middle school students that we provided this year.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss anything in more detail, please reach out to your building principal or to me. We are here to help in any way we can so that everyone can have a successful conclusion to the 2020-2021 school year and a positive start when we return to school in August. In the meantime, I wish you all the best for the end of the school year and for your upcoming summer vacation! May you enjoy many special moments with friends and family in the months to come.



Update:  April 2, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

As it relates to PA Department of Education (PDE) guidelines for COVID-related school closures, we will be resetting our 14-day rolling case counts to zero for all buildings when we return from spring break. Currently, PDE requires schools with substantial community levels of transmission to close schools for a three-day minimum when cases reach a certain threshold. During our spring break, each building will be closed to students for the required three days, and then the 14-day rolling case counts will be reset to zero.

New guidance was released just this week that shortens the duration of school closures, starting Monday, April 5, 2021. As a result, there may be times we will close school buildings to students on the weekends as a method for addressing case counts and then returning students to in-person instruction immediately after the weekend. This new guidance recommends a minimum two-day school closure when communities are in substantial levels of transmission; however, Lancaster County school districts have been granted permission by the Department of Health (DOH) and PDE to work with Penn Medicine LGH to shorten the length of closure time if that is deemed appropriate and we can confirm that all the required steps were taken.

For more information about the new guidance, please click here.

Update: February 10, 2021

Dear Staff and Families,

It seems that winter will remain for a few more weeks here in Lancaster County! Weather forecasts indicate that we could have more snow on the horizon. While it is quite likely these predictions could change over time, we are planning ahead for the possibility of additional snowstorms in our area.

Many of the local school districts are making some adjustments for snow days this year, if we exceed the number of days that can be made up during the school year. Our coordinated response with other districts is important, because we share many resources and services across the county. Here in Cocalico, we still have one Inclement Weather Make-up Day available in our school calendar; therefore, our next snow day will be handled in the traditional manner. School would be closed for staff and students, and we would make up that day on April 1, 2021.

Any additional snow days during this school year, if needed, will be designated as asynchronous learning days for staff and students. Lessons and activities will be posted in Schoology or Seesaw by 10:00 a.m. These lessons and activities will be self-paced so that students can work on them throughout the day, and there will be no expectation for them to join livestreamed Google Meet sessions. Likewise, Cocalico Connections students should work on their online curriculum and/or posted assignments.

Because challenges with connectivity could occur due to weather conditions, students will be given three days from when they return to school (in-person or virtual schedule) to complete their assignments. Therefore, student attendance can be counted if they login to Schoology or Seesaw on the inclement weather day or if they turn in their assignments on time. If these plans are implemented, virtual learning that is provided on an inclement weather day will count as a school day for faculty and students, thereby eliminating the need for a make-up day at the end of the school year.

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate, and we will not need to put any of this into place. But as you plan for the possibility of virtual learning on an inclement weather day, please check in with your children’s teachers or the school principal if you have any questions, so that we can all be as prepared as possible.

Update: January 11, 2021

Dear Secondary Staff and Families,

Tonight, the School Board met for a Public Work Session. Based on a review of local health conditions and students’ academic needs, the Board expressed support for the following plan:

  • On Monday, February 1, 2021, traditional students in grades 6-12 will begin a four-day in-person schedule. They will come to school for instruction on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and they will participate in virtual instruction on Wednesdays.
  • On Monday, March 1, 2021, traditional students in grades 6-12 will begin a five-day in-person schedule.

As you know, the district had previously hoped to make a shift from our current A/B hybrid schedule to a modified four-day in-person hybrid schedule on December 7, 2020, and then to a five-day in-person schedule on January 21, 2021. In November, we notified staff and families that these shifts would occur only if local health conditions stabilized. 

Unfortunately, conditions did not stabilize. Instead, the following weeks brought a very sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lancaster County. At the beginning of November, the 7-day incident rate was at 99.9 cases per 100,000 residents; by the time we left for winter recess, it had reached 456.6 cases per 100, 000 residents. Hundreds of our Cocalico students were in quarantine over this time, as were many of our staff members. It became increasingly difficult to staff our programs, and many of our administrators were covering classrooms on a daily basis so that schools could remain open. Truly, these were difficult weeks for all involved.

