Pottstown, Pottsgrove Schools Plan for Virus

POTTSTOWN PA – Leaders in the Pottstown and Pottsgrove school districts have pledged they will be prepared, and keep the public informed, if developments related to the spread of coronavirus appear to have any current or future effect on their student populations and staffs.

Superintendents in both sent letters and information to their respective families, describing what actions had already been taken and what others are planned, in response to weekend announcements that the virus was presumed to have infected four individuals in Montgomery County.

The virus, also known as COVID19, reportedly targets the elderly, as well as others with respiratory or other underlying health conditions, and not youths. Even so, administrators expressed concern for the welfare of all district households and emphasized the need for precaution.

Pottstown Schools Plan Virtual Town Hall

A “virtual town hall meeting,” during which Pottstown School District officials will “review the known facts” about coronavirus, answer questions, and share information with the public, is scheduled to be broadcast Thursday (March 12) at 5:30 p.m. on what Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said were the district’s “usual platforms.”

The district maintains a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, all of which have broadcast capabilities.

Although participants in the town hall haven’t yet been named, it’s possible some will be members of a Coronavirus Task Force the district intends to establish beginning Monday (today, March 9). Rodriguez said that group will involve “multiple stakeholders, including staff, board members, and community members,” and is intended to “help to plan, implement, and communicate on any new issues.”

Additionally, the district has established a new e-mail address, Covid19@pottstownk12.org, for students, staff, and community members to ask any questions, share relevant reports, or request information as this health crisis develops. “Don’t hesitate to send questions immediately,” Rodriguez urged.

“This influenza strain is highly contagious, and based on all known data thus far, our very best efforts must be in prevention, rather than reaction,” the superintendent noted. To that end, he said, the district also plans to:

  • Look into installing “second-hand timers in all student bathrooms, so that students can effectively wash their hands for 20 seconds;”
  • “Teach age-appropriate lessons in every single classroom, including specific skills in how to wash hands and use hand sanitizer;”
  • Ensure hand sanitizer is made available in all classrooms;
  • “Hire extra or approve overtime for nightly disinfection of all hard surfaces that students and staff come in contact with” – door handles, water fountains, banisters, and others – “as needed;”
  • Work with its contractor, Pottstown-based CMD Transportation Services Inc., “for the ongoing sanitation of transportation vehicles;” and
  • Have its school nursing team “review symptoms and keep current with all updates” from federal, state, and local agencies.

Rodriquez acknowledged he had contacted the state Education Department for “concrete guidance on our limited options, should it become necessary to close our schools. This would be a last resort option, as Pottstown families may struggle with work and child care issues. However, just like weather events, safety is our primary concern,” he said.

A coronavirus information page was added to Pottstown’s website, here.

‘Diligence’ in Pottsgrove Schools

Maintenance and janitorial personnel in the Pottsgrove School District are continuing “to be diligent in our cleaning and sanitizing protocols throughout district buildings,” in response to the coronavirus, district Superintendent Dr. William Shirk pledged Friday (March 6) in a public letter to families.

Shirk added Pottsgrove was “working closely” with county and state agencies and organizations “to monitor COVID-19 conditions and make recommendations about the steps to take concerning the health of our students and staff.”

A coronavirus information page was added to Pottsgrove’s website, here.

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