October 21, 2021
The District was notified of three (3) positive cases of COVID-19: two (2) at Ben Franklin Elementary School and two (1) at Indiana Area Junior High School. All three positive cases will be attributed to the District’s 14-day rolling average. The Department of Health (DOH) worked with the school nurses and administration and concluded that four (4) additional students/staff are required to be quarantined. Any questions regarding quarantines should be directed to the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).
Many of you, including myself, are concerned about the number of quarantines with which the District is continually faced. While the numbers have decreased over the past week, we still face some challenges. I wrote to the DOH to inquire about their procedures and to seek clarity surrounding 6 feet vs. 3 feet of social distancing when determining isolation/quarantines. They responded that: “definition of a “close contact” is someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. This applies in all settings with one exception – the K–12 indoor classroom setting or a structured outdoor setting where mask use can be observed (i.e., holding class outdoors with educator supervision). In those settings, the close contact definition excludes students who were between 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.”
Thus, it is because of the DOH rules and orders that we are seeing a higher number of students being quarantined, as the 3 feet rule only applies in the classroom setting and structured outdoor activities, nowhere else, including on the bus. As a District, we have expressed our concerns over the confusion, hardship, and questions that their procedures are causing schools. We have been told that they cannot change it at this time. Parents who are able may want to consider transporting their children to school if they are concerned about being subject to quarantine due to the rule being less than 6 feet apart on the bus, but are certainly not required to do so.
Also, it is important to note that the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) informed all school districts on October 1, 2021, that they are no longer allowed to accept antibodies testing/results as an exemption to the quarantine protocols. Click here to view the health alert that explains the decision made by the DOH. This was not a decision made by the District.
Any questions and/or concerns with this decision should be directly addressed to the DOH at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).
In the case that your child does have to be quarantined, the district has worked hard to put systems in place to continue their education from home whenever possible. At the elementary levels (K-5), students will be assigned to a class that follows a daily schedule of face-to-face, virtual classes for Reading, English Language Arts, and Mathematics via Google Meet. At the Junior High, Teachers are available to teach the core lessons in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies in most cases, or will provide asynchronous (work when you can) lessons online through their Google Classrooms. At the Senior High School, where students are more capable learners and schedules are much more complex, all course work will be assigned asynchronously through each teacher’s Google Classroom with virtual support meetings scheduled as needed between 2:40 and 3:10PM or other time the teacher is available. If you or your student need more specific information regarding any of the educational supports during quarantine, please contact your student’s principal.
I want to personally thank you all again for your patience, understanding, and cooperation as we work through this pandemic. As I mentioned before, it is times like this when community matters most, and I am proud to serve this community. As always, I invite you to please visit our COVID dashboard at www.iasd.cc for up-to-date information relating to the number of positive cases and quarantines in the District. Additionally, you will find a copy of all the letters we have sent throughout the year on this page as well as some additional resources and information from the Department of Health and/or Department of Education.
Mr. Michael J. Vuckovich