In the past few weeks, however, the number of case counts has lessened. Thousands of county healthcare workers have received their vaccinations, and our school nurses have been scheduled to receive theirs, as well. According to local medical consultants, all remaining school employees in Lancaster County are expected to have access to vaccinations by the end of January, and the county’s general public is expected to have access to vaccinations by the end of March. This is a credit to the county’s coordinated efforts to make vaccinations available to us as soon as possible. Data provided last week indicated that the number of vaccinations administered in Lancaster County ranks 6th highest in the state.

Given these updates, we believe we can safely prepare for a change in our traditional schedule. We are pulling extra desks from storage, placing HEPA air purifiers in classrooms where three feet of distance cannot be maintained between desks, and setting up additional seating for each lunch period so we can maintain the current distance between students while they are eating. We are also working on new bus seating charts and will arrange other details that are necessary for a safe transition to the new schedule.

We look forward to providing additional in-person learning opportunities for our secondary students and appreciate your patience during the first half of the school year. These past months have been very difficult for everyone as we adapted to the hybrid schedule and new methods of teaching and learning. Despite the extraordinary efforts of our teachers, tremendous support from our parents, and the cooperation of our students, it is impossible to replicate in-person instruction in the virtual setting, and we are very glad to finally reach the goal of safely increasing our face-to-face instruction. We are hopeful that the days ahead will be much less trying for all involved.

A set of additional FAQs related to our change in the secondary schedule can be found under "Resources" in the left sidebar. If you have specific questions about your situation as you plan for the weeks ahead, please reach out to your building principals. They have been working tirelessly to ensure that this transition goes as smoothly as possible.


Update: December 18, 2020

Dear Staff and Families,

What a year 2020 has been! I have been truly amazed by the problem-solving, adaptability, communication, and teamwork that has been evidenced by our staff, students, and families during this year. Thank you for the countless ways in which you have supported and enhanced the education of our students throughout this ongoing pandemic situation.

As we conclude the calendar year, we are planning ahead for a safe return to school in 2021. Due to the volume of quarantine details that must be addressed when staff and students return from an extended break, we are scheduling a district-wide shift to remote learning for January 4, 5, and 6, 2021, just as we did immediately after the Thanksgiving break. By avoiding the immediate urgency of in-person screening and contact tracing, our nurses and administrators will be free to address the many phone calls and emails related to positive, probable, and potential COVID-19 cases, thereby appropriately directing all those who need to quarantine to stay home from school as needed. Then, when students do return to in-person instruction on January 7, 2021, only those who are safe to return will be physically present in the building.

This preventive, pandemic-related shift to remote learning is not directly related to the rolling 14-day COVID-19 case count and subsequent school closure that the Department of Health requires districts to implement when case counts reach a certain point. Therefore, in this instance, we may be contacting a limited number of students for specific reasons (i.e., placement testing, counseling, extra-curricular activities) to schedule in-person activities, as appropriate. In addition to keeping the majority of our students safely at home during these first three days after the break, some of our staff may also need to work from home due to quarantines and other pre-approved health and safety reasons.

When we return to in-person learning on Thursday, January 7, 2021, we will resume our five-day schedule at the elementary level. The A/B hybrid schedule at the secondary level will also resume for the duration of the first semester. If cases in the district and county begin to stabilize in the new year and we can safely consider a change in schedule at some point during the second semester, we plan to provide staff and families with a two-week notice prior to any shift to a four-day or five-day schedule at the secondary level.

Please email the building principal if you have any child-specific questions or personal circumstances to discuss prior to our return from the winter recess. In the meantime, enjoy some time off, and celebrate all you have accomplished on behalf of our students during the year of 2020!

Have a safe and healthy holiday!


Update: December 8, 2020

Good morning, Cocalico Families,

We hope you are all having a good start to the week!

This email comes with some further information related to the district-wide updates that were provided recently. The newest FAQs (found under the "Resources" tab in the left side bar) outline (1) communication regarding COVID-19 cases, (2) options when close contacts are in quarantine, (3) pandemic-related shifts to remote learning, and (4) weather emergencies.

Hopefully, there will be no need for further updates anytime soon, and we can proceed with the current schedule throughout the month of December. But just in case, we do have procedures in place if things change quickly in the next few weeks, and we wanted to be sure everyone is aware of those procedures.

