Superintendent Shawn L. Ford Issues Statement on Incident at
Purchase Line Jr.Sr. High School Today, September 23, 2021
There was an altercation between a student and teacher at Purchase Line Jr. Sr. High School today, September 23, 2021. I would like to thank the Indiana Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance in this matter. I would also like to commend our employees for following Safety and Security protocols to ensure that our students and staff were safe during the incident. The district will follow all disciplinary procedures and work in collaboration with law enforcement moving forward. The safety of our students has always been the district’s number one priority.
September 8, 2021
Dear PLSD Families:
This letter is a follow up to the correspondence I sent to the community last Friday, September 3, 2021. As a reminder, the Purchase Line School District is required to comply with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s legal order. We are asking for your help and compliance at this time in order to keep our schools open. As I write this letter, we currently have 7 confirmed cases and approximately 69 quarantines.
The district has received guidance from both our solicitor and PDE that reiterates the medical exemption option for those who qualify. We at PLSD are not medical professionals and in accordance with our existing procedures, we will require a medical exemption form to be completed by a licensed health care provider and placed on file. By having a signed medical exemption form for those who qualify, the District meets our obligation with regard to enforcement of the order.
We realize that informing you of the state’s requirements last Friday going into a holiday weekend was not ideal for anyone. As such, we will still require the health exemption form but will allow those families additional time to secure the proper signature and exemptions. For those families who need additional time to get the form completed by their licensed health care provider, we will require you to complete a “Student Face Masks/Coverings - Exemption Request” and submit it to your child’s principal or school nurse. Families will need to turn in the proper medical exemption form as soon as possible. Again, this is only a request form to give families the time they need to get the appropriate medical exemption.
Additionally, at this point in time, the District is not able to accept the open mask exemption form from Dr. Yeager or Heritage Family Health, since that particular exemption form can be found as an open blanket online document. That form does not in any way state that your child has been seen by this doctor or is under this facility’s care. As far as an exemption, all medical excuses will be reviewed individually, which is consistent with other policies requiring medical documentation. Any licensed medical provider who completes the form has the fiduciary responsibility to sign the exemption in good faith and in accordance with the scope and liability of their professional certificate. The District follows the standard 504 procedures and protocols. Your listed primary care physician or another healthcare professional who is able to examine your child would be a good start for an exemption script. We recognize that this entire situation is incredibly frustrating, and we appreciate your understanding. Please know that we are doing all we can to work with our families in these turbulent times.
Failure to comply with the mandate places the District in a very difficult position and opens the District to consequences up to and including our insurance coverage being dropped by our provider for failure to comply with the legal order. According to the FAQ that the Pennsylvania Department of Education released: “School officials who fail to adhere to the order could lose the protection of sovereign immunity and may personally face lawsuits from those who may be affected by any official’s attempt to ignore the order. Failing to implement or follow the control measures may expose individuals to personal liability under 42 Pa.C.S § 8550 (relating to willful misconduct), as well as other remedies as provided by law. Failure to implement and follow the control measures under the Order also subjects a person to the penalty provisions of the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.”
As stated previously, I can empathize with many of our staff, students, and families over the frustration that comes along with changes to regulations, mandates, and guidance. As a District, we remain committed to in-person instruction, all the while providing for a safe learning environment for our students and staff. As a community, I again ask for your help and cooperation in compliance with this order as we attempt to stay open.
Shawn L. Ford
September 2, 2021
Dear Purchase Line Families:
I write this letter, knowing that the mask mandate is one of the most controversial issues facing public school education. Frankly, I have agonized trying to find the right words to say, knowing many within the district share strong and diverse opinions regarding Covid-19. From families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19, to a large majority that believe masking is immoral and a family decision, and everything in
between. My intention is to communicate and provide clarity to each and every one of you concerning the information we currently have on the mask mandate.
This disclaimer before discussing the mask mandate and the conditions in which we are working can change at a moment’s notice. This is a very fluid situation and I will be sure to communicate with you over the weekend, if the District receives any additional information from the Department of Health and/or Department of Education regarding the order.
On August 31, 2021, Acting Secretary of Health, Alison V. Beam, published the Order of the Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Directing Face Coverings in School Entities effective September 7, 2021. The Order overrides our local board-approved ARP ESSER Health and Safety Plan recently passed at the board meeting on August 9, 2021.
● Order of the Acting Secretary of Health, Alison V. Beam
The Purchase Line School District must comply with this legal directive from the Secretary of Health pursuant to Pennsylvania Law section 5 of the Disease Prevention and Control Law. Effective Tuesday, September 7, 2021, all Purchase Line students, staff, and visitors are required to wear a mask or face shield as outlined in the August 31, 2021 Order. Here are some points and implications concerning the mask mandate:
● The mask requirement applies to only indoors.
● It doesn’t apply to student activities such as athletics or band participating in practices or competitions indoors or outdoors.
● There are exemptions included in the order. Any parent applying an exemption to their child should send the school principal medical documentation from a healthcare professional.
○ Section 3.B - If wearing a face covering would either cause a medical
condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that
impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability.
