Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update Center
April 1, 2020 (posted at 6:45 p.m.) (NEW)
Dear EASD Community,
Since the closure of our schools just over two weeks ago, our top priority has been to help meet the health, safety, and basic needs of our entire community followed by our steadfast commitment to re-starting our students’ learning, in a meaningful way. We are grateful for the many messages of support and encouragement we have received as we move forward as a district. Rest assured, EASD will continue to work together to provide equal access and remove reasonable barriers for our students. Our professional educators are working diligently to prioritize the essentials of our curriculum. However, all of us must remember that this is a style of teaching and learning that is different than many of us are accustomed to. Please continue to be patient as we work through the challenges of everything now being remote and online. We understand that our plan may not be perfect, nor will it be able to address every nuance that can be provided in our normal operations. However, we are dedicated to providing continuity of learning opportunities for our students during these unprecedented times.
Last evening, I shared a statement with our Board of School Directors regarding the steps that have been taken as a district during these school closures; a specific message for our students; and clarification on some of the calendar and event questions. PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THIS FULL STATEMENT. Additionally, you will also find our complete Continuity of Education Plan plan required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to address the steps the district will take during this pandemic.
As you know, this week we transitioned to our virtual Enrichment and Review Hubs (Phase One of EASD’s Continuity of Education Plan). While our educators and students are unable to physically be in our classrooms, your child’s participation in this virtual environment is important to support his or her continued growth as a learner. We know this may be hard for some students. Please breathe and be patient. We understand that every student will engage and invest in different ways throughout the day. Please have your child stay connected to their teacher(s) and learning. Some students may want to do everything at one time, and others may have to chunk their work throughout the day. Encourage those healthy and successful habits that are most meaningful for your child, as you know them best. If you are having difficulty adjusting to the current enrichment and review hubs, please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor, or building principal for guidance and tips.
Over the next week or two, our teachers will begin to move away from enrichment and review offerings to providing new curricular learning. As such, we are strongly encouraging you to fully invest yourself and your child into the remote learning opportunities now so when the transition to new learning occurs it can go as seamless as possible. Stay tuned for more information on this transition from your child’s principal.
With our remote online learning underway, we WILL make use of Thursday, April 9 as a day of online instruction for our students. In addition, given schools in Pennsylvania are closed indefinitely and we are all under a statewide, stay-at-home order, we will also be designating Monday, April 13 as a day of online instruction for our students. Utilizing these two days will enable us to provide continuity of learning and not add days to the end of the calendar. Friday, April 10 will remain as a holiday.
As we enter into the final months of this school year with the lingering uncertainty as to if and when our schools will reopen, we want you to know that we will continue to support our families and community the very best we can. We are fully aware there are still many unanswered questions (What happens if our schools do not open up again this year? What will you do about graduation? Will there be a prom? What will next year look like for my child?). Please know we are working on the answers to some of these questions as quickly as we can. Please know, however, at this time, key events like prom and graduation HAVE NOT BEEN canceled. We may have to get very creative. We ask for your continued patience and grace.
Stay safe. Keep healthy.
Thank you again for your support, flexibility, and patience.
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
April 1, 2020 (posted at 4:30 p.m.) (NEW)
While the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the traditional operations of the Elizabethtown Area School District, we are very proud to be able to provide our students with continuity of education during these unprecedented times. A sincere thank you to the faculty, staff, administration, students, and families who are all making this work a reality. So much credit goes to our EASD community as we continue to focus on our students and LEARNING.
MARCH 31, 2020 (posted at 6:30 p.m./delivered at March 31, 2020, School Board Meeting by Dr. Michele Balliet)
Please let me start my remarks by saying how much we truly miss all of our students and we look forward to a time where we can see them again, in person. We feel the same way about our faculty and staff; school board members; and our countless daily volunteers and school visitors. None of us have experienced a pandemic of this magnitude and severity ever before. As I sit here tonight in this virtual meeting I can confidently say that our E-town family of students; parents; educators; county and community leaders; and all of our stakeholders are rising to the occasion to address our community’s varied and numerous needs. We especially extend our utmost gratitude to all of those individuals who are on the front lines of this pandemic. We sincerely thank you for your efforts!
