Derry Area School District Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources

Many areas of the world, including the United States, are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19.

On March 11, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. To slow the spread of the virus, on March 13, Governor Wolf ordered all public K–12 schools in Pennsylvania state to close through March 30th.

As schools, students, families, and communities plan for and experience closures, DASD is committed to providing ongoing guidance and resources as we sort through this unprecedented situation together. The most current guidance and resources are provided below.

The health and safety of our learners and staff are our top priorities. We continue to monitor the local and national developments regarding the COVID-19 virus and have made preparations to respond to how the virus may impact our community. This page will continue to be updated daily to reflect the most current information available.

If you have specific questions about your child's health or the health of a family member, you should contact your family's healthcare provider.

10/21 - Covid-19 Closure Update

October 21, 2020

Good Afternoon,

Unfortunately, the district has continued to experience individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. These positive cases are from both staff and students. The current district cases are severely hindering the safe operation of our schools. Additionally, our school community and Westmoreland County continue to experience an increase in cases that has led to a county-wide ‘substantial’ designation for October 9, 2020 through October 15, 2020. Based on the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the last five days in Westmoreland County, it is likely that this county-wide ‘substantial’ designation will extend into next week.

Both the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Department of Health recommend full remote learning during a county-wide ‘substantial’ designation. Earlier this week all school superintendents in Westmoreland County participated in a meeting with representatives from the PDE and DOH. During this meeting these representatives strongly reinforced the recommended guidance (full remote learning). As a result of the information above, and out of an abundance of caution, the entire district will abide by these recommendations and remain in remote learning (iTrojan) through Friday, October 30, 2020. We will continue to monitor local and county-wide data when assessing the appropriate time to return to a face-to-face instructional model. You can view these recommendations from PDE and DOH on our covid19.dasd.us website.

We fully understand the frustration families are experiencing during this time. Please know that the health, safety and welfare of all students and staff is our top priority. Please remember to use the self-screening tool to monitor your own health. I appreciate your understanding and support as we navigate this crisis together. It is in moments like this that the strength of our Trojan community sustains each one of us. We are all in this together.

Regards,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

10/16 - COVID-19 Closure #2

Good Afternoon,


Unfortunately, the district has experienced additional individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. These positive cases are from both staff and students. Additionally, our school community and Westmoreland County are experiencing an increase in cases as well. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, the entire district will remain in a remote learning educational mode through Friday, October 23, 2020. We will continue to monitor local and county data when assessing the appropriate time to return to face-to-face instruction.

Know that the health, safety and welfare of all students and staff is our top priority. Please remember to use the self-screening tool to monitor your own health. I appreciate your understanding and support as we navigate this crisis together. It is in moments like this that the strength of our Trojan community sustains each one of us. We are all in this together.


Regards,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

10/12 - School Closure

Good Afternoon,

Earlier today, Derry Area School District (DASO) administration received notification that five school district personnel have tested positive with COVID-19. Due to privacy laws, I cannot share the name or positions of the employees. Administration followed all protocols and worked directly with the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH defines a "close contact" as an individual who was within six feet of a positive case of COVID-19 for at least fifteen consecutive minutes. All close contacts were immediately notified by either DOH, DASO school nurses or the DASO pandemic coordinators. The close contacts have been directed to quarantine at home.

DASO will follow the recommendations from DOH and Department of Education (DOE) that schools are to use following identification of a case(s) of COVID-19. The guidelines state that schools within a county of moderate level of community transmission of COVID-19 and have 2-4 students/staff in the same building or multiple school buildings with individual cases who are not household contacts, are too close for at least five days. As such, all schools in DASO will be closed for in-person instruction from Tuesday, October 13, 2020 through Friday, October 16, 2020. All students in DASO will utilize the iTrojan on line learning platform and will receive virtual instruction from their teachers during this time. DASO students who attend Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (EWCTC) are only able to participate via remote instruction during this time period.

All activities and athletic events are canceled effective immediately through Sunday, October 18, 2020. At this time, we are planning to re-open the schools for in-person instruction on Monday, October 19, 2020. DASO administration will communicate any/all adjustments with you if this date needs to change. Additionally, please know that our school lunch program will continue this week and all families who wish to participate are asked to visit the website: lunch.dasd.us each morning and simply submit the number of lunches you will be picking up each day to assist us so we can prepare enough meals accordingly.

Know that the health, safety and welfare of all students and staff is our top priority. Please remember to use the self­screening tool to monitor your own health and others in your household. Please keep your child home if he/she is symptomatic according to the two groups of symptoms provided on the tool, and consult with your medical provider. Please communicate and share information with our nurses. I appreciate your understanding and support as we navigate this crisis together. It is in moments like this that the strength of our Trojan community sustains each one of us. We are all in this together.

