RE: Thanksgiving Thoughts and COVID Impacts
November 24, 2020
Dear Clearfield Area School Community,
I want to start this letter a little different than our other notifications by sharing some of what I am thankful for at this point in our school year. First and foremost, I appreciate everyone’s patience and honesty with us as we work through these times. This has not been a typical year in any part of the imagination, but each of you continue helping to find ways to keep us moving forward. From our families who have been asked to take on a larger role with their child’s education and to also share health information with our school nurses when needed, you have been outstanding. Each and every one of our staff have been trying to make a difference in what they do to help our community. It may have been the cafeteria worker this summer who kept working so that we could put meals out for children or the custodians who have not flinched at the task ahead and keep our schools clean and ready to go. To each and every one of our teachers and support staff who have had to reimagine what their classrooms look like, or how their job gets done, so that we can continue to make our efforts, thank you. Lastly, I am most thankful for our students. This is an experience we wish you didn’t have to go through as our children. We wish it could be carefree and fun. We know each of you carry many questions with you that we cannot answer, we can only try to guide you through this time as we learn it ourselves. Everyone in our greater school community has had to step up in a different way and for that I am so thankful.
Where are we headed as we move forward? We are going to continue to implement our plan to the best of our ability and to the extent that the pandemic allows us.
Yesterday new guidelines were revised and released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of Education expecting schools to monitor their positive cases based on a rolling fourteen day process. Then based on the county’s designation, ours is currently “Substantial”, decisions are then made about the format of school. With a school population between 500-900 students in each building, we would be following the “Medium” school size designation. Our actual enrollment in each school is larger, but with our A/B rotation we are choosing to use the medium designation to exercise more caution. Therefore, if we have 1-3 active cases at a time we can continue on as we have been, 4-6 cases requires a switch to a virtual format for 3-7 days, and 7 cases or more would require a 14 day switch to virtual. Each time we make a change to virtual for health reasons we will not be permitting any extracurricular activities.
Currently the Junior/Senior HS is completing their first experience with a switch to virtual. Our plan is to return to school on Wednesday, December 2nd, which is a “B” day. We are keeping our rotation of A/B consistent between the schools. From the cases we are currently aware of we will only have one positive case during the 14 day look back when we come back to school on December 2nd.
We are made aware of cases usually by the individuals contacting us as the Department of Health is struggling with the case load the state is experiencing. So it is critical for you to share this information with us. Additionally, the contact tracing is primarily being handled by the school staff. We now notify the families and review the guidance as we know it. If you have not heard from one of the school nurses when a case is announced, it would mean neither your child, nor you have been identified as a close contact through the school.
The elementary school currently has two positive cases in its 14 day process, both were shared with the school yesterday. Contact tracing was completed in the morning for both individuals. One was a student and the other was a contracted employee. At this time with two cases, school would also be resuming on Wednesday, December 2nd. If, or when, the elementary would need to move to a virtual platform we will try to provide as much notice as possible as we know the needs for elementary children and child care are harder to work through than they are for our secondary students.
Beyond the positive cases, the schools are also working with many of you that may have a quarantine need due to being a close contact of someone. Our staff is not immune to these needs and at any given time we have a number of students and staff who may be in quarantine. While to date this has been manageable, we could, based on the number of staff quarantined, or the role they hold in our school, cause a need to be virtual as well.
Parents please continue to watch for updates from your teachers and principals as we move through this time and process. If you have any changes in your contact information, please notify the school so that if we need to be reaching out we have the right contact information for you.
As you are probably aware there are also new travel restrictions and other items that the state of Pennsylvania implanted in recent days. Please be cautious of what you chose to do and how it could impact your family and loved ones.
To conclude, I cannot reiterate enough how challenging we know these times are for so many in our community. While we have much to be thankful for, we also know the needs and hurt are there for so many as well. In that sense please continue to lift each other up and exercise patience and compassion with one another as we continue to move forward.
With Solemn Thanks,
Terry W. Struble, Superintendent
Reference link to PDE website with revised guidance: