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New Hope-Solebury to begin school year with virtual-only classes

The New-Hope Solebury School District announced Monday that classes for grades K-12 will start the school year on Sept. 8 in a completely virtual model for all students.

Parents had chosen only last week between two plans offered for their children to return to school — in person and a virtual school option — a decision rendered moot by today’s announcement.

The development comes as a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that nearly 100,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July.

“Like the districts around us, we are convinced that delaying our in-person opening is the right option for our community’s health,” said New Hope-Solebury School Superintendent Dr. Charles Lentz in a letter to parents. “We have seen alarming reports from schools across the country who have attempted to reopen. Even with all safety precautions in place, these case studies indicate that there is greater concern for the level of student infections and the spread of the disease among children than had been previously known.”

Lentz will formally make the recommendation to move the program online for the first marking period to the Board of School Directors for expected ratification at a special meeting scheduled for Aug. 12.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this will cause; however, we felt that we needed to make this decision sooner rather than later so that families can make necessary arrangements,” Lentz said. “We are working with the Bucks County YMCA to provide emergency childcare, as we know this outcome has a major impact on working families.

“Thank you in advance for your understanding,” he added. “I can appreciate the worry and concern that you have had trying to balance your family’s safety and your child’s educational needs.”


About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • As I predicted, a very easy prediction, in my last post, the school board last night at the urging of the superintendent voted 8-1 to allow for Fall sports while at the same time keeping in place no in-person teaching with the possible exception of special education.
    It was at the August 12th school board meeting that the superintendent stated, “The staff has to feel protected and comfortable.”That is why there is no brick and mortar teaching. No question about it, in New Hope Solebury, TEACHERS RULE!

  • And let’s not forget the non voting but very influential board member number 10, the superintendent, who quietly pulls the strings behind the scenes. No question about it, if the vast majority of parents who wanted a return to brick and mortar had protests and demonstrations in front of the district office on Bridge Street and invited the media the result may have been different.
    Prediction- The school board will vote to have Fall sports because they know if they don’t their will be massive demonstrations from the kids and their parents.School districts never want to draw media attention to themselves when the attention is negative.

  • This is what you get when school board leaders with no practical experience on a vanity project meet with a real crisis. No leadership, no willingness to make hard decisions. Easily influenced by panic porn media and social media. No one looking at real data. When asked about what data informed their predetermined decision to close school, the board was unable to answer and said they would post the data on the website. Of course they did not do this. Just ignore the wishes of 81% of NH parents. Ignore the overall welfare of New Hope’s kids in favor of zero Covid risk (which itself poses statistically zero risk for kids)

  • In response to Steve Petit’s question about removing a person from a school board, there is a mechanism for doing so as outlined in an article written by Christina Tatu on May 13, 2014 entitled “Parents petition to remove 2 from Stroudsburg School Board.”
    Now to paraphrase Mrs. Sheehan’s statement from what Mr. Petit said, that unless the chances of catching the virus are zero, the risk is too high, I would ask, is the probability of catching the flu at zero or is it above zero? If above zero, should we close the schools until it reaches zero?
    Now here are the big questions that will be facing the flip flopping school board at its next meeting.Since the PIAA ruled today that schools will have the authority to have Fall sports or not have Fall sports, how will the school board vote?Yea or Nay? If they vote in favor of having Fall sports can they present substantial evidence that the risk of catching the virus will be substantially less on the athletic field where they will be literally on top of each other during play without masks than being in the classrooms with masks 6 feet apart with windows wide open ( except when it rains) for Sept. and Oct.
    The Board can’t have it both ways. Either school is open for in class academics AND sports or no sports and virtual learning for both. The ball is in the Board’s court.

    • Mel the football and soccer teams have been practicing every day for weeks. Everyone knows this is safe. Their PARENTS are OK with it. All they want…all that is incremental to what they’re already doing…is to play a few games. Why are you trying to take that away from them? They’ve been robbed of so much. Can’t you just give them that?