Regards,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

9/13 - Student COVID-19 Reminders

Good Afternoon,

We want to partner with our families with a few COVID-19 Reminders as we are successfully through the first two weeks of school. In the effort to keep our entire school community safe, we are asking you to follow the procedures listed below.

If you or a member of your household has been tested for COVID-19, all DASD students residing in your home are not permitted to return to school until a negative test result is received or the appropriate quarantine period is completed as per PA DOH guidelines. Please also contact your child’s school nurse who will provide appropriate guidance.

Review the DASD screening tool each morning. **Please see the next page for DASD Student Screening Tool. Keep your child home if they have one or more symptoms from Column A or two or more symptoms from Column B. Also, students should stay home if they are taking fever reducing medicines.

If a student develops symptoms while at school, they should notify their teacher.

Please follow the travel advisory per PA Department of Health

https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx

Contact a school nurse if you have any questions or concerns.

Kim Long - GV (724) 694-2400 ext. 1197

Wendy Angus - MS/HS (724) 694-1401 ext. 2305


Sincerely,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

9/13 - Parent Letter - Breakfast and Lunch for all students - Seamless Summer Option (SSO) waiver 12.31.2020 - 9.13.2020

Good Afternoon,

We are pleased to announce that starting Monday, September 14, 2020 the Derry Area School District will begin serving Breakfast and Lunches to all children/students in the community free of charge. This is due to the extension of the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) waiver and will run until December 31, 2020 (or based on available funding). Students who purchased meals from September 1, 2020 to September 14, 2020 will have a full reimbursement for those meals.

We ask that you please complete your application for FREE or REDUCED priced meals if you have not already. Please note this is available to ALL children/students in the community. Our promise to you is that we will do our best to keep your child safe and healthy. Rest assured that all the extra steps are being taken in disinfecting our serving areas and kitchen. Our hope is that in the near future, we will be able to incorporate more choices in the meals for our students. For now, it is all about safety and providing a healthy meal under the current circumstances.

Students not attending school in-person and participating through remote instruction may pick-up breakfast and/or lunch at the Middle School entrance between 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In closing, thank you for your support and patience. Please feel free to contact Gwen Kozar with the DASD Food Service Department at gkozar@dasd.us or 724-694-1401 x 1442 if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

9/3 - EPC Letter to Faculty

Good Afternoon,

Earlier today, we received notification that a middle school employee is considered presumptively positive with COVID-19. Due to privacy laws, I cannot share the employee's name or position. The employee was sent home earlier in the week and is in isolation there. Administration followed all protocols and worked directly with the Department of Health to conduct contact tracing. All close contacts were immediately notified and have been directed to quarantine at home. All buildings are routinely disinfected every evening.

At this time, we have no reason to believe any additional contacts or individuals should be concerned regarding this situation. All schools in the Derry Area School District will remain status quo based on the recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Know that the health, safety and welfare of all students and staff is our top priority. Please remember to use the self-screening tool to monitor your own health. I appreciate your understanding and support as we navigate this crisis together. It is in moments like this that the strength of our Trojan community sustains each one of us. We are all in this together.

Sincerely,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

4/9 - PA Public Schools closed for the remainder of the year

Dear Derry Area School District Family,

Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all Pennsylvania Public Schools will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. School districts had no prior knowledge of the governor’s announcement.

There will be many questions that need to be answered in the coming days. Many of these answers can only be provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. I ask for your patience during this time of uncertainty. We will provide information to our community as it becomes available. I am certain that there will be many rumors and speculation in the media, on social media, etc. I ask that you please wait to hear directly from the district, as we will be the best source of information as it relates to the Derry Area School District.

I am proud of our district and the overwhelming positive community support as we have embarked on our continuity of education plan as strongly recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Please be advised we will continue with remote instruction until announced otherwise. Many thanks to our outstanding teachers, administrators, support staff, students, and parents/guardians who have shown great pride in your Derry Area School District.

Sincerely,

Eric P. Curry

Superintendent

4/7 - Derry Area School District Continuity of Education Plan

To view the Derry Area School District Continuity of Education Plan please click the below link

bit.ly/dasdeducationplan


3/25 - DASD Students and Families

March 25, 2020

Dear Derry Area Students and Families,

It has certainly been an interesting ride for all of us as we are finding ways to navigate our new normal during the novel COVID-19 virus outbreak. I am learning so many new things, as I am sure you are as well.

