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Reynolds School District News Article

Covid-19 Guidelines for Instruction

January 5, 2021
Re: Covid-19 Guidelines for Instruction

Dear Reynolds’ Families,

I hope you had an enjoyable and safe holiday break. This letter updates you on our continued effort to provide your children with a quality education while complying with the COVID-19 rules and guidance from the Department of Health and Department of Education.

Currently, Mercer County remains in the "substantial" transmission category for COVID-19. This is Mercer County's ninth consecutive week in this category. A substantial transmission rate indicates an incident rate greater than 100 per 100,00 residents or a positivity rate greater or equal to 10% in the most recent 7 days. This past week Mercer County had a 321.6 incidence rate and a 13.3% positivity rate.

The Department of Health and Department of Education recommend a Full Remote Learning Model for all schools in counties with a "substantial" transmission rate. Despite our desire to welcome students back to in-person instruction, Reynolds will continue to follow this guidance. We will continue to monitor this transmission rate and other data to inform our decisions. You can access this data by visiting the Department of Health or Department of Education websites.

Many of you will be disappointed and frustrated by this decision. COVID-19 guidance and data will never capture the stress placed on your family. Our children deserve a return to normal. The District's decision to follow this guidance may seem like we are ignoring these considerations. We are not.

The District has considered many factors in making this decision. Our main objective is to provide a consistent education for your children. Under the current conditions and restrictions, we believe Full Remote Learning is the only means of doing so.

Any attempt to deliver in-person instruction will guarantee inconsistency. Schools in “substantial” transmission counties must comply with strict school-closure rules. Under these rules, as few as two cases in 14 days will require us to immediately close school buildings for 3-7 days.

During in-person learning in November, we also struggled to maintain the minimum necessary staff to educate and support our students. Mandatory quarantine periods for confirmed cases and close contacts quickly took over our staff. Despite our open job posting for substitute teachers, custodians, food service employees, nurses, aides, etc., we do not have access to the necessary substitute staff to fill the need.

Given these challenges, the District’s decision to focus on consistent education and safety, and Pennsylvania’s guidance and rules, we feel compelled to make the unpopular decision to remain in the remove learning environment. Other school districts may select different priorities and reach different conclusions. We can only share what has guided our administration to continue with our plan.

Every member of the District administration wants to see children back in school. We look forward to announcing a return date as soon as the conditions permit it. Until then, we will continue to work hard to deliver the best education we can in a remote environment.

If your child is experiencing increased stress or anxiety due to distance learning, please contact our guidance counselors at the numbers below:

Reynolds Elementary School
                                     Reynolds Junior/Senior High School
Mrs. Sylvia Bittner 
724-646-5600 ext. 6065
Ms. Taryn (Dobson) Zitkovic 
724-646-5700 ext. 7714
Mr. Timothy Scarvel 
724-646-5700 ext. 7716

They can assist you in brainstorming strategies and solution to help.

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult school year.

Sincerely,
 
John Sibeto
Superintendent of Schools

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