As a district, we certainly understand that this unprecedented health crisis is far greater than school closings. Many of our students, families faculty and staff rightfully are experiencing anxiety and stress over the closing of schools. However, I want to assure our community of the amazing work we’re navigating as a school district. I could not be more proud of our team of administrators, teachers, and support personnel for their rapid response to this pandemic. I’m sure you would agree that while this is an unprecedented time in our nation’s history, our focus as a district has been squarely on doing everything we can possibly do to lessen the negative impacts school closings could potentially have on our students and families. The following examples have been accomplished through intentional work and various partnerships and collaborations:
- Keeping our kids, faculty, and staff safe through strict adherence to state and federal laws and guidance.
- Communicating with our stakeholders in as timely, transparent, and comprehensive of a manner as possible.
- Partnering with the local food bank and churches for food assistance to families experiencing food insecurity.
- Planning long-term for extended school closings.
- Surveying our families on their accessibility to technology and meeting the needs of those without.
- Developing remote enrichment and review learning opportunities.
- Vetting a plethora of online resources to determine the compatibility with our instructional program, the benefit to our students’ learning, and long-term viability.
- Ensuring, to the best of our ability, an assurance of FAPE for ALL students.
- Returning student medicines and equipment back to families.
- Providing work permits to age-eligible students so they can help those businesses who remain open during this time
- Exploring all calendar considerations.
- Maintaining the operations of the $60+ million organization.
- Keeping our schools secure and safe during the extended closing.
- Working with our staff, including our hourly and part-time employees to ensure their well-being among other things.
- Donating some of our goggles to local health care providers so they can continue their work safely.
The next few weeks (and possibly even months) will not be easy. There will be challenges, frustrations, anxieties, and unknowns along the way. However, I can clearly say, based on the level of support, forged partnerships, and unwavering commitment to our students and staff, there is no doubt we will all adjust to our new normal FOR NOW and ultimately realize hope, purpose, and togetherness! We’ve got this Etown!
I’d like to recognize our administrative team, our educators and members of our support staff for putting in place a system for continuity of learning K-12 in less than two weeks. This was not an easy task by any means! Working in partnership with our education association leadership, it was very obvious early on that we were all prepared to fulfill our commitment to educating our community’s youth regardless of the circumstances and obstacles, supporting our school district’s families and their needs. While we were transitioning to one to one in our district, no one anticipated that we would be going fully online and completely remote this year!
As you know, earlier this week President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines for the nation through April 30 followed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf “indefinitely” extending the school closing and county stay-at-home orders. As such, we are moving as quickly as we can and as slow as we must with the launching of our continuity of education program.
Yesterday, all seven of our schools launched their Enrichment and Review Hubs. This phase of our continuity of education is intended to support our families by providing meaningful online review and enrichment activities to all our students. Our goal is that our Enrichment and Review remote learning opportunities bring a small sense of normalcy to our students by connecting remotely with their teachers; engaging them in learning; and providing some educational structure to their day. We will be posting our longer-term plan on our website and details will be forthcoming.
As it relates to our calendar, we have had many questions about whether or not we need to make up the days missed due to the state-ordered school closing. While in general terms the answer is no, the fine print makes it clear that there is a state expectation for school districts to make a good faith effort to use as many makeup days and online learning options as possible. As such, with the remote online learning opportunities underway, we WILL make use of Thursday, April 9 as a day of online instruction for our students. In addition, given that we are under county-wide, stay-at-home order we will also be designating Monday, April 13 as a second day of online instruction for our students. Utilizing these two days will enable us to provide continuity of learning and not add even more days to the end of the calendar. Friday, April 10 will remain as a holiday. Direct communication will be provided to our families on this change.
We are fully aware there are still many unanswered questions like What happens if our schools do not open up again this year? What about graduation? Will there be a prom? What will next year look like for my child? and so on. Please know we are working on the answers to some of these questions as quickly as we can. We ask for your continued patience. At this time, key events like prom and graduation HAVE NOT BEEN canceled. We continue to explore options and opportunities and weigh all aspects of these potential decisions. I promise we will relay the answers as soon as we are able.