As always, if you have specific questions about a personal situation regarding your child(ren), please reach out to the building principal, teachers, or counselors for assistance. We recognize that even though there is a long list of FAQs in the attached document, it still has its limits.

Wishing you all a healthy and safe December!


Update: December 2, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Welcome back from Thanksgiving recess! Hopefully, you had a chance to reconnect with family and friends over the break, even if the gatherings were extra small or arranged through virtual means.

Just before our break, the Wolf Administration announced some new requirements for public schools in Pennsylvania. The primary purpose of the new requirements is to ensure that schools are (1) following the latest mask orders and (2) tracking and responding appropriately to positive and probable COVID-19 cases in the school setting. Accordingly, schools in Cocalico can return to in-person instruction on December 7, 2020, as planned. At the elementary level, we will return to a five-day in-person schedule, and at the secondary level, we will return to the A/B hybrid schedule. Nevertheless, if new case counts at any one of our school buildings reach a specified number (2-4 for our elementary schools, 4-6 for our middle school, and 6-10 for our high school) after we return to in-person instruction, we will be required to make another shift to remote instruction at that building for a short period of time.

A set of FAQs based on the latest requirements can be found under "Resources" in the left side bar. Hopefully, this will help to more fully explain the process we are expected to follow when we resume in-person instruction next week. In the meantime, we wish you all the best for this week of virtual instruction and appreciate the many ways you are supporting your children as they participate in lessons and complete their work each day.

Update: November 24, 2020 - Remote Learning Extended Through December 4

The Cocalico School Board met last evening and reviewed updated information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on Cocalico School District. In turn, it was determined that the District will utilize a remote learning model to instruct students in grades K-12 from December 1, 2020 through December 4, 2020.

The decision to implement our remote learning model for several days immediately after the Thanksgiving break was based on a variety of factors, which are outlined in the most recent FAQs found in the left sidebar. The CDC emphasis that spread is occurring from family gatherings, the current health status and potential in-school transmission within our own school district, and the impact that travel quarantines are likely to have on our ability to offer in-person instruction immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday were all considered. Additional CDC, state, and local support for in-person instruction has factored into further planning for students at the elementary level to return to a five-day in-person schedule on December 7, 2020, and students at the secondary level to return to the A/B hybrid model (rather than the proposed modification to a four-day in-person hybrid schedule for all traditional students), also on December 7, 2020. These schedules will be maintained for the remainder of December, unless specific conditions at individual schools require another temporary shift to remote learning for a period of time.

We understand there are many challenges that come with remote learning, and we sincerely hope this instructional model will not be needed for an extended period of time. We request your careful attention to safety precautions (i.e., social distancing, masks, limited indoor gatherings) over the Thanksgiving season so that incidence rates stabilize and schools can safely return to in-person instruction for the remainder of December. We recognize this is no small request and one that is difficult to honor; yet, we see the need to approach these challenges in a united manner so that our staff and students can benefit from a safe, face-to-face environment for learning.

As you plan for the days ahead, please reach out to your building principals if you have specific questions. They are available to assist with individual challenges and concerns that you may be facing.

Update: November 18, 2020 - Remote Learning

Dear Cocalico Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

Due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines in the Cocalico School District, we will be shifting to a remote learning model for our elementary and secondary schools for a brief period of time.

Elementary Schools (Grades K-5)

  • Students in grades K-5 will have a half-day of remote lessons on Monday, November 23, 2020.
  • School will be in session from 8:35 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the morning of November 23rd. (PM Kindergarten will be in session from 12:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
  • Teachers will communicate with students/families regarding the times when students are expected to connect with them through Google Meet live streaming.
  • Students have been practicing the use of their online learning tools in the classroom. Parents and guardians, please ask them for an advance preview at home, so you can be ready to assist them as needed when they are ready to begin their virtual lessons on Monday morning.

Secondary Schools

  • Students in grades 6-12 will have a full day of remote lessons on Monday, November 23, 2020.
  • Students will have a half-day of remote lessons on Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Dismissal will occur at 11:00 a.m. the morning of November 24th.
  • Students will access live streaming and posted activities and materials as they normally do on their scheduled remote learning days.

By providing an opportunity for students to learn remotely during the times listed above, we will be creating a 10-day period without students in school. This is a necessary step to stop the risk of in-school COVID-19 transmission as an increasing number of students are exposed to the virus through community contacts (and then potentially expose others to the virus when they are in school).

