CORONAVIRUS 2019 (COVID-19) UPDATE - March 30
March 30, 2020
Dear USC Families:
This afternoon Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania’s public school districts will remain closed indefinitely. Upper St. Clair had planned to remain closed until at least April 14, 2020. The district’s closure will now extend at least until the statewide closure expires.
As previously planned, remote learning will begin this Thursday, April 2, and continue throughout our closure.
March 26, 2020
Dear Upper St. Clair Families:
I hope this email finds you well. We appreciate your patience, understanding, and support as we navigate this challenging situation. The Upper St. Clair School District fully recognizes that Pennsylvania’s shutdown of schools and non-life-sustaining businesses is impacting our collective community and each of you individually. I continue to be impressed by our community’s ability to come together and support one another during this extremely difficult time.
Despite all of the challenges we are facing, education and our students continue to be the focus for our District staff. We hope that you have been able to access the optional educational resources that were shared last week. The extended school closure has prompted the need for a more robust continuity of instruction plan. We are taking direction from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and watching pending legislation to ensure that when we begin remote instruction, we meet all of the legislative and PDE mandates.
We are committed to continuing to provide quality learning opportunities and instruction that our community expects and students deserve. Our staff has been working diligently to develop a remote instruction plan that will provide continuity of education for our students. Elementary, middle, and high school leadership teams have been meeting daily in preparation for the transition to delivering instruction remotely. In addition to advancing our educational program, these efforts will enable us to preserve the current graduation date for seniors and the last day of school for all other students.
REMOTE INSTRUCTION BEGINS APRIL 2
Teacher-led remote instruction will begin on Thursday, April 2. Details regarding your school-specific schedule and program will be sent directly by your building administrator. Our plan includes multiple options for flexible remote instruction, including student access to course activities and lessons that will be available throughout the day. Detailed information will be provided to you by your building administrator no later than Tuesday, March 31. Additional information and resources will also be posted on the District’s website at that time.
ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY
Students in grades 5-12 have a district-issued iPad or Chromebook. Our technology staff has developed a system to enable elementary families who do not already have a district supplied device in the household, and who qualify for free or reduced priced meals (or families with extenuating circumstances) to borrow an iPad for the duration of the closure. Due to limited inventory, we must restrict loans to one device per family. To complete the COVID-19 District-Loaner iPad Request Form visit: uscsd.org/devicerequest.
For families who do not currently have Internet access in their homes, companies are offering free or low-cost Internet service for qualifying families. Click here to learn more from Comcast or click here to learn more from Verizon.
Dates of Current USCSD Closure
We are in the midst of the second week of the governor’s mandated school closure. As you may know, Gov. Wolf recently expanded the initial two-week closure for one additional week -- through April 6 with the possibility of further extensions. This latest state-wide extension does not impact our course of action. Upper St. Clair schools will remain closed through at least Monday, April 13.
End of School Year
As of today and pending PDE approval, our plan for remote instruction will enable the remainder of the school year to finish on-time per the existing 2019-20 School Calendar. As stated above, graduation for our seniors is anticipated to proceed as scheduled on June 4 and the last day of school for all other students remains June 9.
In order to preserve the end of the school year dates and to avoid further disruption to our students’ education, remote instruction will be provided during our previously scheduled Spring Break, April 6-10 and April 13. These days will now be designated for remote instructional days. The flexibility of remote learning enables families who may be observing religious holidays or traveling to continue to participate in educational activities and timelines for work completion will be flexible.
In the event that additional changes are needed to the school calendar or the end of the school year, we will notify families immediately.
STATE-MANDATED TESTING (PSSA and Keystone exams)
The Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera recently announced the cancellation of all state standardized testing – including the PSSA, PASA (our alternative assessment), and Keystone Exams – that was scheduled for this spring.
This is a welcome relief amidst a very uncertain period of time in education. We are grateful that our energy and efforts can be devoted to addressing our students’ most pressing needs. And, when instruction resumes, our school days will be devoted to instruction rather than test administration.
We are looking to make potential changes to the methodology as well as adjustments to our marking periods for progress reports and report cards. Those changes will be shared by your building administrators as soon as details are finalized.