Now, I would like to specifically address our students. There are no words to describe the anguish we feel for each and every one of you. Whether you are a kindergartener in your first year of formal schooling; a sixth-grader in your final year of elementary school; an anxious new student awaiting your first day school in our district because you just moved here; an athlete or performer currently missing out on your season or show; a student at our career and tech center in the middle of learning a viable trade; a senior in your final months in our district; and all of our students in-between, it is unimaginable the range of emotions you must be feeling. We will not pretend that this disruption is not robbing you of memories, experiences, performances, and competitions. We agree that this is unfair. As a school district, this is not what we envisioned for you either! All we can say is how immensely proud of you we are for your amazing resilience and willingness to persevere! We encourage you to stay healthy and take care of yourself. We also encourage you to stay connected with us and one another, practicing all social distancing guidelines. Third, we look forward to providing you an education, even if it is just remotely for the time being. Let’s work together and make the very best of this unfortunate situation. We may not be together in our buildings and are now connecting in cyberspace, however, we care about what is happening to each and every one of you. Specifically to our seniors... I promise...when it comes to those events that have been postponed and those that are scheduled for the end of the school year such as prom, senior awards, and graduation, we will continue to explore all options and opportunities. We may need to get very creative, however, we are not giving up hope. We know we will weather this unprecedented storm. Let's not forget we are all part of the E-town family and we are here to support you!
So, in conclusion, THANK YOU EASD community! We know that there is still work and learning to do. We are ALL truly in this together. Stay safe. Keep healthy.
MARCH 26, 2020 (posted at 7:30 p.m.)
Dear EASD Families,
First and foremost, we hope you and your families are well and are continuing to take all the necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe. As you are aware, the earliest the Elizabethtown Area School District would be permitted to re-open for students is April 9, 2020, due to the state-ordered school closing. Given the uncertainty about whether or not this state timeline will be extended again, our District is committed to providing our students meaningful, remote learning opportunities aligned to our curriculum for the duration of the school closure.
Now that we have completed our Chromebook distribution this past Monday, I am pleased to share that beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, we will launch our continuity of education with ENRICHMENT AND REVIEW for students in all seven of our schools. This phase of our continuity of education is intended to support our families by providing meaningful online review and enrichment activities to all our students. These opportunities will not be graded based upon performance.
Our goal is that our ENRICHMENT AND REVIEW remote learning opportunities bring a small sense of normalcy to your children by connecting them with their teachers online; engaging them in learning; and providing some educational structure to their day. While we recognize that nothing can replace the face-to-face, hands-on learning that occurs daily in our classrooms, we are confident the work our teachers and principals are developing will be helpful in supporting your child’s overall learning during school closures.
The ENRICHMENT AND REVIEW phase will commence on Monday, March 30, 2020, and can be accessed from the District website homepage at www.etownschools.org. Parents will receive additional communication about the ENRICHMENT AND REVIEW HUBS and the associated learning management system directly from their child’s principal and teacher(s) to include details about the learning activities and the expectations of the students.
As our state and federal guidance continues to evolve, we are continuing to further develop our district contingency plan in the event Governor Wolf orders schools to remain closed for a longer period of time. While our first week of remote learning will focus solely on review and enrichment materials, our long term planning will include how to best introduce new content to our students K-12. We are confident we will have a system in place for planned instruction (new content, skills, and concepts) that could begin as early as April 6, 2020, for some grade levels. Continued communication from your child’s principal, as well as their teachers, will provide additional direction and guidance.
We certainly appreciate everyone’s patience as we move through this process. Our goal is to keep our students learning as we all continue to do our part in battling this health crisis. We look forward to the launch of our ENRICHMENT AND REVIEW phase on Monday, March 30 and our partnership with all of you in this process.
Stay safe. Be well.
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
MARCH 23, 2020 - #2 (posted at 5:15 p.m.)
Dear EASD Families,
On behalf of the Elizabethtown Area School District, I want to sincerely thank our parents, students, staff, and community for your continued flexibility and patience as all of us work through this global health crisis from the local educational level. As a district, we continue to be committed to reducing the negative impacts school closings could potentially have on our families.
