Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Conestoga sports team members test positive for Covid-19 — Where will this leave the Fall sports program in TE?

At Monday night’s TE school board meeting, the board spent much time discussing the fall sports program with board members on either side. The decision about the fall sports program (as of Monday night) was that team practice would continue as it had in the summer with a final decision coming at the next regular school board meeting, the end of September.

However, it looks like there has been change of plans. On Thursday, the TE coaches received the email below from Chris Groppe and Kevin Pechin. Due to positive Covid-19 test results from several Conestoga sports teams, practices scheduled for August 27 – 30 have been cancelled and there will be no practice the week of August 31. An update on sports activities will be provided on or before Sept. 6.

Before seeing the email from Groppe and Pechin, a parent had told me that the sports programs were “on hold” so as that everyone could focus on the virtual opening of school. (The parent had not mentioned the Covid-19 test results). And to clarify, this email does not specify which sports teams were impacted by positive test results.

I do not see this as promising news for the fall sports program – but perhaps the parents of sports students read it differently.

Good Afternoon,

The District has been in consultation with the Chester County Health Department regarding confirmed cases of Covid-19 among members of several Conestoga sports teams, symptom screening results, and student athlete quarantine orders.

After reviewing the situation, and because this is a voluntary activity, all off-season sports activities scheduled for Thursday August 27, Friday, August 28, Saturday, August 29, and Sunday August 30 have been cancelled. As you are aware, to enable an effective start with virtual schooling next week, we will not hold any off-season sports activities during the week of August 31. We will provide an update on the status of off-season sports activities on or before Sept 6, 2020.

To help mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in our community, please continue to engage in habits that prevent the spread of Covid-19, including limiting close contact with people outside of your household, wearing a mask, engaging in social distancing, and frequent handwashing.

If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, the Chester County Health Department would notify you directly. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of another person for 15 minutes or longer.

More information about health and safety protocols are available at our website:

Chris Groppe, Ed.D. Director of Individualized Student Services Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

Kevin Pechin Athletic Director Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

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  1. Thank you for sharing with the public. I find it curiously disappointing that sports parents were asking the public to lobby the Board prior to Monday’s meeting to move forward with sports when we now know athletes had been identified as having covid and in quarantine. If this letter was received on Thursday it had to have been known prior to Monday’s Board meeting. Extremely disappointing to know that parents are putting sports over the health of our children and community. It’s not just about the sport. These kids work in our local stores, hang out with each other and visit with family, babysit our kids, etc. another concerning thought is sports parents are also strongly lobbying Conestoga to hold an in person SAT day. Thanks for not sharing covid cases while you plan to put kids in harms way.

    1. Disappointed,

      You say:

      “”””””If this letter was received on Thursday it had to have been known prior to Monday’s Board meeting.”””””””

      You are correct. Information should be shared immediately. This is not in the parents. This is on the Administration and Board.

  2. I appreciate that you shared this with the public Pattye. And I hope that unlike what happened with the teachers union rep, the school district has enough sense not to try and bully you into taking it down.

    In the middle of this pandemic, everyone is already on edge, especially the parents. To keep this kind of information from the public is unthinkable. What is wrong with the school board and the administration??

    I understand the need to protect the students, so don’t tell me the names of the students but surely we should know which sports team they are on! I have a CHS student who does weekly yard work and another one babysits on occasion.Jeez, even if they don’t have covid, have they had direct contact with the students with it? I have an elderly parent living with me, has she been in contact with one of these students? Do any of these students have part-time jobs in the community?

    This is serious, so why isn’t the administration and school district keeping us ALL in the loop? Why send this email to only the coaches, what about a statement from the Superintendent or the school board? Or does the public have to wait until the next school board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

    These people have no idea what transparency means!

    1. No transparency!

      Below is a list of Executive Committee members with the Teachers Union taken from their website. As Pattye stated, it still lists Bob DeSipio as President and Amy Alvarez as Vice President. When Amy called Pattye and intimidated her into taking down the letter a teacher sent her from Ms, Alvarez, Ms. Alvarez told Pattye she was in fact the President of the teachers union. Who knows what the truth is? And that’s the point, isn’t it? We never get accurate information informing us about what is going on so we can make good decisions about our families.

      Executive Committee

      President – Bob DeSipio
      Vice President – Amy Alvarez
      Vice President – Jeremy Hampton
      Secretary – Amy Hawkins
      Treasurer – Susan Crocker
      Committee Chairs

      Advanced Studies – Dawn Settle
      Benefits/Maternity – Katie VanThuyne
      Child Rearing/Leave – Katie VanThuyne
      Communications – Website – Michael Stefano
      Communications – Social – Kim McPhillips
      Communications – Video – Ben Smith
      Coordinated Bargaining – Craig Gratton
      Elections – Kate McClain
      Grievance – Jen Crothamel
      IPD/Curriculum Council – Jen Tyrell
      Legislative – Katie Walter
      Membership – Brooke Eidell
      Mobilization – Paul Poiesz
      PACE – Mark DiMarino
      Retirement – Ken Foelster
      Salary & Budget Oversight – Travis Hartley
      Social – Sal Colosi
      Special Education – Laine Rothe
      TEEA/PSEA Retired – Ken Foelster

      It is unacceptable that this information was kept from the public. We have to demand more from the current leadership. We deserve better.

