Back to School Updates

To: Union Memorial Families
From: Linda J. O’Neill
Re: Opening of School (In-person)
Date: October 5, 2020

Due to the vast number of changes that occur on a daily basis from the CDC, I have waited until now to send you this information.  We realize that there are a number of changes taking place, so your patience and cooperation is greatly appreciated.  We are dealing with something that is new to all of us – a pandemic, so our ultimate and primary goal is the safety of our students.  As I always say, I am a mother and a grandmother so I lead with my heart in keeping our children safe.  

The following procedures are as follows:

  1. Temperatures will be taken as students enter the building.  (Please follow the guidelines that are listed in the Re-Opening Handbook and posted on our website concerning a checklist for parents and their child’s wellness).  If a student has a temperature of 100.4, they will be sent to the nurse and you will be notified.  Please have all emergency cards and numbers up to date. 
  2. Masks must be worn upon entering the building and throughout the day, as well as, on the bus.  Even if a student wears a shield they still must wear a mask. They may be removed when eating breakfast/lunch and when given a mask break.  If your child cannot wear a mask, a doctors’ excuse must be provided. Parents are to provide masks for their child.  If he/she forgets their mask, we will provide one for that day. 
  3. Students will be given free breakfast upon entering the building and will eat it in the classroom.
  4. There are tape markings, arrows, etc. on the floors and markers that signify 6 feet apart for social distancing throughout the building. 
  5. Students will place their coats/bookbags/etc. in a large bin that is placed near their desks.  Classrooms have placed all desks approximately 6 feet apart.  Students are assigned seats in the classrooms, in the cafeteria, STEM/Wellness etc. to assist with contact tracing if it becomes necessary. (This is also when riding the bus.)
  6. There will be scheduled bathroom breaks in order to avoid a large number of students in the hallway.  One or two students at a time will be permitted in the bathrooms. (Obviously, if a student needs to use the bathroom at a non-scheduled time, the teacher will accommodate.)
  7. Fifth grade will remain in their classrooms, at the present time, and teachers will rotate.  Art and Music will also be in the classrooms.
  8. Students are encouraged to bring their own water to school with their name on their water bottle, ONLY water, please.  (Avoid any other drinks.) If they forget a bottle, we will have paper cups on hand.  We are in the process of installing equipment on the water fountains where students will be able to fill their bottles. 
  9. At recess, students will remain with their own teacher and their own class in designated areas of the playground and track.  If it rains, they will remain in their classroom, in their seats, so you may want to have them bring something they can play with at their seat i.e., cars/dolls/puzzles/playdough, etc. 
  10. Grade levels will alternate each week eating in the cafeteria.  They will receive a tray that has been prepared by cafeteria staff, with the students’ choice of items.  Other students will eat in their classrooms where lunches will be brought to them. No cafeteria snacks will be sold at the present time.  Everything will be placed in a bag with easy-open containers.  Because everything is hand-packed by the cafeteria staff, we need to know a day in advance whether your child wants a breakfast or their choice for lunch (Regular lunch or WOW Butter for now.) (This year, until funds run out, all students can have a free breakfast and a free lunch.)  Some teachers may ask you to complete a form for the entire week and return it to them on Thursday or Friday.  Please let your child’s teacher know if your child has any allergies. 
  11. Teachers will give students a snack break, so please send a snack for your child.  Teachers will provide packaged crackers if they forget their snack, but please try to remember to send one, if possible.  Again, this is a snack break so please only send one snack.  Also, only water – not pop, etc.  Kindergarten students will receive a choice of chocolate or white milk for their afternoon break.  Do not send any money with them. 
  12. Everyone in the building will try to keep all students safe by wearing masks, by social distancing, by washing hands over and over again, by keeping desks, rooms, doorknobs, playground, cafeteria, etc. clean and sanitized.  Soap dispensers have been placed in each classroom, hallways, cafeteria and anywhere else the staff thought it would be beneficial to all.  Teachers have even planned lessons on handwashing, wearing masks, social distancing, and keeping safe.  
  13. At the end of the day, those riding the bus/van will be called as the bus/van arrives for dismissal.  For those parents who will be driving their children to and from school, we follow the same procedure as previously.  Mr. Kwolek will be present to assist in the morning, however, due to social distancing, he will not be able to open doors.  Have car seats placed behind the driver’s seat to make it safer for your child to exit your vehicle.  For dismissal, Mrs. Mangelli will be outside to text Mr. Papazekos as to what parents have arrived.  Mrs. O’Neill will announce those students (approximately 12 at a time and to assure that they are socially distanced in the hallway) so they can be dismissed to you.  Again, please, please be patient and abide by the procedures when entering from Scotland Lane.  There are two lines and when you arrive closer to the school, please take turns to form one line.  Anyone who does not follow procedures should be reported to the office. 
  14. Procedures are in place, in the event, that someone tests positive.  The administration and nursing staff have worked on this for months in accordance with the CDC.
  15. As we have said, everything we have planned will be revisited and reevaluated in the days to come.  If we think there is a better way to keep your child safe, we will make the necessary changes.  

Hopefully, I have answered many of your questions/concerns, however, if you have any others that I may not have answered, please feel free to call the school.  Also, please check the website for Dr. Ross’ Letter to Parents and for any updates. There is so much gratitude that goes out to the many staff members who have worked so hard to make this day, Oct. 5th, happen in a safe manner – Dr. Ross, Dr. O’Donnell, Mr. Nogay, Mr. Miller, the IT staff, the teachers, and all the support staff.  Without reservation, the staff of the Union Area School District cares deeply about your children, the families, and our community as a whole. I also want to say a great big “thank you” to the parents and family members who have stepped up to the plate and helped their children on our synchronous learning. For those remaining on virtual learning, please let us know if we can help you with anything.  Due to the pandemic, I know it’s been a learning experience for all of us, but we must remain safe, stay healthy, and be strong, Union strong.  We will keep you updated.   



