Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The health and well-being of our Northgate family is our highest priority. The district will maintain frequent communication with our community as this ongoing situation evolves. We will continue to follow the guidance from the Allegheny County Health Department, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control as the situation continues to evolve.
We respect that some families may not be comfortable having their child participate in any in-person activity and/or may have an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risks. This is why nothing will be mandatory, including attending school in-person, until this situation ends. We are launching a robust K-12 Online Learning Academy that will be available to all students. One of the best things about being a small district is that we have the ability to be flexible and work with our families to develop plans that work for their particular situation and we are committed to doing just that.
This is a challenging time, and we thank you for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we make responsible decisions to keep our community safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.
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- Hybrid Reopening - October 19, 2020
- Hybrid Reopening - October 12, 2020
- Hybrid Reopening - September 23, 2020
- Hybrid Reopening - September Board Presentation
- Orientation Sessions for Elementary Students
- August Board Meeting Presentation
- Reopening of School - August 11, 2020
- Reopening of School - July 30, 2020
- Board Meeting to Approve Reopening Plan
- Reopening of School - July 21 ,2020
- Reopening of School - July 10, 2020
October 19, 2020
Beginning on November 5, the Northgate School District is planning a hybrid return to school. The administration has been working and planning for the students who will return to the buildings, as well as for those who have opted to remain at home during the pandemic. Our goal is to provide the best educational experience possible for all students and to help them remain connected to their Northgate school community despite the current challenges of COVID-19.
Students Electing to Return for In-Person Learning
Under the plan we have developed, students returning to school will be divided into two cohorts. Students with last names beginning with letters A-L will be in cohort A, while students with last names beginning with letters M-Z will be in cohort B unless you have been contacted individually by your building principal.
Cohort A will attend in-person learning on Mondays and Thursdays, while cohort B will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, both cohorts will experience live, online instruction with their teachers.
On the days when students are not physically in school, they will complete virtual, asynchronous learning activities assigned by their teacher. During the asynchronous days, students will be asked to complete learning activities, practice concepts, and view instructional videos. These assignments will be completed on the typical learning platform for your students’ grade level (SeeSaw, Google Classroom, Edgenuity).
Students Electing to Remain Virtual
We are currently working to hire additional staff that will work with our K-2 students who are electing to remain online. These students will follow the same schedule as an in-person cohort with three live instruction days and two asynchronous days. All three of their live days will be online. Students will follow the same pacing and curriculum as the students attending in person.
Students in grades 3-6 who remain online will be in their own homeroom section in each building, and will maintain the teachers that they currently have. They will be scheduled just like a student within a normal cohort with three live instruction days and two asynchronous days. All three of their live days will be online.
Secondary students opting to remain online will stay in their current courses with their current teachers. The teachers will provide a schedule of assignments/lessons for students to complete using Edgenuity. These assignments will align with the work being done by the students who are attending school in person. Online students will work independently to keep pace with their classes four days each week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.). On Wednesdays, online students are encouraged to attend virtual, live instruction during their normally scheduled class time. Chorus and band classes will also be conducted via live virtual instruction, as well as 7th and 8th grade advisory
While our virtual students may not be physically present, it is important to us that they still feel connected to their school community. Support for students will be available each morning and afternoon through an open virtual support room. In addition, we will be monitoring our virtual students closely with regular counselor check-ins and will make adaptations as necessary to meet each student’s needs.
Families will be receiving additional information from their building principal regarding the logistics of reopening. You can also access the latest information on our website www.northgatesd.net by clicking on the Reopening Plans link. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions. We are very excited to welcome back our students, and we want this to be a positive experience for all of our families.
Dr. Chris Caton
Director of Curriculum
Northgate School District
October 12, 2020
Dear Northgate Families,
I hope this letter finds you doing well! I am writing with several updates about our return to in-person instruction in the hybrid model.
Health and Safety
As we prepare to have students return to the buildings, the health and safety of our students and staff will remain our top priority. A team of doctors from the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has reviewed our plan and given their approval. They have indicated that it is safe to return to school following the appropriate guidelines.