Please understand that decisions made in the broader Cocalico community have an immediate impact on our ability to provide in-person learning opportunities for our students. As you consider your weekend and holiday activities, we urge you to follow the latest orders from the PA Department of Health. Click here to review the newest travel guidelines. Your adherence to these guidelines will help reduce the spread of the virus and keep our students in school. In particular, consider limiting travel and large gatherings this Thanksgiving season, so that our students can remain healthy and able to return to their scheduled in-person lessons during the week of December 1, 2020.

We wish you and your family many reasons for gratitude during this Thanksgiving season. Though it has been a challenging year for us all, we continue to be grateful for the opportunity to join you in meeting the needs of every child, every chance, every day.


Update: November 13, 2020

Dear Secondary Staff and Families,

You have received a number of updates from the school district in recent days and weeks, and many questions are beginning to surface about what’s next for us here in Cocalico. I will do my best to clarify a few important topics for everyone.

As you know, the Cocalico School Board has been exploring the return to a five-day in-person schedule at the secondary level. A great deal of information about enrollment, class sizes, and student performance was collected and reviewed with the School Board on Monday night. In addition, information about county health statistics and local medical input was shared with the Board.

Given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases here in Lancaster County and our local community, the Cocalico School Board is not recommending a five-day in-person schedule for the remainder of the first semester. Even if conditions stabilize in the county and our school district, the Board would first recommend a modification of the current hybrid schedule to include four days of in-person instruction at the secondary level. In that case, all students in the traditional program would begin attending school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Wednesdays would remain a fully remote instructional day. Regardless, any such adjustment to the schedule will not be considered prior to Thanksgiving or the week immediately thereafter; thus, the earliest possible four-day modification to our current hybrid schedule would be December 7, 2020, but even that is tentative.

With more cases surfacing in the county and our own district over the course of this week, it is important to note that we may also need to consider the possibility of shifting to a fully virtual learning model at one or more of our buildings for a period of time. Each of our staff and student COVID-19 cases has been carefully reviewed with the Department of Health so we can monitor any in-school transmission. In case after case, there has been a direct link to a family member or close friend who tested positive for COVID-19, and there is not a series of connected cases here in the district. Nevertheless, we are aware that as increased numbers of faculty and students need to quarantine, access to in-person instruction becomes more difficult to maintain.

For many, a discussion about schedules is likely to evoke strong feelings and deep emotions, and understandably so. Whether students are fully remote or in-person two days a week, four days a week, or five days a week, the schedule directly affects every household and every classroom. We all care deeply about the academic, social, emotional, and medical needs of our students, but how we prioritize those needs can differ from situation to situation; therefore, it can be a struggle for everyone to remain sensitive to the concerns of those whose priorities may differ from our own.

As we journey through this difficult time, please be patient with the varying needs of our students and staff and recognize that it is impossible to create a schedule that will address everyone’s priorities at each stage of this journey through the pandemic. We are a community, and as such, we must work together in the weeks and months ahead. Our students will benefit from our respectful collaboration with each other, and they will learn many life lessons as they watch and observe our response to the challenges that lie before us.

In truth, this is not easy, but it is also not impossible! Together, we have already accomplished much, and we can continue to pull together for the sake of our students. Parents, staff, and administrators, you deserve recognition for your dedication and commitment to the children in our community.

First, I wish to acknowledge the many families who have needed to adapt and adjust their lifestyles this year in order to support the needs of their children in a manner that may not have been necessary in previous years. Many of our students’ parents, guardians, and grandparents have rearranged their schedules in order to be home with children on remote learning days, and many others have sacrificed countless hours in the evening to review lessons and offer academic support. The willingness to adjust personal and professional schedules for the sake of our students is deeply appreciated, and we know they have benefitted greatly from the extra support and involvement that has been provided.

Second, our faculty and staff deserve our recognition. In the school setting, countless adjustments with lesson delivery and student supports have also been necessary. Many hours have been invested in searching for resources, learning how to incorporate new technologies, adapting lessons for gaps in academic achievement, answering student and parent questions, and creating new ways for students to connect with each other through digital means. Shifting from tried and true methods that have garnered much success over the years to an untested manner of instructional delivery has not been easy, but it is work that has been done willingly and offered generously for the sake of our students.

