Teaching and Learning Safely in the Covid-19 Era

In the summer before the 2020-21 school year, Penn Charter developed a plan for a phased opening, tailored to student needs and our desire to open campus safely and to stay open for as long as possible. This plan was designed to evolve, encouraging everyone to remain flexible because circumstances could change in ways that we could not foresee. The plan has evolved throughout the year, adding layers of mitigation and learning from each day. 

The full details of our plan appear in the chart below. Penn Charter completed its phased opening at the end of September. School for many grades began in the hybrid mode: pre-K to 12 in-person learning for families who have chosen to be on campus and virtual instruction for families who have opted for distance learning. The Upper School hybrid mode includes alternating in-person/distance-learning weeks for blue team, yellow team.

We remain committed to our vision statement of “educating students to live lives that make a difference,” while also understanding that the path to this goal will look different in the upcoming school year. Global, national, local, and community issues and concerns around race, gender, sexual misconduct and consent will inform and be reflected in our work at every level.

Therefore, our goals for distance and in-person learning in the 2020-21 school year are:

  • Health, safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff

  • Students, faculty and staff physically present on campus as safely and as often as possible

  • Sustained delivery of an excellent educational program

  • Schoolwide theme of Empathy and Equity guiding renewed, rethought work around racism, anti-racism, gender, sexuality and consent

  • Thoughtful and meaningful engagement among all constituent groups

  • Nurtured relationships and community connection

Perhaps more than ever, we will be relying on strong partnerships with parents and caregivers. We are all in this together.

First grade girl with butterfly mask over nose and mouth holds a book inside a classroom
Teacher and two students hold class with google meet. Teacher and students in respective homes.

Penn Charter launched its Distance Learning Plan in March 2020, marking a community-wide pivot to new forms of teaching and learning.

Weekly Covid-19 Report, updated 5/7/21

Weekly confirmed cases, with totals since Sept. 11


Lower School

Middle School

Upper School


Total for week

Cumulative Since 9/11/20















Staff  (PC & third-party)







Spring Athletics 

We are pleased to announce plans for the beginning of the spring sports season and look forward to seeing our athletes playing on the fields again. Schedules are posted on

Of course, everything depends on our continued work to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Please recommit to our team and community compact: continue to social distance, wear your mask and practice good hand hygiene. 

Spring Athletics Health & Safety Plan

Click here to read PC’s Athletics Health and Safety Plan: Spring 2021, released on Feb. 21, 2021.

Find it all in the Hub

Find back-to-school resources including the Magnus health app, book ordering and more in the Resources section of the Hub.

Penn Charter HUB

When school begins, visit the Hub to find academic calendars, assignments and many other resources.

Family contact information, including emails, phone numbers and addresses, has been updated for 2020-21.

A Peek into the First Week of School

Students in pre-K to 2 returned to campus for in-person learning. See the happy smiles from indoor and outdoor classrooms. 

Prepare Your Family

Some suggestions for practice before returning to campus.

Teaching and Learning Models

Since spring 2020, Penn Charter has been contingency planning for various scenarios for the 2020-21 academic year, ranging from a full and complete return to campus to full distance learning — and many iterations in between.

Penn Charter determined that, depending on Covid-19 disease levels in the community, we would shift among three different teaching and learning models throughout the year. With each of the following scenarios, we maintain our commitment to support and challenge our students regardless of where learning is taking place.

In both the In-Person and Hybrid models described below we are following CDC guidelines for a safe return to school. This has involved planning and investment in expanded facilities so that we can provide layers of safeguards, including: six feet of physical distance, masking, cohort groups, uni-directional hallways, health screenings, and enhanced housekeeping and sanitation protocols.  


This is an on-campus model with physical distancing, sanitizing protocols and health screenings. Students may experience an altered schedule but are attending school in-person five days a week.


This model combines in-person learning with some potential distance learning experiences. Students may experience small cohorts, staggered starts, staggered lunches, no large gatherings, physical distancing, and health screenings while engaging in learning five days a week.


Physical campus is closed due to high health risk, and all students are engaged in distance learning five days a week.

Find it all in the Hub

Find back-to-school resources including the Magnus health app, book ordering and more in the Resources section of the Hub.

When school begins, visit the Hub to find academic calendars, assignments and many other resources.

Penn Charter HUB

Family contact information, including emails, phone numbers and addresses, has been updated for 2020-21.

Current Thinking on Scheduling, Academic Program

Based on the models above, each division continues to be deep into research, discussion and adjusting schedules that recognize the importance of core academic subjects as well as social connections, movement and relationships to student success and well-being. Given that information and guidance from national, state and local officials change and/or are incomplete, this work remains fluid. The following points provide a snapshot of our goals, work in progress and best thinking at this point in time, and we will have many more details to share in the weeks ahead.

Health & Safety, Facilities and Professional Development

Health & Safety

Penn Charter will take all the necessary steps to limit the risks of COVID-19 spreading in our community, and we ask our students, families and employees to partner with us to maintain a healthy and safe community. We will share more guidelines and plans before the start of school, and we look forward to partnering with you. See Tab 1 below.

Self-quarantine as required: Students or families returning from abroad or from a state with significant spread of COVID-19 (as identified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) must self-quarantine for 14 days. Please carefully consider any travel before the start of school.


We have made significant investments to create expanded and flexible spaces, including 11 tents with floors and flaps, bathroom trailers, and reconfigured spaces such as the lower level of Lower School, plus strategic and selective placement of physical, plexiglass barriers. Our goal is to create classroom space that allows for optimal physical distancing and to provide flexible, open-air spaces for instruction, engagement, lunchtime and other uses. In addition, we have installed new technology setups, including high-quality cameras with superior microphones in some classrooms, so students unable to attend class can follow from home. See Tab 2 below.

Professional Development

The challenges of hybrid and full-distance teaching models, and heightened awareness of equity and gender issues facing PC, require that faculty and staff refresh and expand their skills and competencies. This summer, and continuing throughout the school year, the school is investing resources, and employees’ time, for professional development work in three critical areas: distance learning; race and anti-racism; and gender, sexuality and consent. See Tab 3 below.


If you have questions that are not answered in this webpage content, please contact a Contingency Steering Committee member:

EducationDavid Brightbill, Academic Dean for Curriculum and Professional Development, or Travis Larrabee, Director of Strategic Initiatives
HealthDebra Foley, Coordinator of Health Services
FacilitiesAnsley Cox, Director of Facilities
FinancesHal Davidow, Chief Financial Officer
Race and Anti-RacismAntonio Williams, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Gender, Sexuality and Consent: Aly Goodner, Director of Center for Public Purpose, Nate´ Hall, Associate Director of Admissions


Covid-19 Resources