State-mandated school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic
At 2:59 p.m. March 13, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an announcement that all schools in Pennsylvania would be closed for 10 business days beginning Monday, March 16. That was later extended to April 6, and then until further notice and for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. This included the physical gathering of all school-related activities and events, and athletics. His administration continues to work with Bellefonte Area School District as it monitors COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, in the commonwealth. Although no school will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hour requirements, the district has created and will continue to update its distance learning program for K-12 students as required by the state.
Please see the district's Q&A that aims to answer as many questions as possible regarding the school closure and what that means for the future of the district and its stakeholders. We are working to provide as much information as possible, as it becomes available: District Q&A
We are planning on how to best educate our students if schools need to be closed for an extended period beyond the 2019-20 school year by complying with Free Appropriate Public Education, and following guidance from the state Department of Education. We understand not every family has access to reliable broadband internet services and some students require additional services. On March 30, an enrichment and review plan was rolled out with a menu of online and offline learning options. On April 27, that was enhanced to planned learning as required by the state. See details, here: Learning for K-12 students
Facilities use protocol
As all schools in Pennsylvania are closed through the end of the 2020-21 school year, so too are practices and athletic events suspended. All district buildings and grounds are closed to the public during this time, unless otherwise noted.
We have also taken steps to reduce the chance of acquiring and transmitting the virus by canceling travel to all conferences and workshops for our staff until further notice. We will review each field trip on a case-by-case basis once school resumes. Additionally, we encourage that families with known travel plans into areas with identified cases upon their return from such trips, self-quarantine for 14 days and follow the CDC guidelines for self-monitoring.
We continue to promote healthy habits to include regular hand washing for all students and staff. Handwashing should happen many times daily and before and after touching surfaces that are frequently touched by others. The CDC recommends avoiding unnecessary travel especially into known areas where the virus exists. Individuals who are sick should stay home and remain home until they are symptom-free. If you have symptoms such as fever of more than 100 degrees, difficulty breathing and more, please call your healthcare provider for guidance.
Please visit this link for more suggested tips to help avoid sickness: Healthy habits
*Photo provided by the Office of the Governor
The populations that are at the greatest risk of this virus are the elderly and those in poor health, especially those with poor respiratory health. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, COVID-19 is more serious than the annual flu but less serious than the Spanish flu of 1918. We will be educating our students on what they can do to protect others close to them who are elderly or suffer from any level of immunodeficiency. We also encourage the community to visit the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for guidance on all matters.
After the governor's closure is lifted, should we again need to temporarily close schools beyond the 2019-20 school year, we will look to the following:
- we are unable to safely operate our programming due to staffing limitations
- we have a confirmed person with COVID-19 within the building
- we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 that has direct contact with individuals who are within our buildings
- we are advised or ordered to do so by a state or federal agency with said authority
These decisions will be based on facts in consultation with local health officials. Parents should prepare in advance for continued unanticipated childcare responsibilities. We are aware of the seriousness of this matter, and continue to seek and distribute new information in a timely manner. We thank you for your patience and support as we educate your children, while also assuring they have a safe environment in which to do so.