Earlier today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf extended the state-ordered school closing for STUDENTS through April 8, 2020, which means the earliest our schools could re-open for on-site instruction is April 9, 2020. We also understand that April 9 is currently a designated weather make up day and April 10 and 13 are currently scheduled days off for our district. As such, I will ask for the same grace as I did last week. Please be patient. No decision has been made as to how we will move forward with the school calendar and/or key events. We will continue to monitor this very fluid situation and make any necessary adjustments as needed when further guidance and direction are clearer. In the meantime, I will continue to receive regular updates from our state and national officials, and we will respond accordingly to their directives.
What we can share now and know to be clear is that we are developing a remote learning environment for students K-12. This is scheduled to begin for ALL students on Monday, March 30, 2020. Our administrative team and our teachers are in the process of finalizing these plans at the building level. Our goal is to share our plans with all families by the end of this week.
Please know that our intent is to provide continuity of learning opportunities for our students. As such, this remote learning environment may NOT replicate the same instruction and/or experience students would have received if they were still in school. We recognize these differences and encourage you and your child to work directly with your child’s teacher once we reestablish this continuity of learning on March 30.
All of us have seen some version of videos, tweets, and comments of stressed-out families across this county as they balance their families; their health; their own jobs and the education of their children. We recognize that this health crisis has put additional strains on households. Our faculty, staff, and administrators are poised to be patient with our students and families. We ask the same from all of you in return as we embark on this new journey together.
These are challenging and unprecedented times for everyone! Together we will come out of this uncertain period stronger as a school district, community, and country. In the meantime, we continue to encourage you to follow the state and federal health guidelines of “stay home” and “practice social distancing” to keep your own family safe and help “flatten the curve” to stop the spread of the virus.
Families will receive the necessary details of our plans for remote continuity of learning later this week, including how to access this valuable information directly from our district website. Rest assured, as a district, we will do our very best to provide the support needed in helping your child/ children in their learning. As educators, we miss working with students!
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
MARCH 23, 2020 - #1 (posted at 10:30 a.m.)
CHROMEBOOK PICK UP PROCEDURES - TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2020
As we continue to make contingency plans in the event of an extended school closing, we are facilitating device access to ONLY those families that previously indicated they do not have a device in their home. Elementary (K-6) families without electronic devices at home for their students are being given the option to sign out an EASD Chromebook for online learning during the current school district closing. The Department of Technology Services will be distributing Chromebooks at Bear Creek School to families who have previously responded to the district messages on:
Tuesday, March 24
- Bear Creek School and Rheems Elementary / 8:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
- Bainbridge, East High and Mill Road Elementary / 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Additional information about the use of the Chromebook and where to find technical support can be found on the district website at https://www.etownschools.org/domain/1198.
Being mindful of the directives for social distancing, the pick up procedures are as follows:
- The car line will start at the Bear Creek School’s main doors and extend along the curb. It is recommended that families stay in their cars as you reach the front of the line and can be served by a member of the department of technology services.
- A member of the staff will distribute materials directly to your car.
- At the time of pick up, you will be asked for your student’s name, grade level, school of attendance, and homeroom teacher’s name prior to receiving a Chromebook device and power supply.
- Students log into the Chromebook using a district username and password. Please ask for this information during pickup if your student is unsure of their credentials.
- Username: First Name_Middle Initial_Last Name
- Example: john_k_smith
- Example: john_k_smith
- Password: Provided to the student on-demand if needed
- Username: First Name_Middle Initial_Last Name
- After receiving the materials, you will be asked to exit the parking lot.
By picking up an EASD Chromebook, parents/guardians acknowledge that their student(s) are receiving the Chromebook to use during the current school closure. Once school resumes, the Chromebook will be returned in a fully functional state. You will be responsible for any damage that occurs to the device and/or the included accessories. Use of this Chromebook is governed by the existing Acceptable Use of Internet, Computers and Network Resources Policy 815 - https://tinyurl.com/EASDPolicy815.
MARCH 20, 2020 - #2 (posted at 4:45 p.m.)
ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY/INTERNET SURVEY: The Elizabethtown Area School District is making contingency plans in the event the state-ordered, two-week closing of school is extended. One part of our planning is to implement remote-learning opportunities at all grade levels (grades K-12). Any plan involving technology is predicated on our families having (1) availability of a computer or tablet - not a phone - AND (2) access to wi-fi in the home. If you don’t have access to either a computer/tablet or wi-fi in the home, contact your child’s principal (see contact information below). Please include your name, your child’s name, and a contact number where you can be reached for each message you leave. If you have children in multiple schools, we respectfully request you to call each school principal separately and leave a message. If we do not hear from you by Sunday, March 22 by 7 PM, we will assume you have access to a computer/tablet and wi-fi internet. Repeat, if you don’t have access to either a computer/tablet or wi-fi in the home, contact your child’s principal (see contact information below). Please leave the message at the extension provided to ensure it is received properly.
- Bainbridge Elementary - Amanda Baxter - (717) 426-4203, extension 72118
- East High Street Elementary - Kari Bittinger - (717) 361-0099, extension 50599
- Mill Road Elementary - Michael Pericci - (717) 361-7424, extension 80799
- Rheems Elementary - Jacques Viau - (717) 367-9121, extension 60899
- Bear Creek School - Dr. Nate Frank - (717) 367-0210, extension 40206
- EAMS - Kara Schoessler - (717) 361-7525, extension 31113
- EAHS - Maura Hobson - (717) 367-1533, extension 21120
MARCH 20, 2020 - #1 (posted at 3:00 p.m.)
Dear EASD Families,
We hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. Thank you for all that you are doing to support your families during this difficult time! The decision by Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf to close schools for two weeks (March 16-27) has come with a lot of questions and concerns from parents, guardians, students, staff, and school officials. Four of those concerns are 1.) whether or not students will have to make up the time being missed for the COVID-19 outbreak; 2.) what will happen if school closings are extended; 3.) what impact the closing will have on Pennsylvania’s system of standardized testing (i.e. PSSA and Keystone Exams) and 4.) what is going to happen with major school events such as prom and graduation.
Day and Hour Requirement
The guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) states… “PDE will not penalize districts/schools that fail to meet the minimum day and hour requirement.” However, the current guidance further states that schools are STRONGLY encouraged to plan possible adjustments to their calendars (e.g., use of snow days, an extension of the school year, etc.) to provide as much instruction as possible as a result of this unprecedented event. While the overall direction may seem clear, the details are not. We need to be patient. NO decision has been made by the District at this point. We do not know whether or not we will make use of our remaining weather makeup day or extend the school year further in June to make up any portion of the time lost. PDE has indicated additional guidance on this area is forthcoming. Again, please be patient as we stay in direct contact with state officials in determining our next steps.
Extension of the School Closing
At the onset of the state-ordered, two-week school closing, our focus was on how to properly follow the federal, state, and local guidance to ensure the safety of our students, staff, and community, as well as reducing the negative impacts the school closing could potentially have on our families. Now that we are one week into the closing, we are turning our attention to the very real possibility that school closings may be extended.
As we noted in a previous communication, at the time of our school closure we were unable to provide a consistent online environment for all students K-12 as was being advised by PDE. Given the potential for a longer school closing of more than two weeks, we are working daily on contingency plans in the event of a prolonged school closure. Our administrative team, in consultation with our teaching staff, is identifying the options available to provide remote, continuity of learning opportunities for regular and special education students K-12. In order to prepare for the possibility of this K-12, the District will be surveying your access to technology and wi-fi internet. A phone call and email will be sent shortly. Please pay close attention to this message and provide the requested information back to us as quickly as possible so that we can continue with our planning efforts.
As a district and a state, we are navigating uncharted waters with little to no preparation for prolonged, mass school shutdowns. Moving to a remote learning environment K-12 for continuity of education, whether online or paper packets, comes with challenges. First, everyone is aware federal and state leaders have requested organizations to limit the size of gatherings. As such, asking teachers to descend on our campus to prepare for a home-based learning environment is in direct conflict to that guidance. Second, while our 7-12th grade students are part of a one-to-one technology initiative making a virtual solution a very possible option, our k-6 elementary students are not. We ARE exploring whether an online solution would work at the elementary level given we are still not one-to-one at this level. However, if paper packets are determined to be used at the elementary level, the distribution of those packets to nearly 2,100 elementary students in a safe manner has logistical challenges. Third, by state and federal law, students receiving special education services are entitled to accommodations that may necessitate in-person support. We have approximately 600 students district-wide that receive some level of special education services. Providing appropriate accommodations to all would be difficult.
