Dear BASD Families:
Many of our families have seen first hand how disruptive quick school closures can be for our students, staff and the community we serve. Connoquenssing Elementary School, McQuistion Elementary School, Center Avenue Community School, the Middle School and the Intermediate High School all had to quickly shift to remote learning this week, per the state’s most recent mandates for schools. Several other schools are only 1-2 positive COVID-19 cases away from having to do the same.
Once a school reaches the positive COVID-19 case count threshold over a 14 day period, the school must be thoroughly cleaned and remain vacant for three days. When students return to school, the COVID-19 cases for that building resets to zero and the 14 day clock begins again.
I asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to consider allowing us to voluntarily close for one day each week to reset our COVID-19 count. The plan would be to voluntarily close our buildings and shift to remote instruction on either a Monday or Friday so that the day is contiguous with the weekend for a total of 3 days. We would complete all of the required closure cleaning each week. The state has approved this request.
This strategy may be advantageous as it could allow for a more consistent operation of our school and therefore, a more stable schedule for everyone. However, please note this is a strategy to hopefully offer a consistent schedule and maximize in-person instruction. It is not a guarantee that our schools would always be able to remain open on the other four days.
Since the next two Mondays are in-service/Act 80 days and our students do not have school, we have the opportunity to close our buildings during the contiguous weekend and therefore reset our case count for each of the upcoming two weeks. These two weeks will be a trial run for this strategy to determine if it does in fact have the desired effect on our schools.
If this strategy works, we will consider scheduling one day a week as a remote learning day moving forward. It’s likely the closure/remote day would be Friday each week due to the alternating student cohorts at the secondary schools.
For now, we are going to give it a try for the next two weeks. We will keep you updated if we decide to move forward with this strategy.
In the meantime, I’d like to thank all of our parents, students, teachers and staff members for their patience and flexibility as our schools quickly shifted to remote instruction. Your commitment to helping our students continue learning in any setting is sincerely appreciated.
Brian J. White
Butler Area School District