  3. To me, this is a total DUHHHH moment. How can any sentient human expect to do the same experiment of putting people in close contact and get a different outcome? This includes precious sports conducted by teenagers. All sports should be shut down now until there are vaccines available and a high percentage of the community inoculated. Start thinking, be smart, stop making such decision by emotion. Teach your kids that this is something necessary for the greater good and reinforce this often, including the use of masks and social distancing that so many in our community who get together regularly have flaunted all summer. The virus has not gone away, despite what Trump want you to think.

    1. Concerned and disgusted,

      The issue is not about how sports parents should teach their children about the consequences of not socially distancing, wearing masks, washing their hands and self monitoring their health status.

      The issue is the lack of transparency and lack of information from our leaders——the Administration and the School Board—-about the number of infections on the sports teams.

      The Administration is quick to make decisions when the decisions benefit them by strengthening their power, lining their pockets and reinforcing their job security.

      When the decision affects the health and safety of students—-and in turn the community——-there is no information provided and the decision is slow played leaving citizens in the dark and at risk.

      Focus on electing leaders who understand how to lead rather than blaming parents who have no power to make decisions anyway.

  4. My child is a fall athelete; we were notified Wednesday that practice this week are cancelled due to “potential Covid exposure” and that if our child was exposed we would be contacted by the Chester County Health Dept. I understand this is policy – school will not notify individuals, the CCHD will. The school/coach were notified Tuesday that a player may have been exposed. We got the second note(above) on Thursday. We have NOT been told to quarantine and we have no firm information on how many, what teams, etc. The teams have been working out in smaller cohorts so it should be easier to track exposure. I guess no news is good news? It’s all a bit confusing.

    1. I appreciate your comment and the timelines. And yes, I agree with you that it is “all a bit confusing”. I just saw that someone commented on Facebook about my post, stating that it was two girls on one team. Who really knows the facts? Personally, I think that (at a minimum) parents need to know which sports teams are experiencing positive covid results. I truly get that the students (especially seniors!) want the sports programs to go forward but parents need facts to make informed decisions.

      “Whisper down the lane” is not the way for information to be delivered.

  5. These teens did not get covid from playing sports outdoors. TESD is taking a conservative approach and they deserve more support instead of unfounded assumptions. I know of many kids/teens that have been playing sports “outdoors” all summer – wearing masks, temp checks, surveys completed by parents, etc. It is not being spread through outdoor sports.

  6. Yes, the administration is not transparent. Yes the administration and Board was late in providing a plan. Yes, Yes, Yes. All of us in the community that pay attention to T/E have recognized this for years. Nothing has changed in 20 years since my children began school in T/E. My quite pointed statement is intended to get those in the T/E community to face reality and to make decisions for themselves. Does the risk go down for the foreseeable future to those who play football of being exposed to Covid 19 and getting sick? Do you really think that there is some magic umbrella covering and protecting potential T/E football players? There is only one option: cancel fall sports and even spring sports if there is not a demonstrated effective vaccine that has been administered to enough students and members of the community to provide the equivalent of herd immunity. Full Stop.

    1. You say:

      My quite pointed statement is intended to get those in the T/E community to face reality and to make decisions for themselves.

      People in the TE community have different attitudes, opinions and beliefs. You can’t control that. No one can. That’s why we need leadership. Leadership that practices open, honest and direct communication. The opposite of what we have now.

      And you say:

      There is only one option: cancel fall sports and even spring sports if there is not a demonstrated effective vaccine that has been administered to enough students and members of the community to provide the equivalent of herd immunity. Full Stop now.

      I agree that a decision needs to be made. This has nothing to do with parents “making decisions for themselves.” We need strong leaders to lead and make decisions that reflect the values and high standards we deserve and expect. The opposite of what we have now.

  7. The Central League on Friday became the latest high school league in the Philadelphia area to shut down fall sports because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    The Central League made the announcement on its Twitter feed, noting the organization was “taking its direction from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Chester and

  8. concerned and disgusted, Amen to all that you say. Cowards. Not allowing schools back in person for those who would like that and not allowing fall sports and other activities for our young people are selfish. Shame on you. Even if you believe positive cases mean anything, which I do not, They are going down and are primarily younger people. Don’t read the soundbites do some research there is no real risk.

  9. The Central League includes Lower Merion, Harriton, Conestoga, Garnet Valley, Haverford, Marple Newtown, Penncrest, Radnor, Ridley, Strath Haven, Upper Darby and Springfield (Delco) high schools.

  10. I find it interesting that support staff were receiving a TON of pressure from building principals to work virtually from their school buildings and all the sudden Wednesday morning that changed and everyone got emails to work virtually until the end of September. Our district knew about this before they sent that letter out Thursday and spent a few days doing damage control prior to emailing the coaches. I think it’s clear at this point that TE has no intention of contacting anyone exposed themselves, as they’ve said several times that the CCHD will take care of contact tracing. Absolutely ridiculous the way this district hides everything from their tax payers.

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