Third, our administrators, too, have adapted and adjusted to the changing needs of our students, parents, and families. They have addressed questions during the workday, at night, and over the weekends and worked hard to solve any issues that have surfaced. Frequently, they have rearranged their personal commitments in order to be available to students, staff, and parents, so there is no delay in their response to the needs of others. Their sacrificial commitment to the Cocalico community is to be commended.

Finally, the Cocalico School Board is to be recognized for the many long hours they have spent reviewing guidelines, updates, and messages that are submitted to them from a variety of sources. They have attended countless meetings, fielded questions, and grappled with some very difficult decisions this year.

Because of the many, deeply committed individuals who are invested in the lives of our students, I am confident that no matter what learning mode we must adopt as we enter the winter months, we can continue to improve the manner in which we address the academic, social and emotional needs of our students. Providing high quality education has always been our goal, and we will remain committed to providing meaningful instruction and accompanying supports to our students as the year progresses.

To provide some immediate details in response to anticipated questions, we have posted another set of FAQs on the Resource page. If there are additional questions that are specific to a particular child, it is best to discuss your questions with our building principals. Our administrators are committed to working through the necessary details so that supports and assistance can be provided as needed.

Thank you for your continued involvement and investment in the education of our students during these challenging times. I am confident that our combined efforts will result in a caring and supportive educational environment in the weeks ahead.

Update: November 13, 2020

Dear Elementary Staff and Families,

You have received several updates from the school district in recent days and weeks, and questions are beginning to surface about what’s next for us here in Cocalico. I will do my best to clarify a few important topics for everyone.

With the county now reaching a “Substantial” level of transmission, it is true that classrooms, buildings, or entire school districts may eventually be required to shift to a virtual learning mode for a period of time. Thus far, our Cocalico elementary schools have had limited cases of COVID-19, with no evidence of in-school transmission. Therefore, there is no plan to make a shift to virtual learning any time in the near future, but conditions could change quickly. We felt it was important that you at least be aware of this possibility as you consider potential childcare needs or access to digital instruction.

In truth, a potential shift to remote learning is not our preferred plan. However, should the need arise, we also know it is not an impossible reality! Together, we have already accomplished much, and we can continue to pull together for the sake of our students. Parents, staff, and administrators deserve recognition for their dedication and commitment to the children in our community that has already been evidenced during this first part of the school year.

First, I wish to acknowledge the many families who have needed to adapt and adjust their lifestyles this year in order to support the needs of their children in a manner that may not have been necessary in previous years. As conditions at school have changed, so has the level of support that has been provided.

Second, our faculty and staff deserve our recognition. Many hours have been invested in searching for resources, learning how to incorporate new technologies, adapting lessons for gaps in academic achievement, and creating new ways for students to connect with each other through digital means. Shifting from tried and true methods that have garnered much success over the years to prepare for other manners of instructional delivery has not been easy, but it is work that has been done willingly and offered generously for the sake of our students.

Third, our administrators, too, have adapted and adjusted to the changing needs of our students, parents, and families. They have addressed questions during the workday, at night, and over the weekends and worked hard to solve any issues that have surfaced. Frequently, they have rearranged their personal commitments in order to be available to students, staff, and parents, so there is no delay in their response to the needs of others. Their sacrificial commitment to the Cocalico community is to be commended.

Finally, the Cocalico School Board is to be recognized for the many long hours they have spent reviewing guidelines, updates, and messages that are submitted to them from a variety of sources. They have attended countless meetings, fielded questions, and grappled with some very difficult decisions this year.

Because of the many, deeply committed individuals who are invested in the lives of our students, I am confident that no matter what learning mode we must adopt as we enter the winter months, we can continue to improve the manner in which we address the academic, social and emotional needs of our students. Providing high quality education has always been our goal, and we will remain committed to providing meaningful instruction and accompanying supports to our students as the year progresses.

To provide some immediate details in response to anticipated questions, we have posted another set of FAQs on the Resources page. If there are additional questions that are specific to a particular child, it is best to discuss your questions with our building principals. Our administrators are committed to working through the necessary details so that supports and assistance can be provided as needed.

Thank you for your continued involvement and investment in the education of our students during these challenging times. I am confident that our combined efforts will result in a caring and supportive educational environment in the weeks ahead.