At the outset of next week, you will receive an email from your building administrator regarding the specifics of your child’s remote learning experience. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your child’s principal via email.
We look forward to seeing you and all of our students when our medical professionals and government officials deem it safe to return. In the meantime, please know we remain committed to delivering a high quality remote learning experience.
Dr. John T. Rozzo
March 18, 2020
Good Evening Upper St. Clair Families:
We are on day three of the governor’s mandated closure of all Pennsylvania public schools. I hope you and your family are doing well in the midst of these uncertain times. Our curriculum leaders and administrators have developed an online resource hub for optional educational opportunities for students and their families to use during our current school closure. While these resources are entirely optional and do not replace instruction, we hope they will help to keep our students engaged during their time away from school.
Click here to access the OPTIONAL School Closure Resources.
Our Optional USC School Closure Resources are intended to support families throughout our school closure. While there are still many unanswered questions and the Pennsylvania Department of Education continues to issue guidance, we are planning for other educational options including the possibility of fully remote instruction in the very near future. Please know there is a great deal of planning taking place to ensure the most appropriate continuing learning opportunities are made available to all students as soon as possible.
There has been discussion in the media in regard to Flexible Instruction Days (FID). These days (a maximum of five) were approved through the Pennsylvania Department of Education with the intent of not having to make up snow days and were never intended to replace classroom instruction for an extended period of time.
While school districts have needed to close short-term for a variety of issues – the extended closure we are currently experiencing is most certainly unexpected and unprecedented. We don’t have all the answers, but we are moving forward in developing a plan to continue to meet the needs of our students and their families, our staff and our community throughout this worldwide pandemic.
School Meal Distribution
Yesterday, an email was sent to all Upper St. Clair families who qualify for free or reduced priced meals. A to-go meal package that includes a lunch as well as a breakfast for the following day is being offered to all qualifying families. Meals will be available for curbside pick-up on weekdays, beginning tomorrow. Families are asked to pre-order via an online form. If you qualify and did not receive an email, please contact Lauren Madia, assistant director of student support services, at email@example.com so that we can make sure you receive any assistance you may need.
Everyone’s health and safety are what’s most important. Please continue to follow the recommendations established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect you and your family during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Thank you for your continued support. We will continue to communicate with you as new information is available.
John T. Rozzo, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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
March 13, 2020
This morning we participated in a webinar with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and, subsequently, watched the Office of the Governor’s press conference in the afternoon. Unfortunately, school districts were not provided the direction and guidance that we had expected from our state leaders. As such, southern Allegheny County superintendents and their respective School Boards have collaborated and each has made the decision to close schools for the foreseeable future.
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Upper St. Clair School District will remain CLOSED until Tuesday, April 14, 2020. During this time, ALL school district activities and athletics at all levels are suspended.
Our students have been instructed to bring home all of their instructional materials and any personal items they may need throughout the next several weeks. We are currently treating 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.
At this time, we do not know what impact this will have on our school calendar relative to make-up days, number of required instructional days, standardized testing schedules, etc. However, at this point in time, those issues are secondary to the health and wellbeing of our students, our staff and the greater community. We are making today’s cancellation decision out of an abundance of caution. The medical community has been clear – the only way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing.
We know there are many questions – especially how this closure will affect our graduating seniors. We ask for your patience as we sort through some of these issues. Information will be shared on our district’s website as well as through additional emails as decisions are made.
In addition, we recognize that this extended closure may be a hardship for many families. We will be gathering and sharing additional information including a list of school and community resources in the coming days.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
John T. Rozzo, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
March 12, 2020
Information Regarding Activities & Athletics
Dear Upper St. Clair Families:
As you know, news surrounding the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has been prevalent throughout the last 24 hours with significant new developments. While all of this information can feel overwhelming and confusing, we remain committed to making decisions that keep the safety of our students, our staff and our community at the forefront. We continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations. The latest guidance suggests that organizations limit large events to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many higher education institutions and even professional sports have suspended operations in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
With this guidance in mind, the Upper St. Clair School District is instituting new measures intended to preserve the continuation of the district’s core educational services for as long as possible while safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our community. As such, most events held in our school facilities/properties beyond the school day are canceled/postponed. Effective this evening and until at least Tuesday, April 14, 2020, only the following activities will occur in our schools/facilities:
- Kindergarten – grade 8: School and Extended Day Services ONLY
- High School: School and in-season athletics ONLY. No spectators will be allowed at home competitions
Please note that ALL events from outside permit holders are canceled.