● There are new procedures for quarantining students. For example, if a student tests positive for COVID and is wearing a mask and a student who is identified as a close contact is wearing a mask, the student who is the close contact does not have to be quarantined. With students all wearing masks, there shouldn’t be as many quarantines according to the current rules in place.
As stated above, I can empathize with many of our staff, students, and families over the frustration that comes along with changes to regulations, mandates, and guidance. As a District, we remain committed to in-person instruction, all the while providing for a safe
learning environment for our students and staff. As a community, I ask that we cooperatively stay focused on our core mission of preparing students for their future. This is a great opportunity for us to model the participating and thriving competencies of our Portrait of a Red Dragon; teaching skills such as perseverance. We know our community is strong, and we can only be Stronger Together.
Thank you so very much for your support and all you do for our students. We have had a great opening to the school year, and our focus will remain on the education of the students we serve.
Shawn L. Ford
“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” - Walter Elliot
August 20, 2021
Dear PLSD Staff, Parents, Guardians, and Community:
It’s hard to believe that summer break has come and gone already. We now look forward to the new and exciting 2021-2022 school year. It’s going to be an incredible year of learning and opportunity! Our team has been working diligently and extremely hard in preparing our school facilities for a safe return to in-person instruction. The purpose of this letter is to provide everyone with an update regarding the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. We are excited to return to a full-day, five days per week, in-person program beginning on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. As required in the American Rescue Plan, PLSD has established A Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services, hereinafter referred to as our Health and Safety Plan. Our overarching main goal is to have five days of in-person learning each week, and all current decisions and future decisions will be focused on achieving this goal.
Health and Safety Plan
On August 9, 2021, the Purchase Line School District’s Board of School Directors approved an updated Health and Safety Plan for the 2021-2022 school year. This plan is intended to be a fluid document that will be updated in response to changing conditions and/or local, regional, state, or federal guidance. To ensure the effectiveness of the plan, it will continue to be a standing agenda item at monthly board meetings, at which time the Board can revisit and revise the plan based upon the guidance of local and state health officials. We are committed to mitigation efforts that will minimize the spread of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant. These are the points for families to know as we continue to plan for the start of the 2021-2022 school year:
Per the CDC’s order on wearing masks on public transportation, regardless of the school mask policy, masks are required to be worn by passengers and drivers on school buses.
Masking will be optional on school grounds when students return to school on August 25, 2021. However, those individuals who are not vaccinated, under the age of 12, or who are at a high risk, are not required, but should continue to wear masks as per CDC guidance.
We will strive for 3-6 feet of separation with students and 6 feet for adults to the maximum extent feasible.
Contact tracing will continue to identify and quarantine close contacts when positive COVID cases are identified. The District will continue to consult with the Pennsylvania Department of Health about contact tracing. If a person is required to quarantine, he/she is not allowed to attend school or school activities.
Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms but known exposure: Such individuals should get tested 3-5 days after known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until they receive a negative test result. Fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work/school following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, if they follow the testing and masking recommendation above.
The District’s Health and Safety plan can change quickly. We will monitor local data as well as guidance and mandates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, CDC, and other local, state, and federal agencies. The plan will be amended as necessary to meet our goal of maintaining five days of in-person learning as well as providing the safest environment for our students and staff.
Educational Reopening Plan 2021-2022
Purchase Line Elementary School and Purchase Line Junior/Senior High School offer rigorous curriculums, taught in-person, that are aligned to the Pennsylvania Core Content Standards.
The Purchase Line School District also offers enrollment in the Red Dragon Cyber Academy (RDCA) to students in grades K-12 seeking an asynchronous learning environment that takes into account the need for more flexibility in continuing their path to high school graduation.
Students may enroll in the RDCA at the beginning of the school year and then on a NINE-WEEK CYCLE after that, with the requirement of a two-week prior notice given to the school guidance office.
Students who are not maintaining adequate academic progress in the RDCA may be required to return to in-person instruction at Purchase Line Elementary School or Purchase Line Junior/Senior High School for their education.
PLSD will work with students who are required to be quarantined as a result of COVID-19 to provide remote learning. Let me emphasize, remote learning options will only be used for students in quarantine situations.
District Communication Regarding Positive COVID-19 Cases
Close contacts will be notified individually.
District case numbers will be reported weekly through the COVID-19 dashboard which can be found on the PLSD website.
No mass communication will be sent out regarding positive cases.
Will Schools Have to Close this Year?
A maximum 14-day suspension of in-school learning may be needed as directed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health if the following criteria are met:
25 cases reported in a 14-day window in the elementary school or junior/senior high school.
3 simultaneous classroom and/or core group outbreaks within a 14-day period.
We may have to consider short-term closures for staffing shortages, student quarantines that become disruptive, or monitoring close cases.
I look forward to welcoming students and staff back to the 2021-2022 school year. I am confident that despite any challenges we may face, this will be a successful school year. As I have stated repeatedly, we appreciate your support, flexibility, and patience as we continue to navigate these challenging times.
Shawn L. Ford
Purchase Line Schools will be operating on a Remote Learning Day Tuesday, January 26, 2021. No In School Instruction for students. Teachers will be in contact with your assignments. Please check the online platforms and student email.
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