What parents need to do:
- Prior to sending your child to school each day, please take their temperature. If they have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they are to remain at home until they are fever free for 24 hours.
- If your child is sick, please keep them home. If the symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, please keep your child home and contact your family doctor. A list of symptoms can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
- If your child or anyone in your family tests positive for COVID-19 please contact your school nurse. If your child has a direct exposure to a person with a confirmed positive case, your child will be required to quarantine. We are working directly with the Allegheny County Health Department to determine on a case-by-case basis the time for quarantine.
- If your family travels to any of the areas of the country identified as having high rates of COVID-19, please contact the school nurse prior to returning to school. You will be asked details of your trip and then a determination will be made about whether or not your child needs to quarantine. A list of areas with high rates of COVID-19 can be found at www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx.
- We are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot.
Safety in school:
AHN has provided feedback that wearing a mask is the best defense against COVID, and they need to be worn at all times when we are in the buildings with the exception of breakfast and lunch. During meal times, students will be at a minimum 6 feet apart from each other and special cleaning protocols are in place for those spaces. AHN expressed that COVID-19 transmission is less likely to occur by touching surfaces. However, a detailed plan is in place to clean all areas of the buildings, especially high touch areas.
- Teachers will be educating students on COVID symptoms in homerooms so that students are aware that they should report to the school nurse should they not feel well.
- Students will be required to wear masks while at school with the exception of when they are eating. Time will be built into the day for students to take a walk outside for a mask break.
- Students will not share materials.
- Students will not engage in any singing at this time.
- Band instruction will be held virtually.
- Outside visitors will not be allowed into the buildings.
A number of schools have already successfully returned to in-person learning. As anticipated, there have been cases of COVID-19 in the schools but they have been able to quickly manage them. The key is communication. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your school nurse and/or principal. It is also imperative that families immediately communicate any possible exposure to COVID-19 or a confirmed case in the family. We will work directly with you and, if necessary, the county health department to determine the best course of action.
What if we have a case in the school?
If we have a case in school, the affected student/staff will be removed immediately. We will then work with the Allegheny County Health department to contact trace and make decisions about who should be quarantined. Parents will be notified via robo call and a written letter about the situation. Please keep in mind, we have to maintain student/staff confidentiality but we will provide all of the information necessary to individuals who may be impacted.
Breakfast and lunch will continue to be available Monday through Friday for all students. Parents can continue to sign up for meals when their children are learning virtually through a new online form that will be available on October 28. This form will be located on the Northgate website under the Food Service section.
Students who attend school 2 days a week will receive 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches. Students who remain online 5 days a week will receive 5 breakfast and 5 lunches. You will indicate this on the form. The distribution sites and times will remain the same.
Please note, you do not have to pre-order meals for days when your child is attending in-person school.
Hybrid Instructional Model
Hybrid Model: Under this plan students will be divided into two cohorts. Cohort A will attend in-person school on Mondays and Thursdays, and cohort B will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. Students with a last name beginning with letters A-L will be in cohort A, and students with a last name beginning with letters M-Z will be in cohort B. All students will have live, virtual learning on Wednesdays. On the days when students are not physically in school, they will have virtual, asynchronous activities to complete. Teachers will also have “Office Hours” on those days in order to answer questions and provide assistance.
First Days of School: The first day of in-person learning for the Middle High School will be Thursday, November 5 for Cohort A
and Friday, November, 6 for Cohort B. The student day will be 8:45 am-2:56 pm.
The elementary buildings will be holding orientations for students and parents on Thursday, November 5 and Friday November 6. You will receive the schedule and further details from your building principal. The first day of in-person instruction will be Monday, November 9. The student day will be 9 am-3:05 pm.
The following information is for families who have indicated they will remain online.
Elementary students will be assigned to a cohort but will work fully online. This will include two days of asynchronous learning, two days of streamed lessons, and a day of live, virtual instruction. In grades 3-6, a Northgate teacher will provide the same instruction that is being provided in the classrooms. We are working to hire additional personnel to offer this same model in grades K-2. If your child is planning to remain online and you have not already notified your principal it is imperative that you do so immediately. The principals’ contact information is listed below:
Secondary students will participate in the Northgate Online Learning Academy (NOLA). If you plan to remain fully online and are not already enrolled in NOLA, please contact Mrs. Smith via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving additional information from Dr. Chris Caton regarding instruction during the hybrid model and from your building principal regarding the logistics of reopening. You can also access the latest information on our website www.northgatesd.net by clicking on the Reopening Plans link. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions. We are very excited to welcome back our students, and we want this to be a positive experience for all of our families.