In addition, all non-essential school-sponsored travel for staff and students is also suspended until at least Tuesday, April 14. A team of district officials has been meeting on a daily basis to assess the status of the district and make recommendations going forward.
These new measures are a continuation of our current course of action: prevention, preparedness, public health and, most of all, people. Clearing the school buildings as soon as possible after the school day provides custodial staff additional time and access to more thoroughly clean and disinfect schools and classrooms.
If you have questions or comments, please contact your building principal and/or Tina Vojtko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know these measures may be disappointing to you. However, please know that at the forefront of every decision is the commitment to protect the safety and welfare of our students, our staff and our community members. While we hope these measures will enable us to continue to safely deliver educational services for our 4,100 students, we expect additional difficult decisions in the coming days and weeks.
We will continue to provide regular updates as new information is available and/or additional decisions are made. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.
John T. Rozzo, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
The lists below provide examples of events that are postponed/cancelled. The list is not all-inclusive but provides direction. If you require further clarification, please contact the respective building administrator.
School-Sponsored Events that are Postponed/Canceled
High school musical
Musical cast party
Middle school musicals
Middle school athletics
Out-of-district/overnight scheduled trips/events
Fundraising events hosted in schools
Strategic Plan Events
After school clubs
Kids of Steel (Baker)
Athletics Events that are Postponed/Canceled (home events will be held without spectators)
Non-WPIAL/PIAA competitions and trips
All non-district permit holders: Non-District Events in district facilities that are Postponed/Canceled – daytime and evening (everything except for Extended Day Services)
PTC, PTA, PTO, PTSO sponsored meetings, clubs and events
Booster group meetings and events hosted in schools
PTA, PTO, PTSO – sponsored after-school programming
SAT & ACT testing
Odyssey of the Mind
Youth athletics (USCAA)
Town Hall South
CCAC evening classes
River City Brass Band
PEAQ Swim Club
CORONAVIRUS 2019 (COVID-19) UPDATE
March 11, 2020
Good afternoon Upper St. Clair Families:
As you may know, earlier today it was announced that the spread of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has reached pandemic levels, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to guidance offered by the WHO, the Upper St. Clair School District will be maintaining its current course of action: prevention, preparedness, public health and, most of all, people.
We are continuing normal school operations with an additional focus on prevention and preparedness as we make plans for the possibility that we could be affected at some point in the future. Please know that the health and safety of our students and staff continue to be our primary concern. I want to make sure you are aware of the steps the District is taking to promote health and safety and minimize exposure to the COVID-19 in addition to current flu strains and other illnesses.
As I reported at the School Board meeting on Monday evening, we are working closely with the Upper St. Clair Township, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the Allegheny County Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to coordinate additional health and safety protocols that may be recommended. We are also continuously monitoring the Centers for Disease Control website and related resources to ensure our District is taking all steps necessary to avoid exposure and the spread of viruses in our schools. Our custodial staff is continuing their focus on enhanced cleaning protocols.
Any student or staff member who is ill should stay home – including athletics and activities.
We will continue to promote and permit voluntary absences from school for any student who may have been exposed to illnesses through travel or through contact with a member of their household. Any potential exposure case should be immediately reported to your child’s school nurse and/or building principal. Students shall not be penalized for an excused absence for illness or for an absence that has been approved/directed by the School District due to potential exposure.
Likewise, we have provided similar guidance to our athletics and extracurricular activity coaches and sponsors. If our students involved in these activities or members of our coaching staff/sponsors are not feeling well, they should not attend practices/rehearsals or competitions. While generally, students must practice to compete or perform, given the current national health concerns, those who are sick must be encouraged – and, if necessary, instructed – to stay home. Therefore, until further notice, students should not be penalized or be concerned about losing participation time due to an absence for a legitimate illness.