  • Mark Richel…no only did Liz Sheehan keep repeating “the risk is not zero…” she actually then said “…and that’s too high for me”. God help us if a person with such simple intelligence is making decisions as important as this. Serious question (I’m looking at you Mel Band), is there a mechanism to remove school board members (or a school board President) for incompetence? If not, and with this utterly moronic and ultimately tragic zero risk bar, then this idiocy will not end after 1 marking period

  • The sad fact is that this school board, unlike all of the others that I have seen in the 17 years I have been coming to meetings, exhibits a total lack of direction, leadership and a commitment to take a stand without flip flopping. They are followers,seeing which way the wind is blowing and going with the wind.
    Ask them what will be the specific criteria that will determine when you will reopen the schools? And when the schools are opened, how many positive cases will it take to close the schools? Will their answer be,” we will play it by ear?”
    One way to increase public speaking time is for the public to actually run a town hall meeting not to call for a town hall meeting but to actually run one wherein they are in charge, not the school board or administration. You can also have demonstrations right outside the school making sure it is video taped with the media invited.And do get permits. Administrations like publicity like Superman likes krytonite.
    Tomorrow, Friday will will be a defining moment when the PIAA will rule on Fall sports. If the PIAA says yes, then how can a district in good conscience say yes to sports and no to classroom learning which would be hypocritical. We will soon find out.

    • Mel….my guess is that the board members, who are for the most part amateurs, are deferring to Dr Lentz. He’s a pro with all the right bona fides. Smart young guy with a long career ahead of him…he’s got his eye on much bigger Supt gigs. Of course he will recommend the least risky and safest path to his own career, which is in conflict with the OVERALL safest decision for the students.

  • Orange Man bad. Must inflict maximum pain on American people and children, and show how it is all because of Orange Man. No human cost is too great as long as Orange Man go away in November.

  • I agree with Joe P. The school board members have proven to be inept and they have shirked their responsibility. Limiting public comment was an abomination. Past issues over the years have been discussed at meetings without an imposed 1 hour limit. The board’s smug and condescending repression of debate made this a meaningless kangaroo court where the 9-0 unanimous decision was predetermined. I used to admire our school district, but what they have done to our kids is beyond the pale. And I’m not optimistic looking forward. The President of all people (Sheehan) kept saying “the risk is not zero”, as if this was some intelligent insight. If zero risk is this idiot’s test for opening school then we are doomed

  • Regarding day care that can be obtained from the Bucks County YMCA. Is Supt. Lentz aware that the cost is $1200 a week paid for by the parents? Do the math. For one marking period of 13 weeks the cost is $15,600. That is about the same amount of money that teacher aides make in a whole year. Compound this with the fact that child care is essentially a baby sitting service that will take place in a building just 200 yards from the New Hope Solebury campus.
    And get this. Supt. Lentz who is supposedly so opposed to brick and mortar learning at this time is okay with little kids bunched together in an enclosed environment?

  • To Joe Pignatore’s point about accounting for the radical switch by the school board from a vote of 8-1 in favor of two options- virtual or in school, to a 9-0 vote to have only a virtual education.For the first vote of 8-1 the expression shown on the faces of the 8 who voted for the two options( via Zoom) was very positive for they and the supt. were going forward feeling good that they would have the best plan to educate all the kids
    Yet when I looked at their faces for the 9-0 vote even at the beginning of the meeting ( it was already a done deal) you could see the negativity. Supt Lentz had a change of heart feeling that he could not handle two options even though his administrators are all top of the line professionals. The vote in fact was a referendum acknowledging their lack of confidence in his leadership.

  • What is the emotional effect on a child who becomes infected with Covid and then passes it on to a parent or grandparent? Likely the child will be fine, even asymptomatic.

    There has been and will continue to be community spread in New Hope and Solebury. Until there is an effective vaccine or adequate testing and contract tracing, we cannot just pretend everything is fine.

    • Oh you’re one of the “until there’s a vaccine” people. Vaccine’s a long way off and we can’t even get our shit together for tests you think we can vaccinate everyone a year from now when there’s a vaccine in the best case? If we listen to you and your ilk we are doomed. And to your earlier point, yeah a severe minority of kids might give the bug to their parents, although you really don’t know how it happened. And the parents will probably be OK. Let’s just shut down the country forever to appease intellectual lightweights like you

  • Shame on the School Board! How do you go from near unanimously in favor of live school to the unanimous vote for no school in less than 2 weeks? Other districts are doing it? (Districts 5 times our size). You read something about a camp in Georgia? You heard that kids are testing positive in Arizona? All those kids and campers are fine. You know how I know? Because if they weren’t you would have giddy 24/7 coverage of it from the media and twitter, you know, the things that control your weak brains. You are all worthless and weak and have no regard for the well being of children. Bunch of brain dead nitwit followers.

