Local schools react to coronavirus

The Department of Public Health recommends that schools prepare for the possibility of high rates of illness among students and staff.
MELISSA MITMAN

Philadelphia may not have the infamous coronavirus (COVID-19) yet, but a few of the surrounding areas do. As of Monday afternoon, the state of Pennsylvania has 10 cases of COVID-19. Seven of the cases are in Montgomery County, one in Delaware County, one in Monroe County and one in Wayne County.

Metro reported that Philadelphia is prepared to take on the challenge of COVID-19, but are local schools?

A release from officials states that children are at higher risk for viruses. Due to playing and care-giving activities, they can easily spread viruses to others. Students living on campuses also have a higher risk of passing along the virus. So are schools ready to combat the illness?

As of Monday morning, Germantown Academy closed its campus for the majority of March, the Central Bucks School District is reopening five schools, and Malvern Prep has canceled all domestic travel as a result of COVID-19.

Germantown Academy

Inquirer.com reports that as a result of the coronavirus case in Montgomery County, Germantown Academy is shutting down its campus through spring break. The school shared the announcement on Sunday.

Rich Schellhas, the head of the school, told parents that one of two individuals from the county presumed to be infected is a family member of a Germantown Academy student.

Germantown Academy— a top private school in the region— reported that it will close its campus in Fort Washington. The school will be closed Monday through Wednesday, stay closed, and begin online classes. The online classes will start on Thursday through March 17, according to Inquirer.com.

The school was planning on holding the College Board SATs, which were scheduled for March 14, but they cannot host them.

“Our goal is to keep students engaged in their learning in age-appropriate, meaningful ways even when they are not at [Germantown Academy] and to move the curriculum gently forward,” Schellhas wrote to parents, according to Inquirer.com.

Central Bucks School District

The Central Bucks School District reported that five schools that were closed on Friday due to COVID-19 concerns have reopened Monday.

The schools all underwent a deep cleaning and also had consultations from the county, state and federal officials, according to Inquirer.com.

“We are aware of the heightened anxiety and concern that is present in and around our community. Many of us are parents ourselves, and we take our responsibility to care for the safety and well-being of more than 18,000 children very seriously,” Central Bucks Superintendent John J. Kopicki told Inquirer.com.

It was reported that the district closed Titus Elementary School, Butler Elementary School, Tohicken Middle School, Tamamend Middle School and Central Bucks South High School on Friday.

Malvern Prep

Malvern Prep, on Sunday, announced that they are canceling all domestic travel plans. The trips will include both athletic school trips and academic trips.

The cancellation of trips includes anything by bus, train, air and more, according to Inquirer.com.

Father Donald Reilly, head of school, sent out a memo to students, staff and faculty.

“This decision was not made lightly. We understand that this is not ideal; however, many states, including Pennsylvania, have issued states of emergency. This indicates that they expect the outbreak of the coronavirus to escalate with a need for resources from the Federal Government. Also, as a school, we cannot put our students in a situation where their health is at risk or where they may need to be quarantined either at home or away,” Reilly’s note read, according to Inquirer.com.

Although the school canceled travel, it was reported they are are not planning on canceling classes.

“While we hope not to close school for any length of time, out of an abundance of caution, we feel it is important to train our faculty and staff for remote learning days,” Reilly told Inquirer.com.

To prepare, the school staff has been instructed to bring home laptops with work materials on them.

When it comes to preparing for COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shared new guidelines on their website for schools that have COVID-19 in their community and for schools who have yet to get cases of COVID-19.

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