September 23, 2020
Dear Northgate Families,
The Northgate Board of Directors has voted to return to in-person learning beginning on Thursday, November 5. The district will be operating in a hybrid model to allow for social distancing at all times. Students who are returning will be placed into cohorts. Students with last names A-L will be in Cohort A and will attend school in-person on Mondays and Thursdays. Students with last names M-Z will be in Cohort B and will attend school in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays. All students will participate in virtual instruction on Wednesdays. Please note, families with children who have different last names will be assigned to the same cohort. If your family plans to remain fully online when school reopens, please notify your principal as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly.
Additional information about the hybrid instructional model and safety precautions will be sent out in the upcoming weeks. The district has also contracted with Allegheny Health Network to have a team of medical doctors review our Health and Safety Plan. Once their feedback is received and incorporated, I will be sending out additional information. The health and safety of our students and staff is, and will remain, our top priority.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me.
Caroline Johns, Ed.D.
September 15, 2020
At the School Board meeting, held on September 14, the Board of School Directors directed the administration to move forward with planning a hybrid return to school. This plan will allow us to bring students back for in-person learning while maintaining health and safety precautions. A proposed hybrid plan outline was presented to the Board and can be viewed by clicking here. Under this plan, students will be divided into two cohorts. Cohort A will attend in-person school on Mondays and Thursdays, and cohort B will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays. All students will have live, virtual learning on Wednesdays. On the days when students are not physically in school, they will have virtual, asynchronous activities to complete. Teachers will also have “Office Hours” on those days in order to answer questions and provide assistance.
While we know many of our families are anxious to be back in school, we also recognize that a number of our families have extenuating circumstances resulting in online learning being the best option. When the district begins hybrid learning, we will continue to offer a fully remote option. The following is information for families interested in continuing with the online learning option:
Secondary Students: Secondary students will participate in the Northgate Online Learning Academy (NOLA). If you plan to remain fully online and are not already enrolled in NOLA, please contact Mrs. Smith via email at email@example.com by Wednesday, September 23.
Elementary Students: Elementary students will be assigned to a cohort but will work fully online. This will include two days of asynchronous learning, two days of streamed lessons, and a day of live, virtual instruction. In order to plan staffing for this option, we need to know no later than Wednesday, September 23 if your child plans to remain online when we return to school. Please contact your child’s principal via email:
Dr. Joe Peacock
Mr. John Primrose
Next week, the Board of School Directors will determine a target date for the start of in-person learning under the hybrid plan. Once this is decided, I will communicate this information.
Most importantly, I hope all of you are staying healthy and safe. If there is anything we can do to further support you, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Superintendent of Schools
We have created a series of in-person orientation sessions our students and families in the safest manner possible. These sessions will be held throughout the day to maintain small groups and proper social distancing. During this session you and your child will be able to meet our teachers and preview online lessons. You will also receive a daily schedule, and your child’s books. Additionally, we will conduct the screening process that is typically held at the beginning of each school year for our primary grade students.
Please review the Elementary Building Orientation Schedule and reach out to your building principal directly if you can't attend your assigned session.
The first official day of school is Monday, August 31 but with orientation sessions taking place during the week not all students will have what they need to get started. As we open school under these unique circumstances, we’ve adopted a soft opening approach to make this transition as smooth as possible for our students and families. While your student awaits their class orientation session, our teachers will be providing introductory lessons and skill building activities to assist your child with the transition to online learning. If you are not able to access online school resources prior to your orientation session please don’t worry about your child missing work.
Click here to read a letter from our principals regarding the first week of school for elementary students.
At the Monday, August 17 Board Meeting we shared an updated Reopening of School Presentation. This presentation includes a variety of detailed information including orientation sessions and bell schedules, meal distribution, device deployment and cleaning and safety measures.