    • “…the things that control your weak brains. You are all worthless and weak and have no regard for the well being of children. Bunch of brain dead nitwit followers.”

      Angry keyboard rants and childish name calling are usually the signs of a strong man and an intellectual heavyweight. Teach us from on high, master.

      But on a more serious note –

      I’ve seen a lot of people here say “other districts are doing it”, or “bigger districts are doing it”, or “private schools are doing it”, or “Catholic schools are doing it”…so why can’t we?

      This is the start big experiment, isn’t it? We don’t know the results yet, and who will end up looking wise by October or November. Anyone that claims to know is lying or delusional.

      Are we going to consider the plans of these private schools, Catholic schools, or other public districts a great success if they start shutting down again by late September?

      Or if, while trying to remain open, dozens of kids and teachers at a time are constantly sent home to quarantine after exposure, turning the year into a chaotic mess – never knowing who will be there and who will not?

      Even though I support the side of caution and starting virtual, I truly wish the schools that are reopening full success, because I want to get “back to normal” as much as anyone. If schools reopen and everything goes well I think everyone will be happy.

      The only thing we actually know today is that some districts and private schools are planning to reopen, but as Mike Tyson said – “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

  • We are NOT central bucks. NHS could have handled this. But Lentz is a shameless careerist who does not have what’s best for the well being of our kids as his first priority. Complete lack of leadership, courage, and yes, ethics. Lentz’s sole focus is the minimalization of his own professional risk over the minimalization of our students’ health risk.

  • At last night’s emergency New Hope Solebury school board meeting, all nine members of the school board voted to have ONLY virtual learning for the first marking period. What exactly happened to motivate eight members to switch their vote from giving the parents an option of brick and mortar or virtual to ONLY virtual- from 8-1 in favor of both to 9-0 for ONLY virtual. What was the motivation to have them flip the switch?
    I do not buy into Supt. Lentz’s explanation given in the above article that we have to base our decisions on what happens in the other parts of the country. So what happened?Only the board members know for sure.

  • Decisions to open or close are made by school boards & district superintendents. Liability & the desire to not be the focus of media attention if an outbreak occurs are the two motivating factors, not the best interests of the students. Teachers are not at these meetings. They are not consulted. Media gives the false impression that teachers want to stay home. Not true. The media listens to the loud-mouthed Democrat Marxists that have taken over the state teachers’ unions who are pushing a socialist agenda that has nothing to do with educating children. Why have educators become the answer to every problem in our society (childcare, nutrition, healthcare, mental welfare, etc.)? Yes, the daycare worker is underpaid, but she is babysitting not educating children. No disrespect intended, but do not compare apples to oranges. Teachers have died in schools protecting their students and they are reminded of that possibility every time the school practices their lockdown drills. Cowards? I’ve sat in dark, locked classroom closets with 20 scared kids behind me trying to keep them quiet & calm. I’m no coward & I earned every cent they paid me. Shame on you, Karl.

    • “…the loud-mouthed Democrat Marxists that have taken over the state teachers’ unions who are pushing a socialist agenda that has nothing to do with educating children.”

      The non-unionized private schools attended by Barron Trump and Ivanka/Jared’s kids will not reopen in September, so those Trump kids will be going virtual.

      Just sayin’.

      • Just sayin’ what? Here’s one example of the Democrat Marxist leaders that have taken over teachers’ unions. The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) is the poster child for this level of extortion. Their motto, I’m sure, is to never let a good crisis go to waste.

        “The UTLA issued a report with a list of demands to return to teaching in the Los Angeles United School District in the fall. It is full of critical social justice gobbledygook and requirements that have nothing to do with keeping children, teachers, or staff safe.” Defund the police, eliminate charter schools, Medicare for all, universal coverage for illegals, wealth tax on billionaires, etc. I doubt that the non-unionized schools that are remaining closed made these types of demands.

