DASD School Board meets, discusses COVID-19 by Glenn Schuckers

Much of the regular school board meeting on November 19 dealt with how the school has been and will be dealing with the Coronavirus in both the schools and the community. Superintendent Wendy Benton gave the Board an update on the current status of the virus as it affects the six buildings in the District.

Benton pointed out that she has been in contact with both the PA Department of Health and the Department of Education in regard to where the schools  and community stand. That contact shows that both Clearfield and Jefferson Counties have seen increasing numbers of people either with the virus or in contact with persons who have had contact. As of the date of the meeting, 146 persons in the District have been quarantined, and at present all schools except Wasson, Juniata and C.G. Johnson have at least one case.

She went on to stress that as a District, everyone has been doing and will continue to exhaust all options to keep the schools open. Earlier in the year when the virus outbreak first appeared, the schools were closed and all students entered distance learning with classes taught on computers over the internet. Earlier this fall the schools developed a plan to allow students to begin to return to in-person learning by being divided in to two “teams” with each team attending in-person classes every other day. The third plan allowed all students who wanted to to return to in-person classes to attend full-time. That plan has been in effect for the past few weeks.

A result of the survey of people in the community shows that the highest incidence of infection occurs in the 25-39 age group with lower infection rates in both those older and younger. In fact the youngest age groups have infection rates so low that they do not register as a percentage of the population.

Benton added that while the schools are closed from Nov. 26 to the end of the  month for the planned Thanksgiving vacation, there will be no school activities, no sports events and no one will be allowed into any of the buildings except those employees who will conduct a deep cleaning of them.

She went on to say that if the community spread  continues to increase and spread into the schools, they will have no choice  but to return to the hybrid plan which  reduces the number of students in the building by half, and if that does not contain the spread the District may be forced to look at a  return to total distance learning.

Benton said the only way to keep the schools open is through a total community effort with people staying home, continuing to wear masks in public and practicing social distancing. She emphasized that keeping the children in school will take a total community effort, and said again that every effort will be made to keep the schools open.

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