We will continue to discuss our school reopening plans as the situation continues to unfold. Our top priority for reopening is maintaining the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students. Our goal is to reopen for in-person learning in a manner that takes into consideration conditions in the county and health and safety guidelines.
If you have any questions, please contact
your building principal directly.
August 11, 2020
I hope this letter finds you doing well and staying healthy. As we approach the start of the new school year, we know there are many questions out there as we reopen under unique circumstances. It is important to us that our families have updated information and answers to any questions. If you have any questions, please contact your building principal directly.
The first day for students will be Monday, August 31. An updated school calendar can be found on our website. All students will start the year working fully online. Prior to the first day of school, you will receive detailed information about orientations and schedules. We are finalizing plans to bring in small groups of students to pick-up materials and meet their teachers. We will have strict protocols in place for the safety of staff and students, but students are not required to attend these small in-person meet and greets if they are not comfortable doing so.
Online Learning Models
As we prepare to begin in an online environment, there has been some confusion regarding the option of joining the Northgate Online Learning Academy (NOLA). For most families, no action is required and the regular online learning environment is the correct choice.
Below is additional information to clear up the purpose of the NOLA cyber option:
The Northgate Online Learning Academy was built before the COVID-19 Pandemic to accommodate students who would opt to attend a cyber-charter school.
Secondary students in grades 7-12 should only choose this option if they would normally
(with no COVID-19 Pandemic) want to attend a cyber-school instead of in person learning
Elementary students will all begin the year online. No choice is necessary.
When we can safely return to an in-person model, parents and students will have the option to remain online. We will send information about how to indicate your preference to remain online.
Online Learning Format
Our goal has been to create a flexible online learning format that allows students to tune in to live classes during the school day, but also provide lessons for students who have scheduling conflicts during that time. Classes will occur each day during scheduled times and will be broadcasted over Google Meet or Zoom. These lessons will be recorded and available for anyone who was not able to attend, or for students who would like to review the material.
Students are expected to keep pace with the work of the class and grading will reflect normal Northgate procedures. Teachers will be available to assist any student who is in need of help during scheduled office hours. Additional information about specific schedules will be sent out from the buildings within the next week.
This year, the district is participating in the Community Eligibility Provision which provides free breakfast and lunch to all students. We encourage all of our students to take advantage of this program. While the district is operating virtually, families will be able to pick up prepackaged meals on Wednesdays.
There will be two pick-up locations:
- Bellevue Elementary School: Cafeteria side entrance from 10:30–11:30 am
- Middle/High School: Door A-4 - Administration entrance from Noon–1 pm
Please note, you must pre-order your meals each week. Meals must be ordered by Monday at noon for pick up on Wednesdays. The meal order form will open at noon on Thursday for the following week. It will remain open over the weekend until noon on Monday. Meals must be picked up during designated times. When you pick up, you will receive five pre-packaged breakfasts and lunches.
As indicated in previous communications, the district is moving to a 1:1 technology model with students in Pre-K-2 receiving an iPad and students in grades 3-12 receiving a ChromeBook. We placed our order for these devices earlier this summer but there is a significant backorder time due to current demand. Students who required a device this past spring will be provided a device during the first week of school. Any family who did not receive a device in the spring but who needs one right away should contact Rob King at firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on a list for a device. As soon as the rest of our devices are received, we will send information out about distribution.
In the next few weeks, families will be receiving more detailed information from the buildings with information about class assignments, orientation, daily schedules, etc. In the meantime, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Superintendent of Schools
July 30, 2020
At the Special Board Meeting on Wednesday, July 29, the Board of Directors approved a number of administrative recommendations.
The first was an adjustment to the school calendar with the first day of school for students now Monday, August 31. Please note, we are not sending out printed calendars this year due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. The calendar on our website is continually updated and is your best source of information.
Due to conditions in the county, our opening of school will be fully remote for all students. Our goal is to have students return to classes under a hybrid model at the beginning of October or when conditions improve. We will continue to provide additional information as it becomes available. For families that will need childcare, the YMCA is setting up programming and we will share this information as soon as we receive it.
