CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District and others in the surrounding area will remain open despite the Coronavirus outbreak across the United States and Pennsylvania, according to Superintendent Terry Struble.
In a letter to school families and staff Wednesday, Struble explained the rationale for county school districts, which included Clearfield, Moshannon Valley, West Branch, Philipsburg-Osceola and Curwensville, to remain open.
He also detailed the steps being taken by the districts to protect the health and welfare of their students, staff and families.
Struble said while several universities in the region, like Penn State University, may consider or have already made alterations to their semester schedule and instruction, there’s a “significant difference” between a university and K-12 setting.
“Most obvious is the sheer size of a campus in terms of student population,” he said, “which lends itself to increased risk. At Penn State University, for example, [there’s] over 30,000 students living, studying and socializing.
“… And [there was] the opportunity for more global interactions among their students and staff based upon their recent spring break … this is not the case for the Clearfield County school districts.”
Struble continued, saying that: “comparatively, our student population is small, and we are somewhat more isolated – geographically. Fortunately, this is to our advantage.”
He said numerous efforts are in place in area schools to prevent and or decrease the spread of the virus. He said every school has a nurse who continually observes and monitors the health status of all students and staff.
“Our trained medical professionals are instructed to remain diligent,” he said, “in terms of sending home students who show signs of illness and to be in communication with those families.”
“Custodial staff in every building are also working hard at making sure the facilities are clean and that the common surfaces are sanitized on a daily basis,” Struble added.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera issued a notification to school districts concerning the potential impact COVID-19 could have on the school calendar and attendance.
“While instructional time and assessments are important state and federal requirements, as you continue to work with your local health and emergency officials to review and revise your pandemic plans, the primary goal of any plan should be preserving the health and safety of your students and staff,” said Rivera.
He said school districts should consider either re-purposing built-in snow days and Act 80 days or extending the school calendar if instructional time is impacted by the viral outbreak.
Struble said all students, families and staff are being urged to keep plans flexible through June. He said while the district doesn’t have plans to close yet, if it were required to – following guidance from PDE, it would utilize days over Easter break and add days up to June 30, if needed.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and can guarantee that all decisions regarding the possible closing of schools will be made with the best interest of students and staff in mind,” he said.
“We are taking direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania Department of Education, and can assure you that our first priority is to maintain the safety and well-being of all students and staff.”
Struble said the district will keep members of its school community up to date as information becomes available.