Coronavirus

Remote learning has been extended for Corry Area Middle-High School students in grades seven through 12 through Friday, Dec. 4, as the school district devises a hybrid in-person learning schedule for some or all of those students.

Every parent of a Corry Area School District student, however, needs to be prepared to transition to remote learning at a moment's notice based on new guidance from the state.

Pre-K through sixth-grade students can return to in-person learning - if their parents so choose - after Thanksgiving break as planned on Tuesday, Dec. 1. All parents of those grades have the option of remote learning.

During a meeting on Monday night in the middle-high school cafeteria, Corry Area School Board members supported the extension of remote learning for grades seven through 12 through Dec. 4 to give administrators time to create and implement a hybrid learning plan, which would be combination of in-person and remote instruction.

"We need time to work through the details," Corry Area School District Superintendent Sheri Yetzer told The Corry Journal. "My goal is to try to social distance students in grades seven to 12 so we can have them on campus. However, we have to definitely look at what that looks like and whether or not the hybrid will end up being seven to 12 or nine to 12. That's to be determined based on our future discussion."

If the district is able to socially distance Corry Area Middle School students - grades six, seven and eight - then there's a strong possibility that those students will still be offered face-to-face learning beyond just a handful of days each week, according to Yetzer.

"I can say with 100% certainty that grades nine to 12 will definitely have a combination of face to face and remote," she said. "It's yet to be determined for seven and eight, until we can figure out the social distancing of those grade levels."

Yetzer said she will have a committee of administrators and teachers helping her develop the hybrid learning plan early next week. The details will be announced to the public once they're finalized.

That said, parents of Corry students should be aware that the district may have to quickly transition to full remote learning if a school building has to be closed down due to a certain number of COVID-19 cases, based on the state's latest requirement.

School districts across the commonwealth on Monday afternoon received new mandates from Gov. Tom Wolf's Administration on how to handle COVID cases in pre-K to 12 school buildings. Yetzer said CASD received new guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and state Department of Health just hours before last night's school board meeting.

Erie County has been categorized in the substantial transmission level for two weeks in a row, mandating that schools must commit to certain safety measures.

Warren and Crawford also are listed in the substantial category.

If a school chooses not to commit to the safety measures, it must move to full, remote learning and cancel all extracurricular activities.

School leaders by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, must sign an attestation form stating they have either moved to full, remote learning, or that they are complying with the state's orders for in-person instruction.

"Signing that attestation form ensures that we will follow that new matrix, so we have to make sure that we follow exactly what the state is saying we need to do, based on the number of cases at each building," Yetzer said.

Corry Area School Board members on Monday made a motion to approve the signing of the attestation form by Yetzer and board President Dr. Doris Gernovich. The motion passed unanimously.

Schools must also comply with updated protocols if a case of COVID-19 in the building is identified.

If one student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in a school building with less than 500 students and staff, such as Corry Area Primary School, Corry Area Intermediate School and Corry Area Middle School, then the district will consider altering its schedule to significantly decrease the number of students on site, clean areas where the case spent time, and close contacts will be directed to quarantine.

If two to four people in the same school building with less than 500 students and staff who are not household contacts test positive, then the district will close the school for three to seven days and clean areas where the cases spent time.

If there are five or more positive cases in a school building under 500 people, then it must be closed for 14 days and the whole school must be cleaned.

The case counts are slightly higher for a school building with 500 to 900 students and staff, which is where Corry Area High School falls.

If one to three students or staff members in a school building between 500 to 900 people test positive, then the district will consider altering its schedule to significantly decrease the number of students on site, clean areas where the case spent time and close contacts will be directed to quarantine.

If four to six people test positive, then the district will close the school for three to seven days and clean areas where the cases spent time. If there are seven or more positive cases in a school building between 500 and 900 people, then it must be closed for 14 days and the whole school must be cleaned.

The requirements are in place only as long as the county is in the substantial transmission level, which is 100 incidents per 100,000 residents.

If case investigations, contact tracing and cleaning and disinfecting can be accomplished in a faster time frame, then the length of closure time may be shortened, according to the state's guidance.

CASD currently has three active COVID-19 cases - two at Corry Area Intermediate School (CAIS) and one at Corry Area High School. To date, the Corry school district has had eight total cases but five have been resolved.

With two active cases at CAIS, the district would have to close the school for three to seven days, but the district doesn't have to since all CASD students are remote learning today and Wednesday, followed by Thanksgiving break from Nov. 26 to Nov. 30.

"If we were in session, we would have to follow this, but because we're not and we have break, we don't need to follow that closure right now," Yetzer said.

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