The Board also approved contracting with Allegheny Health Network for consultation services on our return to in-person learning plan.
Finally, we will be moving to a 1:1 technology model over the course of this coming year. iPads will be provided to students in kindergarten and 1st grade. ChromeBooks will be provided to students in grades 2-12. Please note, there is a significant backorder time for devices due to the current situation. We will be sending out additional information about device deployment.
We know there are many questions out there and now that we have a definitive framework for the opening of school, we will be finalizing details and sending out additional information.
Caroline Johns, Ed.D.
The goal of this special board meeting is to provide the administration with definitive direction so the can continue planning for reopening school this fall.
The details included in the Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan will continue to be revised as new recommendations and guidance is issued. The Board will continue to review and discuss the plan at all upcoming board meetings.
July 21, 2020
At the Monday, July 20 meeting the Board of School Directors discussed reopening for the fall. The reopening committees recommended a hybrid plan which would allow for a mix of in-person and virtual learning with students in K-2 attending school five days a week. The Board has directed administration to also present a plan that would start school fully online.
Regardless of which plan the Board ultimately selects, all families will have the option of online school. Click here to learn more about our Online Learning Academy. Students who opt to begin school online will have the option of returning to in-person schooling whenever they feel comfortable doing so and while online they will retain access to all Northgate services.
As conditions in our region have changed since the last parent survey, we will be sending another very short survey in an effort to gather updated parent feedback.
We want to thank everyone for their patience and support as we deal with this challenging situation. We recognize the strain this has put on many of our families and hope to have more definitive information out soon.
Caroline Johns, Ed.D.
July 10, 2020
Dear Northgate Families,
I hope this letter finds you well and healthy. As everyone is very aware, COVID-19 continues to present challenges to our normal routines and activities and as we get closer to the start of the school, we are anticipating many questions from our families. I will be communicating with our families throughout the summer to provide timely and accurate information.
A couple of things we all need to keep in mind during the next few months is that conditions are constantly changing and we will be adapting our plans accordingly. Therefore, it is imperative that our families have updated information. We will be posting the most current information on the Coronavirus Response page on our website. If you have any questions, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your building principal directly. The administrative team is available during the summer months, and it is important to us that you have timely and accurate information. Our contact information is available by searching the directory on our website.
Here is an update on what has occurred in planning for reopening this fall and our next steps.
- Over the past few months, Allegheny County Superintendents have had bi-weekly meetings to review and discuss the latest recommendations from various public health organizations including the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and county health departments. During the past month, representatives from the Allegheny County Health Department have joined these meetings to provide updates and answer questions.
- Based on these recommendations, we’ve created plans for our district to restart athletics and activities. The plans have been approved by the school board and practices have resumed. We continue to monitor conditions in the county and tweak the plans as needed.
- On July 20, the school board will vote on the first draft of our school reopening plan. This plan does two things: communicates our intent to pursue a full reopening in August and provides an overview of the precautions and procedures that will be in place. It is important to note that this plan will likely change as new guidelines and recommendations are released. More detailed plans are also being developed internally with input from various stakeholders.
- At this time, we are planning a full reopening but will offer a virtual option to all students. In early August, we will be asking parents to indicate if they are opting for in-person schooling or virtual. Students who choose to work virtually are welcome to return in-person at any time.
- While we are planning a full reopening, I encourage all families with young children to have alternate plans in place in the event of an unexpected school building closure or if your child would need to be quarantined. If your child has close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19, the Allegheny County Health Department will most likely order a 14-day quarantine. During the 14-day quarantine period, your child will not be allowed to attend school, but we will continue to provide education through a virtual platform.
While there are many unknowns, we do know that during the next few months we will face challenges the likes of which we have never encountered. I want our families to know we are working diligently and in consultation with health experts in an effort to do all we can to provide a safe environment for our students and staff. We recognize that anxiety levels will be high and I encourage all of our families to reach out to us directly with any questions or concerns. I am confident that we can successfully meet this challenge by working together and supporting each other throughout the process. I believe that by doing this our children will be the ones who truly benefit from having our community working together to ensure their well being.
Caroline Johns, Ed.D.