  • Speaking to Linda Wardell’s comment about Supt. Lentz’ lack of courage.
    Our district needs people at the top who are leaders not followers. Just because nearby districts are going virtual( which have several times our enrollment) must we be a bunch of sheeple and follow them? Here’s what I would tell the teachers who are too afraid to go back into the classroom if I was supt.Take a 3 month unpaid leave of absence. The district will save the money from your $100,000 plus salary and increase the pay for substitutes from $100 a day to $150.
    My job as Supt.First and Foremost is to do everything possible to ensure the safety and welfare of my students in All aspects of their being. This means having them sit in front of a screen for 5-6 hours a day at home is detrimental to their physical health.Likewise being at home is detrimental to their emotional, pyschological and social health. Believe it or not the % of students in New Hope Solebury who are legally classified with disabilities of all sorts is above the national average. They need to be physically in school.

  • To answer Joe Schmome’s question about where the money goes that is saved. It will go into the general fund account to used for what ever the board deems necessary.

  • Alas the lost generation.These are the people that will be caring for us in a few years.Melvin,Cecil,Linda,Steve and Jeff I enjoy your comments but nothing replaces in person teaching certainly not Zoom.Now if Game Boy(Nintendo) Sony and the others game companies switched only to Education(reading,writing ,math ,civics history) then there could be hope.But I fear the dumbing down has occured at such a rapid rate that it is hard to reverse.AHHH do not think I do not have hope maybe just maybe rationale,common sense thinkers will push against this trend and make our school system which was the envy of the world back again.I pray for that day.

    • Reggie I too fear the laziness that is going on. I have a story to relate. The Children’s Center in Doylestown was hit by what they think was a Tornado they had no warning one person screamed TORNADO a worker there immediately pushed the children into a large closet held it with her hands her body in front of the children and did not open until the Fireman came and opened. SHE IS PAID POVERTY WAGES in comparison to the high salaries and gilt edge benefits that teachers get just look at Council Rock as one example BUT these cowards won’t even brave a classroom. They talk the talk but never walk the walk. Sad very sad.Shame on you Teachers shame.

      • Karl is wildly off-base; this is not driven by the teachers (all of whom would risk their lives to protect their kids).

        The hatred for teachers will never cease to amaze or horrify me.

        Cowards. Such vileness. Shame on you.

          • That would be “you’re” dead wrong, Patty. Guess you have a chip on your shoulder when it comes to teachers. Let me make that chip a little bigger. I’ll type it correctly for you with the proper punctuation, sentence structure and spelling. Sorry, Dan. You’re dead wrong. Teacher in your family?

      • The teachers you’re attempting to be shame are the same ones that regularly train to protect children when an active shooter breaches their doors. They’re braver than you’ll ever be, so keep the word “coward” out of your mouth.

        The difference between the lunatic with the gun they’re ready to defend against and today’s situation is a simple one:

        The threat of losing their life to the virus will pass. Pandemics end. This one, likely while it still says 2021 on the calendar. This is a temporary shift.

        I hope our teachers know that most of us appreciate them. Don’t let the online bullies like Karl get to you.

      • It’s not the teachers. The vast majority of them have no use for the unions that take their money and advocate endless closing of schools, not to help teachers but to appease their Democrat party benefactors. Overwhelming majority of teachers want to go back to work. Your beef is with the unions, the cowardly superintendents, and the two-bit local politicians on the school boards

    • Two comments:

      1. This isn’t permanent. Pandemics end. There is every indication that vaccines will be widely available in the next 6-9 months. Oxford, Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna are where I’d put my money, but even beyond them there are dozens more showing extremely promising results. After fears in the first few months, consensus seems to have coalesced around the idea that this is not a particularly hard virus to inoculate against.

      If people are worried about the speed which with it’s been done, bear in mind that for viruses that don’t directly disable the immune system (i.e. HIV), the biggest hindrance to developing vaccines is funding. This is the first time in history that the best minds at private companies, universities, and governments around the world have simultaneously been funded to defeat a singe virus. In addition, the Oxford vaccine is a variation on the MERS vaccine they’ve been developing for many years, with safety already well established.

