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.

Weekly Covid-19 Report, updated 1/22/21

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)







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

Winter Athletics Health and Safety Plan

Click here to read PC's Winter Athletics Health and Safety Plan, released on Jan. 18, 2021.

Winter Athletics Parent Forum

Click here to watch the Jan. 12 Winter Athletics Parent Forum with PC Athletics staff.

Statement from the Inter-Academic League, Jan. 7, 2021

The Inter-Academic Athletic League heads of school and directors of athletics are meeting regularly to review the latest guidelines provided by our local counties, CHOP PolicyLab and the CDC. We remain optimistic that with strong protocols in place and vigilant adherence to state and local guidelines we can move forward with an abbreviated winter sports season.

Beginning immediately, league schools are permitted to conduct athletics activities in accordance with local and school guidelines. Schools may begin league-only play the week of Feb. 1, 2021, and the winter sports season will conclude by Feb. 28.

Individual schools may choose in which sports they will participate without consequence from the league. Additional information about schedules, health and safety protocols will be forthcoming, including the high probability of extremely limited numbers of spectators at venues.

Covid-19 Resources