Good Afternoon Keystone Oaks Students, Staff and Families,
On Monday, November 23, 2020, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced new COVID-19 guidance that is now mandated for Pre-K-12 schools. The guidance is based on the number of cases in each school building over a rolling 14-day period.
PDE and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are recommending full remote learning for all K-12 schools in counties that over a period of two weeks have had substantial levels of community transmission. Allegheny County was placed in the substantial level on Friday, November 13, 2020 and remains in the substantial level today.
However, school districts may choose to pursue in-person instruction; however they must follow new guidance. The District had to affirm to PDE that all or some of Keystone Oaks’ students are receiving in-person instruction and that the District will comply with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s updated order on face coverings as well as the the updated Recommendations for Pre-K to 12 Schools Following Identification of a Case(s) of COVID-19, when cases of COVID-19 occur within the public school entity. By signing this document, these are no longer recommendations by PDE but now become mandates.
The new guidance outlines mandates for when school buildings must close for in-person instruction; that determination is based on the number of students enrolled at the school and the number of positive cases (students and staff) over a rolling 14-day period. Our school buildings fall into the following categories:
Aiken Elementary - Small
Domont Elementary - Small
Myrtle Elementary - Small
Keystone Oaks Middle School - Small
Keystone Oaks High School - Medium
If one of our schools reaches the threshold for the number of positive COVID-19 cases, the building must close for in-person learning for the amount of time it will take to complete case investigations, contact tracing, and cleaning and disinfecting.
I have been asked by the Allegheny County Health Department and the PA Department of Health to remind you of 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. Please note that this order does not apply to children 11 years of age or younger, although quarantine is still recommended for anyone who travels.
Wash your hands regularly.
If you are not feeling well, please stay home and consult with a medical provider. Please continue to conduct daily self-health screenings of your children before sending them to school.
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.
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 contact 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. 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.
William P. Stropkaj, Ed.D.
Keystone Oaks School District