      It’s a matter of months, not decades, and will not result in a “lost generation”. Things will return to normal, it just may say 2021 on the calendar instead of 2020, and in the meantime we will do the best we can. It may not be 100%, but it will not be the downfall of a generation. WWII didn’t ruin a generation, and a few months of virtual schooling will not either.

      2. The “dumbing down” of America being blamed on this is a farce; it began at least a generation ago, and it was on purpose. We could talk all day about the current system that allows inner city public school teachers to buy all their own classroom supplies while the others arrange for Buffy and Tucker to study trust fund management and attend equestrian camp. But hey, we see those fun corporate tax cuts, the elimination of estate taxes, payroll tax cuts, untaxed capital gains…

      Let’s address the the big picture before we pin a “lost generation” on 6 months of virtual schooling during a global pandemic.

  • I just saw Dr. Fauci ( we all know who he is) being interviewed by David Muir at ABC TV ( 806) who said that we can’t lump all regions of the country together. In regions where the rate of infection is low, SEND them back to school!The negative pyschological consequences of keeping them home must be considered.

  • “Looking at the empirical data” Bullsh*t !!!
    They’re not looking at any empirical data. They’re just following the hysterical herd. Taking the easy way, path of least resistance. Path of minimal political risk. Pathetic careerist.

  • If the staff can’t stay well, they can’t teach the entire year and we get substitutes coming into an already challenging virtual teaching method. I feel for the parents with younger kids – this will be hard. But now at least we can all plan and not have to “react” to sudden closures. Thanks to the school board and staff for looking at the empirical data from the recent school openings and getting in front of it.

  • Although I did not take part in the last virtual school board meeting, I did listen to the audio. Can someone tell me why NO teachers spoke during the public speaking part of the meeting? Where was the head of the teacher’s union to give his input? We have two nurses yet they didn’t give their first hand input. Why Not? Will they be available for the next meeting? Will Supt. Lentz impress upon them to give their feedback?
    Now it is hard to measure what the kids lose by not being in school besides academics. How does this quarantine affect them emotionally, psychologically socially especially students whom have learning disabilities?

  • Supt. Lentz’s decision to close the schools and go virtual is based on reports throughout the country that even with many safeguards in place there is concern that the level of infection will spread. Even if the level of infection does increases along with an increase of the spread of disease there are questions to be asked
    (1) Is the spread due ONLY because the kids are in close proximity to each other in the classrooms and hallways, gyms etc OR in addition to this closeness our middle school and high school athletes are basically on top of each other during practices, scrimmages and game? Can you entertain sports and yet close the rooms?If so, this is hypocrisy.
    I just saw on TV that the Philadelphia Catholic League has shut down all sports until 2021. Will the PIAA follow suit?(2) Apples and oranges. Even if there is a rise in cases in school districts throughout the country in school buildings that are mirror images of ours, we have to compare the rate of infections in the communities in which the schools are found. Does Supt. Lentz have numbers? By the way, as of now by order of New York Gov. Cuomo New York City schools which have 1.1 million students which historically have class enrollment in the 30’s will be reopened for virtual/ brick and mortar learning compared to New Hope Solebury with many classes in the teens and low 20’s.

  • Quarantine has been shown to slow nothing. Remember in March our genius governors?…”2-3 weeks quarantine and everything will be back to normal”

    Here we are 5 months later and nothing has changed. I have been to work everyday since this pandemic. I’m not even an essential worker. I just have pride in my work. Maybe teachers should as well?

  • Great decision.

    We have enough districts around the country acting as guinea pigs in this “experiment”, and so far the results are as expected – instant spread, kids in school for two or three days followed by half of them having to quarantine for two weeks, random school closures for “disinfecting” (useless hygiene theater – pretending the spread is caused by gunk on the floors and not the hundreds of kids breathing the same air) –

    I understand the desire to have the kids back in school; but the chaos of open/close/open/close/open/quarantine/etc is pointless.

    Virtual may never fully replicate the benefits of in person instruction during a stable time, but surely the stability of online is more beneficial than being in school for 2 days, 150 kids quarantine for two weeks, close the school for disinfecting, back in class for 1 day, repeat…

    This was a wise decision for stability, the safety of teachers/custodians/staff, and the health of our community.

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