Update: October 27, 2020

Dear Secondary Parents and Guardians,

We hope this letter finds you doing well and enjoying the fall season. This has been quite the unusual start to the school year, and it’s hard to believe we will soon be completing the first quarter and moving into the holiday season!

First, I want to thank each of you for your continued investment in the Cocalico School District and the many ways in which you are helping your sons and daughters to acclimate to school and the various new procedures we have in place. We are deeply grateful for your support as our students adapt and engage with each other and their learning in this new environment. The hybrid schedule is not easy, but you are working hard to make it as successful as possible.

Second, I want to follow up on the survey we sent out to secondary faculty, parents, and students two weeks ago. Nearly all our secondary faculty and approximately a third of our secondary students and families participated in the survey. We collected those results and reviewed them with members of our School Board.
Picture of results from the parent & faculty survey
Comments in the survey indicated that many of our students and parents in the traditional program are eager for a return to a five-day in-person schedule; however, the preferred timing varies, based on perspectives about when it might be safe to do so. Faculty comments also indicated a desire to eventually return to a five-day schedule, though many expressed concern for continued safety measures and the need to monitor local health statistics and gather input from medical consultants as part of the decision-making process.

As a follow up to the survey, the School Board has requested that the Cocalico administrative team begin taking active steps for a five-day in-person return to school for our traditional students. However, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Lancaster County, they are also requesting that we continue to engage with local medical experts to review health statistics in the county and in our local community before determining a date for that return.

To begin, we are monitoring student enrollments to identify the number of desks needed in each classroom, ordering air purifiers for rooms where three feet of space between desks cannot be maintained, and securing additional tables and desks for increased cafeteria seating so that we can maintain distance there. We are also participating in weekly calls with Penn Medicine LGH and consulting with medical professionals at Wellspan for their guidance and input. We will reach out to staff and families once again when we have a more definitive date for our return to a five-day in-person schedule for our traditional students.

In the meantime, we are also working to improve our student supports for academic success while we remain in the hybrid program. At the middle school, additional supports will be provided through 9th Period and also through after-school tutoring. At the high school, additional supports will be added during the FOCUS Period at the end of the day and through after-school academic support. We are also offering a four-day in-person schedule for our students who have IEPs and 504 plans.

Finally, I wish each of you a safe and enjoyable holiday season. As you consider your usual traditions and activities, please keep in mind the critical role you play in preventing the need to quarantine from the school setting. Local medical professionals are asking for our help in reminding staff and families that the usual large gatherings that are held indoors and include members from many different communities are a very likely way in which COVID-19 will be spread. Limiting group sizes, holding outdoor celebrations, wearing masks, and maintaining a social distance are several of the ways they are suggesting that communities can mitigate the risks of positive cases in our area and limit the subsequent effect that can have on school attendance.

The Cocalico families are to be applauded for the way in which you have taken this pandemic seriously and have helped to limit the spread in our school setting thus far. We look forward to a continued partnership in these endeavors as we move into the holiday season and wish you and your family all the best for the weeks ahead.


Update: October 27, 2020

Dear Elementary Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers,

We hope this letter finds you doing well and enjoying the fall season. It’s hard to believe, but we will soon be completing the first trimester of our school year and moving into the holiday season. I have just a few updates to share with you at this time.

First, I want to thank each of you for your continued investment in the Cocalico School District and the many ways in which you are helping your children acclimate to school and the various new procedures we have in place. We deeply appreciate all your support and are pleased with the way the students have adapted and engaged with their teachers and classmates in this new environment.

Second, I want you to be aware that we will be providing our elementary teachers with a day of training on Friday, November 6, 2020, so they are prepared to livestream for parent-teacher conferences and if their whole class or building would need to shift to a virtual learning mode. As you may recall, we had an additional day of training at the secondary level in September but didn’t see the same immediate need at the elementary level. Now, however, the timing seems appropriate for this training to also occur at the elementary level. For this reason, students in our elementary traditional program and in our elementary Cocalico Connections program will not have school on November 6, 2020, nor will they need to make up that day. Under Act 80, the PA Department of Education has provisions for situations such as this, so that additional faculty training can be provided as needed.

