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2020-2021 Back To School Updates

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Most Recent Update for DTSD Familes - September 18 2020

Greetings DTSD Families,

We’ve reached another important waypoint of the school year: our first “full” (5-day) week of classes!  Ordinarily that wouldn’t necessarily be considered a big deal; but as you know, things in education have been anything but ordinary of late.  We’ve not had a full week of school since early March, so I think it’s a milestone worth mentioning.

I applaud everyone who has helped us get to this point.  A huge thank you to our faculty, staff, administrators and school board for doing all they can to make our return to school as beneficial and productive for our students as possible.  Please continue to encourage and support our teachers as they have a huge task on them as they work to provide excellent teaching and learning for all students and are continuing to learn and navigate this new environment of meeting needs of both face-to-face and virtual students (often at the same time). 

My gratitude also extends to you – parents, guardians and students.  The understanding, cooperation and support for the many new health and safety measures we’ve put in place has been nothing short of amazing.  There were times during our back-to-school preparations we questioned ourselves: “is this too much to ask?  Can families really make these sacrifices?  Will students be able to adjust?”  The answer, so far, has been a stirring reminder of what a truly remarkable school community we have here in Hershey.

That said, the mission is not over. Far from it.  We’re moving from a focus on opening school to keeping it open.  That means we all need to continue doing the things that have gotten us this far:

  • Wearing face masks consisting of two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric (recommended) that cover the face from the middle of the nose to below the chin. Face masks must be worn at all times while on campus
  • Practicing physical distancing (6 feet whenever possible)
  • Implementing personal hygiene practices like frequent hand washing (with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds) and using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.

As fall begins to truly set in, the importance of daily at-home health screenings takes on even greater significance.  Many symptoms of seasonal ailments like colds and allergies can also be signs of a potential COVID-19 infection.  So, if you detect signs of illness in your student, I urge you to keep them at home and monitor them carefully.  We’ll miss them short term, but, in the long run, strict adherence to this principle very well may be the best chance we have of keeping in-person instruction going. To help with these critical screenings, plese refer to the Symptom Screening Tool which should be completed daily at home prior to school.

While this is not the learning environment any of us want or know is ideal for students, it is the reality we are dealt. We are so thankful for each day we have with our students. With your ongoing support, we will continue to work together to cultivate an extraordinary learning environment for all of our students by showing patience, grace and a collective dedicated commitment to following all necessary health and safety measures; both inside and outside of school.

With Trojan Pride,

Joe McFarlan, Superintendent


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