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Purchase Line School District

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COVID-19 Notification, District Closure - 11/20/2020

November 20, 2020

Dear PLSD Families:

At a special school board meeting held yesterday, November 19, 2020, the difficult decision was made to have all​ Pre-K thru 12th grade students move to full remote learning on Monday, November 23, and lasting through Friday, December 4, 2020​. ​Students will return to in-school instruction on December 7​. The phased reopening to in-person instruction has been delayed and will resume on December 7 for grades 5, 8, and 11 and on December 14 for grades 6, 9, and 10. Additionally, please be aware that all activities and extracurricular activities are being suspended from November 20 through December 6. All activities will resume on December 7. We do not take this decision lightly and know it will present increased challenges on many of our families. There was no one indicator used to make this decision but rather multiple variables that included:

● School Related Data ○ Elementary School There are two positive student cases at the elementary school in addition to four students awaiting testing results. The elementary school would have transitioned to remote learning based on the data.

○ High School There is one positive student case and one positive staff case. Additionally, there are two additional students and an adult awaiting the results of their tests.

○ Quarantines/Trends We currently have 45 quarantines. This upward trajectory in cases and quarantines was another consideration in our decision making.

● County Data ○ For the past three weeks, Indiana County has been in the substantial designation. Each week the Pennsylvania Department of Health has made the recommendation for county schools to be in virtual learning. Additionally, the rate of positive cases and percent of positive cases have been increasing each week. Further, roughly 60% is being attributed to community spread, meaning not identified to a single event, business, or agency.

● Hospital Capacity Surge ○ This was a major variable in the decision making process. All hospitals that serve our community are at or approaching capacity. The stress on the hospital systems impacts not only their employees but puts the care of people who need medical attention at risk.

● Timing/Upcoming Thanksgiving Break ○ We had 6 days of in-school instruction planned because of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday (November 23-25 and December 1-3). That turns into 17 days without students in the building to help mitigate the spread. We are hopeful that these 17 days will result in our active cases being removed and the district returning to no known active cases on December 7, 2020.

This action is being taken in an effort to avoid exposing students, families, and our employees. Furthermore, by having a proactive response to the above indicators, we hope to eliminate the potential for spread, as well as to avoid a longer and more disruptive closure. This decision was not made lightly, but the health and safety of our students and staff will always remain the highest priority as these decisions are made.
During the closure, students will shift to full remote learning. Teachers will be in communication with their students and will be available every day if you need to contact them.
We​ are following sound protocols aligned with expert health guidance to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the health of our students and staff. We also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of wearing masks, staying six feet apart from others, regularly washing your hands, and staying home when sick. Ultimately, our collective actions as a community will play a big role in determining our future.

All members of our school community are encouraged to continue monitoring for the symptoms of COVID-19 and communicate any concerns with your health care professional and school nurse.

We are closely monitoring this situation and will provide you with updates if any further steps are necessary. In the meantime, I want to thank everyone for following the protocols we have established to minimize risks this school year.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

S h a w n L. F o r d 

Shawn L. Ford, Superintendent