As superintendent of schools, I can assure that while challenges certainly exist, our administrators and teachers are working hard to support our students and families, individually and collectively. We are developing contingency plans for viable, systemic, continuity of learning opportunities to be delivered remotely if needed. Please be patient with us! We understand that what may be provided by the district may be vastly different from the norm, however, we can not do what’s “normal” right now. We realize that these are not easy times for all of you and your children. This is not easy for us either. Rest assured in knowing we will do our very best in supporting students’ continuity of learning needs. Until such time we may begin providing more at-home, K-12 continuity of learning, your child’s principal will continue to publish educational resources for your use (Online Instructional Resources).
Impact on Standardized Testing
In case you missed this, on Thursday, March 19, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced the cancellation of statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year as a result of COVID-19. This includes the PSSA, PASA, and Keystone Exams. As such, no schools in the Commonwealth will be administering these tests this year. Read the full release by CLICKING HERE.
Major School Events
Many rumors have been circulating stating the district has now cancelled the musical and has also cancelled the prom and graduation. Given this health crisis has been evolving every day, we have NOT made any long term plans or decisions in regards to events such as these. We certainly understand the significance of these events in the lives of our students, especially our seniors and their families. While these events are important to you, they are also important in our school community. IF and when the time comes to make such decisions, I promise you that we will continue to thoughtfully consider all the options before making informed decisions regarding the status of these events. At this current time, these events are still scheduled. If the status of these events changes in the coming days and weeks, we will let you know as quickly as we can.
In closing, please continue to take care of yourself, your families and each other. Our health and welfare are paramount right now. Check in on loved ones and continue to demonstrate care, compassion, and concern for each other. Be patient. For most of us, this is the most “together” time we have had in recent memory. Cherish the gift of time. At some point, there will be a new normal and the return of hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I know these are hard times for everyone. All of us were thrust into a new reality last Friday. I am amazed, yet not the least bit surprised, by the ongoing level of dedication from our entire team of employees (administrators, professional and support staff) and the unwavering support throughout our EASD community. Rest assured that as a school district, we will continue to work together on behalf of our students, families, and community members. We ask that you stay tuned for additional updates as we will continue to post the most accurate and up-to-date information on our website and various social media outlets in as timely a manner as possible. As such, if any clear, additional direction is provided by PDE and/or the state, we will update you accordingly.
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
MARCH 19, 2020 (posted at 6:00 p.m.)
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION- The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today the cancellation of all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year as a result of COVID-19. This includes the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA).
“Our school communities are operating within unprecedented conditions,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “Schools are making extraordinary efforts to remain connected to students and families, to provide food service and to put appropriate systems in place to continue student learning. Assessments should not be the focus of school leaders right now.
“To be clear, all assessments are cancelled for this year,” he added. “The department will submit the requisite waivers to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), but no schools in the Commonwealth will be administering these tests this year.”
PSSA testing was scheduled to begin April 20.
Keystone testing was scheduled to begin May 11.
The PASA testing window is open; however, all testing was halted on Monday, March 16, when all public schools closed.
Secretary Rivera said the department is monitoring emerging federal guidance, working with other states to advocate for flexibility, and will pursue appropriate waivers to the fullest extent allowable as soon as the USDE guidance is clarified. The USDE has already stated that it will consider a “targeted one-year waiver of the assessment requirements for those schools impacted by…extraordinary circumstances.”
Secretary Rivera added that PDE will continue to release information on the effects on accountability and school reporting as it becomes available.
The department has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at education.pa.gov/COVID19.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
MARCH 16, 2020 - #2 (posted at 6:15 p.m.)
Dear District Families:
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate these unprecedented times. Our collective goal during this public health crisis is to reduce the negative impacts on students and families as much as possible. Three frequently asked questions we are receiving are 1) what will the impact of the school closure be on the calendar; 2) whether or not we will be offering an educational program remotely that includes new content in some format; and 3) if we will be providing meals to our families in need.
School Calendar and Continuity of Educational Program:
We continue to evaluate all options to attempt to keep the end of our school year as close to our current last day of school (June 3, 2020) as possible. Given daily recommendations and mandates at the federal and state levels, this is becoming increasingly difficult. As such, the District will take the next two weeks (March 16-20 and March 23-27) to evaluate what options – if any – we have for offering quality K-12 educational programs remotely in the event schools remain shutdown longer than two weeks. With that said, we are in unchartered waters. Trying to balance calendar concerns and legal mandates without sacrificing the quality of instruction for ALL of our students will be difficult. As such, the school year MAY need to be extended. Currently, we are unable to provide a consistent online environment for students K-12. However, please see information on our website and through communication shared by your building principals for optional enrichment activities. Final calendar decisions, including major events, will NOT be made at this time.
Community-wide Support for Food Insecurity:
The Elizabethtown Area School District is part of a three-pronged, community-wide effort to support families experiencing food insecurity that includes the District, Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown, and local ministerium.
- Elizabethtown Area School District:
The District will continue to run our Bear Bags program each Friday. Families currently involved in Bears Bags will receive a separate communication with the details for pickup. Also, the District is donating food items to the Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown to help keep the shelves stocked during the school closing. For questions about the District’s Bear Bags program, contact Richard Schwarzman, assistant to the superintendent for support services and compliance, by phone at (717) 367-1521, ext. 10003 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown:
The Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown is a food choice pantry that assists residents living in our school district. For food assistance, contact the Cupboard by phone at (717) 361-8149 or by email at EtownCupboard@gmail.com.
Local churches throughout the community will be providing meal assistance to families in need of a brown bag lunch. Start date to be determined by the ministerium. For a listing of participating churches, please contact Pastor David Robinson from the Elizabethtown First Church of God by email at email@example.com or CLICK HERE.
The health and safety of our students, staff, and community remain our highest priority. We continue to work with public health officials at the local, county, state, and national levels as we make decisions we know have an impact on all of us. We will post the most accurate and up-to-date information on our website and various social media outlets in as timely a manner as possible.
MARCH 16, 2020 - #1 (posted at 12:15 p.m.)
We recognize the state-ordered, two-week closures of schools could create anxiety for families all across our communities. This surely is an unprecedented event that is impacting communities all across our state and nation. We also understand lack of information only enhances anxiety levels. However, we are prioritizing accuracy and completeness of information over speed. Please know; however, that we are working as quickly as possible to provide an update on our current status.
With that said, we are proud to hear the stories of our residents supporting their neighbors all across our communities. We encourage you to continue checking on your neighbors and supporting those most at risk with tending to their basic needs. We are confident this amazing community of ours is up to the challenge of making sure all residents – students, families, and community members – are safe and cared for during this time.
District and school-level administration are currently working on the development of a plan for continuity of our educational program and partnering with community churches and organizations for families experiencing food insecurity. We anticipate a release of information within the next 24 hours. We appreciate all the words of support and encouragement we are receiving from our community. Your messages are greatly appreciated.
MARCH 13, 2020 - #2 (posted at 2:45 p.m. / updated at 3:15 p.m.)
UPDATE (3:15 PM): PA Governor Tom Wolf has ordered the closing of ALL Commonwealth K-12 schools for ten business days beginning Monday, March 16, which extends our one-week shutdown from March 22 to March 29. More Information to Follow.
We understand that this is an unprecedented time in recent history concerning the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a precautionary measure to protect everyone in the greater-Elizabethtown community, the Elizabethtown Area School District will be closed beginning 6 p.m. this evening through March 22 as we assess this rapidly developing situation.