I am happy to announce that the Derry Area School District is finalizing plans to resume instruction for our students. While we will not be physically returning to school until April 9, 2020 at the earliest, we are planning to provide instruction to students in a variety of different methods. Unlike some districts, the resources available to the students in Derry Area vary greatly. Our approach will take these resource limitations, recognize them, and do the absolute best to make sure the learning needs of each individual student is being met to the best of our ability. It WILL NOT be perfect and there will be bumps along the way, but together we will sort through the challenges and emerge stronger at the end of this experience.

Our plan is to have teachers working remotely with administrators on Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31, with instruction beginning for students on April 1. Please do not panic! This will be a gradual experience that will take a few weeks to begin feeling comfortable both teaching and learning in a new way. Very shortly you will begin receiving a variety of notifications from the district. These notifications will address many questions related to processes for getting technology, materials, etc. If you find yourself with questions that haven't been addressed, please email your building principal. Please give them time to respond. I assure you they will get back to you.

I am excited about the next few weeks, not because we have all of the answers, but because we are about to see great administrators, teachers, support staff, students and families rallying together to remind us all of how fortunate we are to be the family that is DERRY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT! GO TROJANS!

Sincerely,

Eric Curry

Superintendent

3/23 - A message from Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera

Dear Derry Area School District Community,

A message from Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera…


"This afternoon, the Department of Education (PDE) announced that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6, 2020 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.”


“Under the new timeline, school buildings would reopen on April 7, 2020 for two days to allow school administrators, teachers, and other staff time to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return to school on April 9, 2020, unless extending the closure is needed in response to the situation with the virus at that time. To assist schools during the extended closure, the state’s 29 intermediate units are ready to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, 2020."


Specific plans for continuity of education for the Derry Area School District will be announced at a later time. Please continue to check our website for available resources and additional information. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this ever-changing time period.

3/19 - GV Elementary closed to essential staff

Good Afternoon,

Earlier today the district administration was notified by a support staff employee at Grandview Elementary School that a family member in their household has been tested for COVID-19. Acting prudently and with an abundance of caution, we have decided to close Grandview Elementary and have sent all essential employees home through next Tuesday. We have asked that they monitor their health and if symptoms arise they should contact their health care provider immediately. Again the family member has been tested and no results are available at this time. All necessary steps recommended by the CDC and PA Department of Health are being followed.

We feel confident that operations in the middle school and high school can continue with essential staff at this time. This includes the preparation and distribution of the student lunch program, which is based out of the middle/high school. Schools will continue to be closed to the general public as ordered by Governor Wolf.

Thank you.


3/17 - District response to Pennsylvania Department of Education guidance

A Message from Mr. Eric Curry, Derry Area School District Superintendent:

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is having a significant global impact. We know that our Derry Area School District families have many questions. Because this situation is fluid, there are many questions your district board and administration are not yet able to answer. We continue to await guidance from both our federal and state governments.

As you can imagine there are many rumors and speculation coming from a variety of sources such as news media, social media, etc. In an effort to keep you informed, we will only post updates and answers that we know provide factual, up-to-date information. One question we can answer for you is whether or not we will be continuing student education utilizing alternative methods such as on-line instruction or packets.

Below you will see the direct guidance given to us from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and our responses as a school district. Please take the time to read and understand our approach. I must emphasize that as the Superintendent of the Derry Area School District, my charge is to assure that Free Appropriate Public Education is provided to ALL students in the district.

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate these uncharted waters.

With High Regard,

Eric Curry

Superintendent


QUESTION #1: ARE SCHOOLS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ANY TYPE OF INSTRUCTION DURING THE CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS DUE TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) RESPONSE EFFORTS?

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Response:

No. PDE recognizes that the rapidly evolving pandemic may make it impossible to implement continuity of education plans.

  • Although not required, many schools have plans, or are creating plans, to provide continuity of education.

  • Intermediate units are preparing to offer technical assistance for schools interested in developing such plans; that support will be available by Friday, March 20, 2020.


Derry Area School District Response:

Derry Area School District (DASD), along with several other Westmoreland County school districts will not provide any type of instruction during the closure of schools due to novel coronavirus COVID-19. The rationale for this decision is detailed in our school district responses below.


QUESTION #2: FOR SCHOOL ENTITIES CONSIDERING CONTINUITY OF EDUCATION, WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Response:

  • Educational services may continue in a variety of ways, including:

    • Flexible Instructional Days for districts/schools with approved plans

    • Online/digital learning opportunities

    • Non-digital learning opportunities (e.g., materials sent home with students)

  • The decision to employ one or more of the above methods of continuity of education is to be made at the local level based on feasibility, availability of resources, access and equity considerations, and the Commonwealth’s social distancing recommendations.

