March 16, 2020
As a parent of three Upper St. Clair students, I empathize with the feelings and uncertainty the COVID-19 has caused. The rapidly changing information from our local, state and federal officials as well as the media can be overwhelming. As parents, we are concerned about the health of our children, our relatives, and our neighbors. Upper St. Clair is a community that cares deeply about one another. As we move forward through these uncertain times, please know that your children (our USC students) remain at the forefront of every decision we make.
Last Friday Upper St. Clair made the decision to close all schools through Monday, April 13. Later that afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf mandated that all Pennsylvania public schools close for two weeks (March 16-27). Despite this new information, the district is moving forward with its original plan to resume on Tuesday, April 14.
We continue to treat this closure as a school break without instruction until we are provided additional guidance or instructional options from the Pennsylvania Department of Education or the Office of the Governor. We recognize that closing school for any length of time creates a tremendous challenge for families. As cases of COVID-19 are just now being confirmed in our region, it is extremely likely that two weeks will not be sufficient to contain the spread of the virus. Setting the expectation up front that our schools will remain closed until April 14 enables families to plan appropriately. We are hopeful that we will be able to return to normal operations following spring break.
This does not mean that student engagement must come to a stop. Our administrators and curriculum leaders are developing a hub of optional online resources that will be easily accessible for students and their families. While these resources are not required and do not replace instruction, we hope they will help to keep our students engaged during these weeks away from school. We will share the link to these resources with families via email later this week. Please know we are continually discussing and evaluating how we can/will deliver instruction for a prolonged closure.
Over the weekend we received some information from the Pennsylvania Department of Education regarding the 180-instructional day requirement for schools. We were informed that school districts will not be penalized for the mandated two-week closure (March 16-27). However, it is unclear how these missed days will impact our 2019-20 school calendar. If we receive additional information regarding the delivery of instruction and the academic calendar, we will adjust our plans accordingly. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.
As a reminder, all school facilities – buildings and fields/grounds – are closed. All permits for facility use have been canceled. All athletics, including youth sports, are prohibited from practicing or competing. During this closure, if you need to reach district personnel, district email is advised.
Closing schools, libraries, restaurants and other places for gathering is meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you to follow the recommendations of the CDC and health officials. Practice social distancing, wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face, avoid those who are sick, and simply stay home, especially if you’re sick.
We know this is an uncertain time. Fortunately, Upper St. Clair is a strong and supportive community that looks out for one another. We will get through this together.
John T. Rozzo, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools