QCSD, Bucks districts, closing through March 29

QCSD, all Bucks districts, closing through March 29
Posted on 03/13/2020

Good afternoon!

At 11:45 this morning, the Bucks County Commissioners ordered a Declaration of Disaster Emergency and the activation of the county’s Emergency Management Center for support and to respond and coordinate efforts with local municipalities and other partners.

In close coordination with the superintendents of ALL Bucks County school districts, the Executive Director of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, the Director of the Bucks County Health Department, the Director of Bucks County Emergency Management Services, and the Bucks County Commissioners, all Bucks County public schools will be closed effective at 6 p.m. today through Sunday, March 29. This period of closure may be extended, based on any number of rapidly changing variables.

It is possible that executive orders from either the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the United States federal government will further expand upon or define this period of closure. At this time, this decision has not yet been officially mandated by either state or federal government authorities. This decision has, however, been fully discussed at length with all school district leaders and the appropriate county government officials. We are not waiting!

This closure no doubt raises many more questions for you than answers. The district will work in full cooperation with local, state, and federal authorities to compile information and resources that speak to the closure and its impact on the community. To be clear, the purpose of our closure is to reduce the possibility of community spread and foster social distancing. In other words, please keep your child(ren) home as much as possible.

My decision was not made quickly or without significant reflection, discussion, and feedback. The county’s school leaders have spent countless hours working in their districts and across the county to evaluate the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic. We hope that our decisions to limit social interactions will proactively protect against community transmission. I truly believe science supports our collective decision.

With the Commonwealth of PA executive order yesterday that essentially shut down neighboring Montgomery County, the impact on local school district daily operations has been substantial. As I mentioned last evening, more than 1,000 Bucks County teachers, support staff members, and administrators live in Montgomery County. Due to school closures in MontCo, several Bucks County school districts closed today because of inadequate staffing levels. It created unsafe conditions for children. Today, we experienced an unusually high unavailability of substitute teachers. While our conditions were safe, it negatively impacted the quality of instruction in our schools.

Quakertown will cease providing services to ALL children/students effective 6 p.m. this evening through Sunday, March. This includes:

  • Special education and related services
  • All meetings, activities, athletics, and related school events are postponed and subject to reschedule or cancellation.
  • No community use of the school facilities will be permitted during this time.
  • No bus transportation services will be provided.
  • No before or after school childcare with LifeSpan will be offered.

Everything, in short, is canceled or postponed.

School personnel and students are prohibited from entering school facilities; however, a limited number of essential staff may be needed to perform essential functions such as running payroll, cleaning facilities, maintaining communication systems, and providing security as needed.

As always, we will do our best to take care of our students while schools are closed. For students on free and reduced lunch, food will be provided for pickup Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at Quakertown Community High School, 600 Park Ave. Students will need to enter their I.D. number and be able to name the school they attend. They will be allowed to enter the front door, where they will be greeted by members of Chartwells Food Service. No one, however, will be allowed through the second set of doors and into the building. Students, or parents of younger students, will be able to get breakfast for the next morning and lunch for that day. Both meals will be cold service, consisting of cereal, sandwiches, muffins, fruit, milk and juice.

As a reminder, we have compiled a list of optional educational resources for student use over the next few weeks. Comcast is providing their $9.99 internet access at home for low-income families for FREE for the next two months to help students and families who are out of school. Information can be found here.

There are many logistical and operational details that are affected by this shutdown. Our list is already growing! We will be posting some of this detailed information on the website on an ongoing basis. Please know that when I learn something important that is either community or school-related, I will get the information to you.

Thank you for your patience, your calm, and most importantly the privilege and trust to educate your child(ren).

Bill Harner
Superintendent
@BillHarner
wharner@qcsd.org

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