State College Area School District closing March 16-20 for coronavirus preparations

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — The State College Area School District will be closing schools for students for the week of March 16-20, the district said in a statement.

The district said the closure is to: “Protect the health and safety of our families, employees and community at large and to assess the post-spring break situation, protect immunosuppressed and otherwise at-risk students and employees from the possible arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the near future, and develop a remote learning plan and review alternative operational plans in case of a longer closure.”

Superintendent Bob O’Donnell sent the following letter to families Wednesday:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We have spent the past few weeks researching and monitoring the rapidly changing COVID-19 coronavirus health issue. As we negotiate this uncharted territory, we believe that the time has come for our district community to make an important decision.

All schools in the State College Area School District will not be in session for students from March 16 until March 20, 2020, but all buildings and district offices will be open.

Great care and research went into this decision; however, we regret the hardships this will cause for some of our families. Before choosing a course of action, we reviewed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and worked with the PA Department of Health, Centre Region Emergency Management, and the Integrated Health Planning Group. At this time, we believe that is the right step to take for the health and safety of our SCASD families, employees, and the community at large — especially to protect our students and employees who are immunosuppressed or at greater risk due to age and other reasons.

We will use this time to develop the following measures should we resume classes on Monday, March 23, or a longer closure becomes necessary:

● Identify immunosuppressed and other at-risk students and employees

● Finalize daily systematic approach to disinfect all schools and buses

● Develop flexible and remote learning options for all K-12 students

● Prepare for potential distribution of chromebooks to K-5 students

● Coordinate food service options for our c​hildren in need

This five-day period will consist of two instructional training days for faculty and staff and three days that will be rescheduled for students and made-up. In the coming days, we will communicate more information about Special Education and Student Services, including Counseling, Gifted, Nursing, and ESL.

At this time, athletics and extracurricular activities will proceed as planned. The SAT test scheduled for Saturday will continue as normal. However, because of the expected large number of test-takers, we will take extra precautions related to student health.

Moving forward, we’ll continue monitoring the situation weekly and proceed on a week-by-week basis. We will make a decision about the week of March 23-27 on Thursday, March 19. Regardless, our goal is to resume instruction on March 23, whether that’s in our classrooms or via remote learning.

Because of the magnitude of this decision, I ask that you please reach out to your ​building principal​ with individual requests and needs. They will serve as the first contacts for funneling communications throughout the district.

Though this is an uncertain time, I know we’ll pull together as a community. Thank you for your understanding as we work through this difficult period.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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