State-mandated school closure due to COVID-19
At 2:59 p.m. Friday March 13, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an announcement that all schools in Pennsylvania will be closed for 10 business days beginning Monday, March 16. That was later extended to April 6. His administration will be working with Bellefonte Area School District as it continues to monitor COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, within the commonwealth. Although no school will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hour requirements, the district is working diligently to create a weekly educational plan for students. Again, as we learn more, we will share our next steps with you.
Please see the district's Q&A that aims to answer as much 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. Please also note there is much unknown information and much that is also subject to change frequently: Q&A
We are planning on how to best educate our students if schools need to be closed for an extended period. We understand not every family has access to reliable broadband internet services and some students require additional services. We are looking for ways to meet learning needs should our closure be extended. We are also looking to PDE for additional guidance. Starting March 30, an enrichment and review continuity of education plan will be rolled out. See details, here: Continuity of Education
Facilities use protocol
As all schools in Pennsylvania are closed, so too are practices and athletic events suspended. Again, once we move past this critical period in time we will look to see if there is anything that can be rescheduled.
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 (fever of more than 100 degrees, difficulty breathing and more.), please call your health care provider for guidance.
Please visit this link for more suggested tips to help avoid sickness: Healthy habits
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.
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 loved ones at home who are either elderly or suffer from any level of immunodeficiency. We also encourage you to visit the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for guidance on all matters.
*Photo provided by the Office of the Governor
After the governor's closure is lifted, should we again need to temporarily close schools, 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.
To see what agencies this impacts and its effect, visit this link: The impact
*Bellefonte Area School District also wants to thank the community for its patience and support as we navigate through this global health issue regarding novel coronavirus. We've had many offers to help, as well as many people reaching out to voice concerns. The insight and understanding has been beneficial during a period of time where what we know, along with the directives we receive, changes rapidly. We continue to strive to communicate new information as quickly as we can, as we receive it.