Finally, I wish each of you a safe and enjoyable holiday season. As you consider your usual traditions and activities, please keep in mind the critical role you play in preventing the need to quarantine students in the school setting. Local medical professionals are asking for our help in reminding families that the usual large gatherings that are held indoors and include members from many different communities are a very likely way in which COVID-19 will be spread. Limiting group sizes, holding outdoor celebrations, wearing masks, and maintaining a social distance are several of the ways they are suggesting that communities can mitigate the risks of positive cases in our area and limit the subsequent effect that can have on school attendance.

The Cocalico community is to be applauded for the way in which you have taken this pandemic seriously and have helped to limit the spread in our school setting thus far. We look forward to a continued partnership in these endeavors as we move into the holiday season and wish you and your family all the best for the weeks ahead.


Update: September 16, 2020

It is more than three weeks now since the start of school. Despite the challenges, students remain eager to learn and are working hard to meet new demands and unfamiliar expectations. They seem especially glad for the chance to interact with their teachers and friends as they delve into their academic requirements.

Feedback from our families has also shown how much they value the opportunity for their children to learn directly from their teachers in real time, face-to-face instruction. To that end, the district has established a training plan so that all teachers are equipped to provide live, interactive lessons in a hybrid or virtual learning environment.

We recognize the urgency for this training, because we never know when we will need to shift to a fully remote environment. Therefore, we have scheduled some immediate training dates for all faculty. No students will be in school, and no remote lessons will be provided on these dates:

  • Friday, September 18 – training for all K-12 faculty; no school for K-12 students
  • Friday, September 25 – training for all K-12 faculty; no school for K-12 students


A separate, additional day has been scheduled for our secondary faculty and for our elementary faculty:

  • Wednesday, September 23 – training for 6-12 faculty; no school for 6-12 students
  •  First day of district-wide shift to hybrid or virtual learning, if needed (date TBD) – training for all K-5 faculty; no school for K-5 students

As part of these training events, teachers will learn about livestreaming and the use of other strategies and resources that can help to engage and empower students when they are learning remotely. Teachers will also be given time to collaborate with others in their departments and grade levels, so that greater consistency can be achieved from class to class. By October 1, 2020, teachers in grades 6-12 will be expected to livestream with their remote learners for a portion of each daily lesson.

Please be assured, our teachers are working hard to provide a quality education. They care deeply about their students and are committed to refining the way they deliver instruction and supports, but it does require some additional training for teachers to enhance the virtual learning experience.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership with us as we continue to work at improving our services and supports. New FAQs, found by clicking on the Resources tab in the left sidebar, will provide you with some additional information and updates related to the pandemic situation in which we find ourselves. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s principal or one of our district administrators.


Update: August 14, 2020

This may be my last written update for the summer! Next week, I will be welcoming our faculty and staff back to school for their opening day. Then on August 25, I will be welcoming students for their first day of school. It will be a delight to see busses on the road, children in the classrooms, and our faculty and staff going about the mission of inspiring and supporting every child, every chance, every day.

At times, I’ve wondered if we could ever welcome staff and students back to school. With the ever-changing guidance, recommendations, restrictions, regulations, and mandates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), World Health Organization (WHO), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Department of Health (DOH) and countless other organizations, it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to set a course and stick with it. But over time, the counsel from multiple sources began to converge, and we were able to develop a plan, first for the safety protocols that needed to be put in place, and then for the instruction we could provide.

Earlier this week, PDE released yet another set of recommendations for schools. The media’s response created immediate concern. LancasterOnline posted this headline, “Full-time, in-person instruction not recommended for Lancaster County schools under state's new reopening guidance,” and then LNP ran a front-page article with a headline, “State: Don’t offer classes in-person.” These statements do not accurately reflect PDE’s recommendations for Lancaster County schools.

The latest FAQs, found under the "Resources" tab in the left side bar, will provide you with some much-needed clarification. I hope they will also provide reassurance that we have collaborated carefully with the medical community, and we are working hard to implement the requirements involved to reopen schools. The Cocalico School District is ready for staff and students to return to school, and we are very excited that we can once again offer in-person and remote learning opportunities to the students in our care. Let the 2020-2021 school year begin!

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:

Priorities:

  • 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.

Childcare:

  • 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.

Transportation:

  • 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.

Masks:

  • 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.
3/30/20
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
https://www.lmsd.org/uploaded/documents/Departments/Health/Talking_to_Children_About_COVID.pdf

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

Parents/Guardians,

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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