3/18/2020

Dear Parents & International Students,

Greetings from Lancaster Mennonite School!  I know that you are eager for news about your students, as you hear updates from the United States (U.S.) and are concerned for your child’s safety and health. You should have received an email from LM Superintendent, Dr. Tieszen on Friday explaining that we were asked by the Governor of Pennsylvania to close school for two weeks.

Class Instruction & Assignments

We are moving forward with Flexible Instruction Days (FIDs) where the students can log-in online into Schoology software to get assignments and post homework. All of our announcements have been (and will continue to be) sent directly to you and posted on our main website at https://www.lancastermennonite.org/about/news/.

It is important that students take time each day to check Schoology for assignments and turn in work to teachers by email so that they do not fall behind or jeopardize their visa status. Turning in their assignments each day is proof of attendance in class.  If students are not turning in work, we are required to report to the government that they are not following SEVP policy, which could terminate their I-20.

Options for Students
Last week the principal, academic counselor, and I met with all of our international students to go over options and plans moving forward, and to assure them that we continue to monitor the situation and are working to keep all LM students safe.

In our discussion I gave the students the following options as they make decisions about travel home:

  • If you request, they can go home now, but there are several issues with travel, as they will not be able to return to finish the semester.  SEVP only permits a maximum of 5 months out of the U.S. before an I-20 is terminated, so any student leaving now may need to get a new I-20 issued and activated to return in August.  They will not receive credit for the classes they are currently taking, as the semester has not reached the mid-point yet. Our Flexible Instruction Days (FIDs) online will end as soon as we are able to resume classes on campus, so they may not be able to finish their courses online from home. We  are encouraging students to talk to their LM academic counselor to process ramifications to credits and graduation timing before making a decision on when to fly home.
  • Wait until the end of the semester on May 29th and return home for summer break.  There may be more documentation required to return back to the U.S. in August, and I will update them throughout the summer as more information becomes available.
  • LM is also willing to work with students who would like to stay in the U.S. this summer to insure no issues with returning to school in August. We have had several of our agencies reach out to the school with available ESL, leadership, and college preparation courses for the summer so that students can remain in the U.S. if they do not want to take a chance with returning home.

We discussed with students that the safest choice at this point is to stay here and continue with the semester.

To our knowledge, the Lancaster area has not yet had any confirmed cases of COVID-19.  We continue to monitor CDC and government guidelines. If the situation changes and we need to extend the school closure for more than two weeks, we will contact you with any changes to instruction or recommendations to return home before the end of the semester.

Boarding Students
If you have a student still boarding on campus in Millstream Hall, know that we are still providing activities, food, and supervision of them while ensuring their health and safety. See the Residence Hall Newsletter with their updates that was sent out from the Director of the Residence Hall, Brandon Riehl, last Friday – click here for website link.

Conclusion
As a school we are continuing to make the best decisions we can with the information currently at hand. We appreciate your ongoing patience and flexibility as we modify plans and do our best to keep students, families, and our community safe. We will continue to keep you updated as more information and decisions are available.

Please email, call, or message me with any concerns.

Your ongoing prayers are appreciated!

Blessings,

Christy Horst
Director of Admissions