Good Afternoon Keystone Oaks Students, Staff and Families,
Earlier this week, I reached out with an update to make you aware that, as of last Friday, November 13, Allegheny County has been placed in the “Substantial Level” of community transmission of COVID-19. As expected, Allegheny County will remain in the “Substantial Level” for the second consecutive week. Although the Department of Education recommends that all schools transition to online learning for a two-week period, the decision is made by each individual school district.
I have shared with the School Board the most recent COVID-19 data available for the District and the communities of Castle Shannon, Dormont, and Green Tree. Given my review of the data the following educational plan will be implemented:
The District will continue with its In-Person Hybrid Model (Option #1) on Monday, November 23, 2020, and Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 2020. Students who are receiving instruction through the Synchronous Model (Option #2) and the KO Cyber Academy (Option #3), will continue to do so on these two days.
All students in all three models (Options 1, 2, 3) will participate in a half-day of online classes on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.
Thanksgiving Break will be held from Thursday, November 26, 2020, through Monday, November 30, 2020.
All students in Option #1 will participate in Online Synchronous Learning from Tuesday, December 1, 2020, through Friday, December 4, 2020. Students in Option #2 and Option #3 will continue with their instruction as they have been doing.
The District will continue to offer its free curbside meals program. Meals will be available at each school building for pick-up between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 1, 2020, through Friday, December 4, 2020. Families may pick up meals for multiple days.
Our hope is that these few days of online learning will allow the District to quarantine and isolate any new cases of COVID-19 that may be reported following the Thanksgiving holiday, while minimizing the spread of the virus in our buildings.
The Keystone Oaks School District intends to resume its In-Person Hybrid Schedule (Option #1) on Monday, December 7, 2020. However, we are prepared to continue with online instruction if community spread warrants, or if we are unable to staff classrooms and/or other positions due to quarantine or other factors. The health and safety of our students and staff is our number one priority.
As of today, Friday, November 20, 2020, the District has nine active cases of COVID-19. Additionally, as of today, more than 50 individuals are quarantining because they have been exposed to COVID-19 and have been identified as close contacts. To date, there has been no indication that the transmission of the virus has occurred in our buildings and that the majority of the exposures have been within the community.
Within the communities of Castle Shannon, Dormont and Green Tree, there were 68 new cases of COVID-19 reported between Friday, November 13, 2020, and Thursday, November 19, 2020.
Overall, the Allegheny County Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have found that schools are not the source of COVID-19 transmission and that a majority of the spread of the virus is coming from private gatherings where public health guidelines are not being followed.
In order to be able to resume in-person instruction on December 7, 2020, I am asking our community to do the following:
Please avoid gatherings (both indoor and outside) with individuals that are not in your immediate family. This includes holiday meals and parties, get-togethers with neighbors or friends, banquets, and other social gatherings.
Anyone who travels anywhere outside of Pennsylvania must either produce a negative test result or quarantine for 14 days upon return as per the order from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health. A copy of this order is available online.
The District recommends that any student who spends time with individuals outside of their immediate family self-quarantine at home for a period of 14 days. Students who choose to self-quarantine should participate in classes online.
Anytime you are outside of your home, please wear a face covering and maintain distance from others. This is stated in another order from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health. A copy of this order is available online.
Wash your hands regularly.
If you are not feeling well, please stay home and consult with a medical provider.
If you have been in close contact with an individual who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who is being tested for the virus, please self-quarantine until test results are received or the sick person is cleared by a medical provider.
Between November 26, 2020, and December 4, 2020, please continue to communicate with your building principal and school nurse if you begin to develop symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for the virus. Due to the large increase in cases throughout Allegheny County, the Health Department has asked that school districts assist with contact tracing for any students or staff members who test positive. You may also email Suzanne Lochie, [email protected], and Sarah Welch, [email protected], if you have symptoms, test positive, or have other COVID-related questions.
Lastly, please cooperate and be honest with the contract tracing process. Whether one of our school nurses or building principals are asking questions, or a representative from the Allegheny County Health Department contacts you, we encourage you to answer their questions honestly and thoroughly. This will help identify others who may have been exposed to the virus so that they can be quarantined. Your private health information will be kept confidential.
The Keystone Oaks School District can only stay open for in-person instruction if everyone is following public health recommendations outside of school. We must continue to work together to limit the spread of the virus in our communities, ultimately keeping the schools free from the virus. If we do not follow the recommendations, we will have no choice but to implement online learning for an extended period of time. This would not be in the best interest of our students, as many of them have shared that online learning negatively affects them educationally, socially and emotionally; however, to keep both students and staff safe, if we need to move to online learning, we will do so.
Thank you for your continued support and cooperation. I wish all a Happy Thanksgiving. Please stay safe.
William P. Stropkaj, Ed.D.
Keystone Oaks School District