Linda J. O’Neill



Dear Union Families:

I hope this message finds you and your family well.  As we begin in-person instruction tomorrow, I wanted to share a few important ideas with our families.  

Speaking on behalf of our entire school community, we miss your children and we cannot wait to welcome them back to school.  The past 7 months have been challenging, but we have all been working very hard to get back to school as safely and normally as possible.  We strongly believe that students learn best and teachers teach best in the classroom.  

I want to thank you and your children for enduring through these difficult times.  You have shown resilience and determination that I’ve come to recognize is different in Union than other places.  Although it’s been difficult and we will continue to experience challenges, our community finds a way to meet those challenges and support one another.  The best way to make this work is by working together.

Obviously, school won’t look exactly like it did last spring, but all the changes and precautions are designed to keep our students safe and help ensure we can keep the school open.  Please encourage your children to follow all the guidelines and do their part as of member of our team.  We all have the same goal to stay healthy and be in school, so let’s work together to make that happen.  

We have a significant amount of information on our website under the “Back to School Updates” page.  Please continually check back for updates or answers to frequently asked questions.  Below are a few important reminders to keep in mind as we near the start of in-person instruction.  As always, you can call or email us at any time if you need help with anything or require further clarification.  

We can do this!

Michael A. Ross, EdD, MBA


Union Area School District
Back to School Information for Parents

  • Please encourage your students to wear masks.  They are required in school at all times except when eating/drinking or during mask breaks.  If your child has a medical issue that prevents them from wearing a mask, we will respectfully ask for medical documentation from a doctor.  The medical conditions must be related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA.
  • Temperatures will be taken as students enter the buildings.  We are in the process of installing thermal scanning cameras to assist with this process, but we will use touchless thermometers until installation is complete.  Students will be sent to the nurse for further evaluation if they register a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.  
  • We are asking families to screen your children for symptoms and fevers.  It is crucial to keep students home when they are sick and/or have fevers.  If you keep your students home because of sickness/fever, they will be considered excused absences. We have various instructional delivery options for any student requiring an extended absence from school.
  • If you’re dropping your students off at school, please do not bring elementary students prior to 8:20 AM or middle/high school students prior to 7:30 AM.  This helps us minimize congregating and having large groups of students in one area.  
  • We are encouraging families to send their students with water bottles. Students are not permitted to use water fountains for drinking.  Only water is permitted to be sent with students.  
  • We will not be utilizing an “Activity Bus” this year.  If your students are staying for after-school activities in the middle/high school, such as organizational meetings or tutoring, transportation home will not be provided.

Staying on Synchronous Learning

If you did not sign up to remain on synchronous learning but would like your student to remain virtual after, please contact your child’s school.

If you signed up to stay on synchronous learning but would now like your child to attend in-person starting on, please contact your child’s school.

Student Mask Requirement

Student masks are required at all times when in school, even when socially distanced, in accordance with the PA DOH guidance issued on August 17, 2020.  Students are permitted to remove their masks when:

  • Eating or drinking when spaced at least 6 feet apart; or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task; or
  • At least 6 feet apart during “face-covering breaks” to last no longer than 10 minutes

Must an individual provide evidence that they qualify for an exception to the mask Order?

Schools must require all students over 2 years of age to wear face coverings, except for any student who has a medical or mental health condition or disability that precludes the wearing of a face covering in school. Notwithstanding Section 3, Paragraph B of Secretary Levine’s July 1, 2020 Order regarding face coverings, schools may require such students to provide medical documentation. PDE recommends that any documentation that is provided be in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA of such medical or mental health condition or disability.   Documentation must be submitted to the school nurse if a student qualifies for a mask exemption.  That exemption must be in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA.


All parents who plan to have their student use school transportation are encouraged to complete the TRANSPORTATION SURVEY .  This survey will be used to develop bus runs and, to the maximum extent possible, socially distance students on the bus.  Students must wear a mask when riding school transportation.

Assigned Seats

All students will have assigned seats in all classrooms, the cafeteria, and on school transportation.  Students may only sit in their assigned seat.

Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

If you have not done so, please review Pages 17-19 of the REOPENING HANDBOOK for information regarding the isolation and quarantine procedures.

If a student is sent home for any reason on the School Symptom Screening Tool, the student must be symptom-free for 24 hours without medication before being permitted to return to school.   For example, if a student is sent home at 11 am with vomiting and chills, they cannot return to school before 11 am the following day.  Or, the student must present a doctor’s excuse providing confirmation of an alternative diagnosis that explains the symptoms.

If a student is sent home for any reason on the School Symptom Screening Tool, the school nurse will provide a written explanation of why the student is being dismissed as well as the date/time that the student is permitted to return to school.  The nurse will communicate with parents regarding return to school on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific circumstances.  If the nurse recommends that students stay home from school, those days will be excused for the student.

The school nurse will also make determinations as to whether or not siblings should be dismissed along with the student.  These determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific circumstances.  If the school nurse dismisses siblings, these days will be excused from school.

Ultimately, parents should keep their children home from school if they are unwell.  For the 2020-2021 school year, the district will accept any parent excuse related to illness as a valid reason why the student was not in school.