Ongoing District Preparations
At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our area, and state/local authorities have not yet provided guidance regarding closures or cancellations for large events. You have seen a number of local organizations cancel events on their own. A team of District leaders is meeting and reviewing information daily in order to make informed decisions about our preparation and strategies moving forward – including the possibility of event cancellations, future school closures and/or extended absences. Please know that our teachers and building principals remain focused on maintaining a calm and supportive learning environment.
We are in the process of adapting our emergency preparedness plans to incorporate recommendations from Allegheny County for pandemic planning for K-12 schools. We will also be working with our teachers to discuss options for alternative delivery of instruction in the event that an extended closure is needed or directed.
Resources for Families
Links to information on COVID-19 can be accessed on our District website. We will continue to update this webpage as new information becomes available. Among the recent additions are two resources that may be of interest to our families:
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
From the National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Nurses
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Anticipated Guidance from State/Education Leaders
We expect to hear from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education (tentatively scheduled for this Friday), where additional guidance and directives may be provided to all Pennsylvania public schools. We are hopeful that the guidance will provide clarity as to which decisions will be made at the state vs local level. Formal approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education is needed for any significant changes to the school year, required number of instructional days and/or the permissibility of using technology to deliver instruction remotely.
Thank you for your understanding as we continue to work through this challenging and evolving situation.
John T. Rozzo, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Monday, March 2, 2020
Important Coronavirus Information
Information regarding the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has dominated the news cycle over the past several weeks. Please note that there are NO confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania and the risk of infection to the general public is currently LOW.
Information regarding the coronavirus – including links to resources from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Allegheny County Health Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Health – are available on the district’s website under the “Health Services” tab. This information was posted in early February and will continue to be updated as needed.
I want to assure you that our administration, facilities and health services staff have been closely monitoring this evolving situation for the last several weeks and we are following the recommendations/guidelines put forth by the CDC. District leaders and representatives from our school nursing staff have been in direct contact with the Allegheny County Health Department.
The coronavirus is spread much like the common cold or flu, such as through the air by coughing or sneezing; through close, personal contact; and through touching an object or surface with the virus on it. As such, our Facilities & Operations Department has reviewed and made the necessary preparations to ensure that our schools are amply stocked with recommended cleaning supplies to fight a variety of germs and viruses. Since it is cold and flu season, our custodial staff is spending extra time and attention on high-touch surfaces. We appreciate their diligence in helping to keep our schools healthy and safe.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Thai-USA Exchange – which typically welcomes students and teachers from Thailand for a month each spring – has been suspended until 2021. At this time, we will continue to monitor travel advisories from the CDC in making decisions regarding all school-sponsored travel for as long as necessary.
Although there have been no confirmed cases in the area, we are following recommendations of the CDC and monitoring travel and potential exposure for our students and families. We are also exploring options to address educational needs for any students who cannot attend school temporarily.
GUIDANCE TO FAMILIES RETURNING FROM INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
We ask that if any member of your household (adult or child) has traveled to any one of the travel-restricted countries in the past 14 days that you immediately contact your building principal to discuss any required safety protocols prior to returning your child(ren) to school. The travel restricted countries currently include: China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or Hong Kong – this list will be updated as guidance is provided by the CDC.
Additionally, if your child has been approved for international travel via the district’s educational trip form, contact your building principal prior to your child returning to school.
As this outbreak is a virus, the best defense is to follow the same precautions recommended to prevent the spread of the cold and flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following practical advice:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- The CDC does not recommend the use of face masks as a way to prevent the virus’ spread.
Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our students, staff and all who enter our facilities is our top priority. If necessary and appropriate, we will provide further updates. In the meantime, below please find links to several online resources from the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health as well as the Allegheny County Health Department.
Please be assured that our district administrators and health services staff are monitoring this situation on a daily basis. However, the focus within our schools and classrooms continues to be on education while providing a safe, nurturing environment. Should you have any concerns regarding your child’s health and safety, please contact your healthcare provider, school nurse and/or building principal. Thank you for helping to keep our schools and, most importantly, our students safe and healthy.
John Rozzo, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
- About Human Coronaviruses
- Coronavirus in the U.S.
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Coronavirus
- Information for Travelers
- What to do if you are sick with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
- Pennsylvania Department of Health - Coronavirus
- Fact Sheet provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Allegheny County Health Department – 2019 Novel Coronavirus