Pottsgrove Heeds Health Order: Suspends In-Person Classes, Delays Hybrid Launch

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Pottsgrove schools will adhere to a Montgomery County Public Health Board order issued Friday (Nov. 13, 2020), the school district said, by temporarily suspending all in-person education occurring at its buildings and returning to virtual-only lessons for a two-week limited period between Nov. 23 (Monday) and Dec. 6 (Sunday).

The health board decision – its unanimous approval of a “School Risk Reduction and Mitigation Order” that affects all public and private schools operating within the county – is intended to inhibit the spread of coronavirus following the Thanksgiving holiday. It was overwhelmingly opposed by about 500 virtual viewers during the same board’s public discussions just a day earlier.

In Pottsgrove, the order delays plans that would have let students return Nov. 30 (Monday) to a hybrid education model using both in-person and remote learning. It also disrupts personalized education the district has offered for several weeks to special needs students.

Although infection positivity rates “in Pottsgrove schools have remained stable, and the health and safety protocols that are in place have been working, it is the interactions outside of school that are contributing to the increased (coronavirus infections) in our community and surrounding areas,” district Superintendent Dr. William Shirk wrote in a letter distributed Friday afternoon.

Coronavirus case volume “throughout all of Montgomery County has impacted the speed with which contact tracing can be performed,” Shirk’s letter explained. “And without accurate and timely contact tracing, the possibility of infected individuals not moving to quarantine or isolation hinders efforts to protect our population from the spread of the virus.”

In light of the order, Shirk said, district schools will follow a timeline that includes:

  • Conducting virtual parent-teacher conferences as scheduled Nov. 23-24 (Monday and Tuesday);
  • Closing all district buildings for the holiday break, Nov. 25-27 (Wednesday through Friday); and
  • Educating all students in a virtual instruction platform Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

The health board order officially ends Dec. 6 (Sunday), and gives families, students, teachers and others returning from Thanksgiving about a week before heading back into classrooms to determine if they’ve been infected by the virus and, if so, begin necessary isolation and quarantine procedures.

“Please understand these plans are subject to change at any time due to governmental orders or changing circumstances surrounding the pandemic,” Shirk’s letter noted. “A determination regarding the month of December will be made as we continue to monitor the situation” with guidance from the county,” he added.

Read The Post’s bulletin, published Friday at mid-day, regarding the county health board vote:

County Health Office Imposes Two-Week ‘School Risk Reduction’ Order

NORRISTOWN PA – The Montgomery County Office of Public Health board voted unanimously Friday (Nov. 13, 2020), during a virtual meeting broadcast on Facebook, to approve a “School Risk Reduction and Mitigation Order” that restricts all schools operating within the county to virtual education, and eliminates in-person attendance, for a two-week period from Nov. 23 (Monday) to Dec. 6 (2020; Sunday).

The measure is intended to stop the spread of coronavirus infection.

A video of the meeting of 14 minutes and 55 seconds can be seen on its Facebook page, here.

Coverage of the vote reported elsewhere

Photo by Thomas Park via Unsplash, used under license