Return to School 2020-21

Teaching and Learning Models

Since the spring, 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.

We now have determined that, depending on Covid-19 disease levels in the community, we will be shifting among three different teaching and learning models in the coming school 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.

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.

Current Thinking on Scheduling, Academic Program

Based on the models above, each division is deep into research, discussion and prototyping for 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.

Welcome Back! First Week Together a Success!

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

Penn Charter has 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 covers us for one month, yet we must remain flexible because circumstances could change in ways that we cannot foresee.

The full details of our plan appear in the chart below. On Tuesday, Sept. 29, it is our hope that our phased opening will be complete and we will begin the week 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 in-person and distance 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.

Covid-19 Confirmed Cases, updated 9/18/20

Cumulative report of confirmed cases, updated weekly


Lower School

Middle School

Upper School


Starting Sept. 11













Staff  (PC & third-party)






Schedule for Grades Return to School


Week of Aug. 31

Week of Sept. 8

Week of  Sept. 14

Week of Sept.21

Beginning Sept. 29


Orientation, as planned

In-Person and Distanced

In-Person and Distanced


In-Person and Distanced

Grades 3-5

Orientation, as planned

Distance Learning

Distance Learning

In-Person and Distanced

Middle School

Orientation, as planned

Distance Learning

Distance Learning

Reintroduction to Campus

In-Person and Distanced

Upper School

Orientation, as planned

Distance Learning

Distance Learning

Reintroduction to Campus

On Campus
Hybrid Model
Blue Week
(Distance Option)

Important Dates

Weeks of Sept 8 and Sept 14:

  • Grades pre-K to 2: begin classes in-person (with virtual option for families that chose it)
  • Grades 3-12: full distance learning.

Week of Sept. 21: 

  • Grades pre-K to 2: continue classes in-person (with virtual option for families who chose it)
  • Grades 6-12: full distance learning, but small classes or individual grades will be invited to campus for in-person learning, practice with the health and safety protocols, and community building

Monday, Sept. 21: 3rd grade In-person learning option begins

Tuesday, Sept. 22: 4th grade In-person learning option begins

Wednesday, Sept. 23: 5th grade in-person learning option begins

Monday, Sept. 28: No classes grades pre-K to 12: Yom Kippur

Week beginning Tues. Sept 29: Full hybrid mode grades pre-K to 12, in person for families who want it, virtual for those who chose it. 

Prepare Your Family

Some suggestions for practice before returning to campus.

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.


Penn Charter's Return to Athletics Conditioning and Team Skills Program

The Inter-Academic Athletic League is developing schedules to make it possible for athletes to compete later in this school year. And, to prepare for that opportunity, Penn Charter will offer the conditioning sessions, followed by team skill development and conditioning sessions beginning Sept. 21. Review the Athletics Health and Safety Plan and the announcement for details. 

Inter-Ac Statement, August 26 

The members of the Inter-Academic Athletics League continue to focus on plans for the 2020-21 academic year with the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and their communities the primary concern. In response to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Directors of Athletics and Heads of School have been meeting diligently to address opening our schools safely, as well as the safety and well-being of our communities. Athletics engagement is an important part of the experience for many of our students, and member institutions remain committed to this experience. However, the Heads of School and Directors of Athletics have unanimously decided to suspend any inter-scholastic competition through December 31, 2020. This decision was made given the unprecedented health concerns we face in our community and in consideration with Gov. Wolf’s strong recommendation, as well as updated policy recommendations from CHOP PolicyLab

Additionally, member schools may maintain conditioning, skill development and sport practices from September 14 through November 20 in accordance with Gov. Wolf’s guidelines and CHOP PolicyLab requirements. At Penn Charter, we are working with strength & conditioning staff and coaches to develop a fall athletics experience so athletes can improve their physical conditioning and skills, as well as maintain team engagement, even if only virtually. Any athletic engagement will begin and proceed slowly and with an abundance of caution.

Should conditions permit, the League intends to hold three 7 week seasons for our student-athletes in the new year. Traditional fall, winter and spring sports may be moved due to health concerns, facility availability or weather conditions. Additional information regarding these seasons will be available shortly. 

The Inter-Academic Athletic League members are deeply aware of the importance of athletics to our student-athletes and communities. This difficult decision was not made lightly, and every effort was made to maintain our fall athletic season. We are deeply saddened that this was not possible.


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

Communications to Families about Reopening and DEI

First Two Weeks of Middle School: Arrival and Dismissal, What to Bring, Chorus, Sept. 18, 2020.

Wellness, New Teachers, Plans for Next Week [Upper School], Sept. 18, 2020.

Lower School News and Updates for Next Week, Sept. 18, 2020.

Fall Athletics Plan During Covid-19,  Sept. 15, 2020.

Head of School Darryl J. Ford Welcome Video, Sept. 7, 2020.

New Middle School Teachers, Parent Survey, Distance Learning Schedule, Sept. 3, 2020.

Upper School Student Schedules, Sept. 2, 2020.

Classroom Tours, Virtual Tour, Virtual Teachers, Arrival & Dismissal [Lower School], Sept. 2, 2020.

Safety iPass Daily Screening Instructions, August 30, 2020.

Community Compact, Acceptable Use Policy and Community Code [Upper School], Aug. 28, 2020.

Electing Your Student's Learning Model, Teacher Assignment [Lower School], August 27, 2020.

Screening, Compact, Tutorial Videos, August 27, 2020.

Middle School Orientation Details, August 26, 2020.

PC Plans for Phased Reopening. August 24, 2020. 

Middle School Back-to-School Updates, August 21, 2020.

Orientation, Cohort Classes, Hybrid Update [Lower School]. August 21, 2020. 

Upper School Back-to-School Update. August 21, 2020.

Blue and Yellow Team Assignments [Upper School]. August 19, 2020.

Parent Update and Pulse Survey. August 15, 2020.

Upper School Back-to-School Update [Parents]. August 15, 2020.

Upper School Back-to-School Update [Grades 9-12]. August 15, 2020.

Middle School Back-to-School Update. August 15, 2020.

Lower School Back-to-School Update. August 15, 2020.

Covid-19 Resources