  • Whatever decision is made, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must ensure full access to learning for all students, with particular attention to free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities and English as a second language (ESL) services for English Learners (ELs).


Derry Area School District Response:

Derry Area School District (DASD) along with all other Westmoreland County school districts did not apply for Flexible Instructional Days when the window for application was made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in September 2019. DASD is not able to ensure full access to learning for ALL students, with the particular attention to free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for our neediest learners.

While DASD has considered online/digital learning opportunities, it is not that simple. DASD provides education and support to all students in our school district so that all students can be actively engaged and successful. In our school district, many families do not have internet-capable devices and/or internet access at home (even though companies are providing free/unlimited high-speed internet access to most homes), some families live in areas where internet access is not available, and some students require services and support that cannot be provided through an online format or paper packets. Because we cannot provide distance education that would be equitable to ALL students, we will not attempt it in our school district.


QUESTION #3: IS A SCHOOL REQUIRED TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE FREE AND APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE) TO STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES DURING A SCHOOL CLOSURE CAUSED BY NOVEL CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 RESPONSE EFFORTS?

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Response:

  • When a school is closed because of novel coronavirus COVID-19 response efforts and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, the school is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that closure period. Once school resumes, the district/school must provide special education and related services to the child in accordance with the child’s individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan.

  • When a school is closed because of novel coronavirus COVID-19 response efforts and does provide educational services to the general student population, the school must ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. In addition, districts/schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. Once school resumes, a child’s IEP team (or appropriate personnel under Section 504) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed, consistent with applicable requirements, including to make up for any skills that may have been lost during the closure within a reasonable timeframe.

Derry Area School District Response:

Derry Area School District (DASD) will not provide any educational services to the general student population during the state-mandated school closure due to novel coronavirus COVID-19.


3/16 - Student meals

We are pleased to announce that the Derry Area School District has applied and been approved to provide bagged lunches to district students during the closure of school. Details including times and distribution sites will be announced tomorrow. Please continue to monitor our district website and notification systems for information.


3/17/2020

Good Afternoon,

As announced yesterday through the Notify message system, all Derry Area School District students are able to get free breakfast and lunch during our school closure. We will provide delivery services Monday through Friday to 1116 Murtha Way from 10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m., Holiday Acres at Scott Court by the playground from 11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., the Derry Area Community Center from 11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., and Dogwood Mobile Home Park on Earl Drive from 12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. These time frames are estimates and may need adjustment as we begin this delivery. Please be patient with us as we are making every effort to provide for our students.

In addition, we will have a drive-thru service at the High School Cafeteria entrance in the school’s rear parking lot from 11 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Meals, a lunch for the current day and a breakfast for the next day, will be available beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020 throughout the entire closure. If you can’t make it to one of the delivery sites or have other specific questions, contact our Food Service Director, Gwen Kozar, at 724-694-1401 x1442 or x 1476 or via email gkozar@dasd.us.

Please note, all the meals are free to any Derry Area School District student and any other person under the age of 18 who lives in the district. You do not have to be on free or reduced lunch to receive a meal. This is open to all.

Thank you.

3/14 - Act 80 Days

Date: March 14, 2020

To: Faculty and Staff

From: Mr. Eric Curry, Superintendent

Re: Act 80 Days Update

As you know, the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is creating a situation where decisions need to be constantly re-evaluated and revised. As a result, the Derry Area School District will not have Act 80 days on Monday or Tuesday, March 16 and 17, 2020. Teachers are not to report to work.

We will continue to monitor the situation to determine next steps and plan to provide you with more guidance as things unfold. You should anticipate receiving a message from us Monday or Tuesday to provide you with an update.

3/13 - Guidance for Long Term School Closure

Dear Derry Area School District Parents and Guardians:

Governor Tom Wolf has closed all K-12 schools in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the next ten business days, effective Monday, March 16, 2020 in an effort to ensure the health and safety of our students and school communities. This closure includes all school-related activities scheduled from Saturday, March 14, 2020 - Sunday, March 29, 2020. The Governor’s Office will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the commonwealth, and at the end of 10 business days will re-evaluate and decide whether continued closure is needed.

We will share updated information with you through phone calls, emails, texts and social media on Facebook. We have created a new space on our website (dasd.us) with information on COVID-19. You will find this by clicking on the red button on the bottom right side of the homepage. Our website will be your primary source for updated plans for supporting schools and students. We will provide you with updated information as decisions are made that will also include determination on make-up days.

We appreciate your support as we work together to deal with this difficult issue. Please know our district will always do its best to protect the health, safety and welfare of our students, staff and our entire school community.