Pottsgrove Directors Approve New Health, Safety Changes

Pottsgrove Directors Approve New Health, Safety Changes

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Changes to the Pottsgrove School District COVID-19 health and safety plan were enacted Tuesday (Jan. 11, 2022) by its school board, primarily at the request of the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. The office changed the implementation of some test programs, renamed others, and eliminated a testing requirement for a limited number of district employees.

The seven-page plan emphasizes the value of having students attend school in-person whenever possible, Superintendent Dr. David Finnerty (at top) noted. At the county’s recommendation, the plan was updated for guidance on:

  • Increasing contact tracing for virus exposures in so-called student “high-risk activities” like sports, some music programs, and dining in the cafeterias;
  • Eliminating contact tracing for exposures on school buses, on which federal law dictates all students must wear masks;
  • Providing an option for specific district employees – those exposed to a COVID case within their households, who have been partially vaccinated, and who are apparently healthy and without symptoms – to return to work after successfully passing daily tests for infection over a 10-day period;
  • Providing a program that allows students and employees – those apparently healthy and without symptoms but who have been exposed to infection either at school or within the community but not in their households – to return to school for learning or work purposes with specified testing; and in a separate approval,
  • Eliminating assurance testing of unvaccinated employees who are apparently healthy and without symptoms.

In suggesting an end to tests of unvaccinated employees, the county indicated it preferred to “invest testing resources toward high-value testing programs, Finnerty reported.

Compliance was necessary, Superintendent Dr. David Finnerty said, because the district is covered by the county office’s operating license and relies on coronavirus test materials it supplies.

The changes come at a time when the local level of community virus transmission (above) has reached a 6-month-high rate, reported Monday (Jan. 10), of 944 new cases during a 7-day period. An acceptably moderate index level is less than 100 cases; a low index level, less than 10 cases. “The numbers aren’t good,” Finnerty acknowledged.

As it has in the past, the district’s reliance on masking in classrooms and for some extracurricular activities as a means of preventing infection came under fire in audience comments that strongly criticized the practice, chided administrators for adhering to county guidance, and urged masking be stopped.

Also Tuesday, school directors:

  • “Regretfully” accepted the resignation of district Director of Facilities Jeffrey Cardwell, who has worked for Pottsgrove during the past seven years. He is taking another position elsewhere;
  • Approved a real estate assessment appeal for the Home Depot store at 293-295 Armand Hammer Blvd. For 2022 it reduces the property’s taxable value from $4.71 million to $4.59 million;
  • Agreed to revise and simplify the district calendar for the 2021-2022 academic year to provide two weather-related in-person make-up days. The revisions ensure the last day of school remains unchanged;
  • Accepted new board committee assignments for 2022 as recommended by President Al Leach; and
  • Accepted the resignation of board member William “Bill” Parker, who is moving out of the district to Virginia to accept a new job. Directors called for applications from the public for consideration to fill his remaining two-year term.

The Post anticipates covering these items in detail in future stories for publication.

Photo from a screenshot provided by the Pottsgrove School District and the PCTV Network