Today's Update To Our COVID-19 Response Plan

Today's Update To Our COVID-19 Response Plan
Posted on 03/12/2020

Good evening!

There is no doubt that your phone was buzzing last night and today with media notifications and text messages about the ever-changing world regarding the coronavirus. From professional sports leagues and the NCAA postponing their seasons, to the two Presidential candidates canceling political rallies. Even Disneyland is closed until the end of the month. COVID-19 is front and center impacting our world and what we do every day.

The most significant announcement for us today was Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s closing down all Montgomery County Schools, gyms, entertainment venues, and some public transportation systems for the next two weeks. His purpose is to slow down the “community spread” of COVID-19, as Montgomery County is the epicenter of half the cases identified in Pennsylvania. With only County Line Road dividing MontCo from Bucks County, where does his decision leave us?

Checking our employee rolls, 88 (23 percent) of our Quakertown teachers live in MontCo with their families. That number grows to more than a thousand teachers who cross the Montgomery County line to teach in Bucks County public schools. With the Governor’s primary COVID-19 mitigation strategy to slow down the “community spread” and minimize travel, we do not know the impact of his decision on having a Quakertown teacher in front of your student(s) over the next two weeks of school. On a normal school day, 10 percent of our teachers are not present for duty. Depending on the school, if the teacher absence rate approaches 25 percent we may have to close the school. Another fact bearing on the problem is our average fill rate for substitute teachers is 68 percent. We expect our pool of substitutes to decline during the pandemic. Therefore, we will have to be patient to see what happens on a day to day basis. Long term cancellation of schools is not yet an option we are utilizing in Bucks County. Although some districts are electing to close for an individual day for cleaning or other purposes. We continue to consult with the Bucks County Department of Health multiple times per day, and are following or exceeding their recommendations.

In the meantime, in concert with other superintendents across Bucks County, the following decisions have been made effective immediately through April 14th:

  • Only students, staff, faculty, and other school district/IU employees will be allowed in Quakertown schools.
  • Student pickup will be outside the front door of our schools.
  • No parents, visitors, or non-QCSD staff/students will be admitted into our school buildings.
  • All parent meetings will be by telephone, including IEP meetings.
  • School buildings will be closed each day once in-school after-school activities are completed - no later than 6 p.m.
  • All field trips and student travel are postponed or canceled.
  • All events, fundraisers, performances, and other large group activities are postponed.
  • After school activities will continue as scheduled, e.g. sports practices and other extracurricular activities, but there will be no competitions with other schools.
  • In the event that schools are closed, please see QCSD At Home Learning Opportunities for educational opportunities for your student(s).
  • All facilities rentals are canceled.
  • LifeSpan before and after-school care will continue to be open in district schools as long as school is open.
  • In the event of a planned long-term closure, we have a plan to provide Chromebooks to elementary students for home use.

We continue to be diligent with our extra sanitizing routines both in our buildings and on our buses. We continue to promote healthy habits, including handwashing. We continue to ask that if your child is sick, keep them home.

This situation is evolving hour by hour, and I will continue to update you as circumstances and/or direction from the Bucks County Department of Health or other state and local agencies changes. Thank you for your patience and calm during this most extraordinary time.

Bill Harner

Superintendent

@BillHarner

wharner@qcsd.org

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