I just finished the webinar that was hosted by various State-level officials regarding the current status of Coronavirus in PA. The main themes were as follows:
1. At this point, only Montgomery County has been directed to close all schools.
2. Local school districts reserve the right to close as a matter of public safety for cleaning purposes, building preparedness, or other justifiable reasons. Harrisburg will do its best to provide support and consider exception waivers for local district that decide to close.
3. Harrisburg is well aware that State-mandated testing (PSSA, Keystone, etc) may be affected. PDE is poised to intervene, if needed.
4. Recommended actions to help contain/mitigate spread include: reviewing closure plans and policies; cancelling/postponing public events (including after-school activities); meeting with labor groups to plan for workplace disruptions; and canceling all travel that is nonessential (field trips, conferences, etc.)
I am proud to report that our Penn Hills School District team is deeply immersed in planning for and responding to various What If scenarios:
1. K-12 lessons have been prepared by our teaching staff. (PHHS students will be following a mostly online learning format, while Linton and PHE students will be working according to a more traditional format that includes pen and paper lessons. Those lessons will be handed out to students at dismissal today and should be kept at home for now. Extra copies will remain on site at the District and will be disseminated as needed to those who are absent today or who may lose their packets.) *These supplemental assignments only need to be completed if school is canceled.
2. Massive cleaning will occur after dismissal today in all District buildings and will continue through Monday morning when students and staff report back to school. Enhanced cleaning efforts have been in place and will continue beyond this weekend's large-scale initiative. We also want to remind all staff and students to continue practicing good hygiene while at school and at home. That includes frequent handwashing with soap (or alcohol-based sanitizer), maintaining reasonable physical space, practicing cough etiquette (sneezing into the elbow and washing hands immediately after), and staying home when you don't feel well.
In summary, at this point, there is no interruption to daily school operations in the Penn Hills School District, other than there will be no after-school or weekend activities until further notice. We will continue to provide updates as they become available and certainly will lift this ban when we feel it is appropriate.
PDE and other Harrisburg officials have asked that we try to maintain calm, continue to evaluate preparedness for a potential, multi-day school closure in the future, and share updates among all stakeholders as they are received during this emerging situation. We thank Everyone in advance for your support and cooperation.