All EASD campuses, facilities, and offices will be closed during this time. We will work directly with identified essential personnel throughout the week in determining next steps. As such, all meetings, events, practices, and extracurricular activities are canceled from 6 p.m. on March 13 through the end of the day on March 22. The District will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation daily prior to Monday, March 23. We will share updated information as soon as we are able via our automated messaging system, website, and social media outlets.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Students: Effective at the end of the business day today (6 p.m.), ALL SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED. GEARS before- and after-school care, along with any extracurricular practices, meetings, and/or activities scheduled prior to 6 p.m. will remain in effect this afternoon. Please note, before- and after-school care will not be offered in our buildings while we are shutdown. Please check with your provider for any schedule or location changes. In addition, ALL athletics and extracurricular activities for students are canceled beginning 6 p.m. March 13 until further notice.
Employees: Effective at the end of the scheduled workday on March 13, employees should not report to work unless specifically requested by a supervisor. All facilities are closed.
Community: All buildings are closed for both internal purposes and for outside rentals during this time.
Again, our primary concern is the safety and security of students, staff, and community. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support as we all work through this challenging time together.
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
MARCH 13, 2020 - #1 (posted at 12:16 p.m.)
The safety and wellbeing of our students remain our highest priority. As we previously communicated, we continue to follow the developments on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in Pennsylvania and across the region and nation. In response to the only directives currently being advised against non-essential, large group gatherings in an indoor environment, this weekend's performances of the high school musical "Shrek" are being postponed for some time in the future.
This is the safest decision for our cast, crews, and audience members. Our student performers, stage crews, musicians, and directors have worked very hard to put on a great production, and we will do everything possible to have the show go on at later date. We can make no promises but at the very least they deserve that effort on our part.
Again, our primary concern is the safety and security of students, staff, and community. We will continue to monitor developments surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on our schools. We will communicate updates to you as quickly as possible. Stay tuned for more information if necessary, as there is a governor press conference at 12:45 p.m. this afternoon.
Rest assured, we continue to work with public health officials at the local, county, state, and national levels as we make decisions we know have an impact on all of us. This is a highly fluid situation that is rapidly changing sometimes by the day or even the hour. We strongly encourage families to make contingency plans in the event the school district needs to close down our schools and operations for a period of time. Please know the decisions we are making as a school district are for the best interest of the public health for our ENTIRE community. We recognize the impacts they have on our students, parents, community, and school system. We do not take that lightly.
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
MARCH 12, 2020 (posted at 4:15 p.m.)
With the increasing and constantly changing national, state, and local news about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, you may have questions about how the Elizabethtown Area School District is responding to the recently declared pandemic. FORTUNATELY, we still do not have any confirmed or presumed cases in Lancaster County. Regardless, we know it is just a matter of time until that changes so we have continued to stay abreast of the rapidly changing developments and implement the following COVID-19 Prevention Plan:
- GUIDANCE: We are following the guidance of federal and state agencies like the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance is being received daily. At this time, neither of the agencies is recommending school districts close without confirmed or presumptive cases in their community. I will remain in close contact with the Department of Education regarding any mandatory school closures or cancellations.
- HEALTHY HABITS: We are sharing simple, yet effective everyday actions to help all of us stay healthy. You can help reduce the risk of getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19, by taking these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while sick and avoid close contact with others.
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with elbow rather than hands.
- COMMUNICATION: Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It takes 2 to 14 days after a person gets the virus in their body to become ill.
- CLEANING: The District is committed to ensuring our learning environments are safe for our students, faculty, staff, and school visitors. The following proactive cleaning measures have been enacted:
- Reallocating custodian time away from cleaning non-essential areas that are less likely to contribute to the spread of COVID-19 to focus on high touchpoints like door handles, faucets, water fountains, light switches, etc.
- Using cleaning chemicals and procedures that have proven effective against viruses like COVID-19.
- Deploying electrostatic spraying systems in each of our school buildings to supplement the enhanced cleaning of high touchpoints.
- Reassigning a staff member to focus solely on cleaning high touchpoints in our largest building, the secondary school complex.
- ABSENTEEISM: District and school administration, along with our health services department, are closely monitoring student and staff absenteeism for any unusual trends and make parent contact when necessary. PLEASE keep your child home if they are sick. Additional flexibility will be provided during this time regarding the number of absences that a child may have during the school year.
- TRANSPORTATION: The school district’s transportation contractor, Durham School Services, is cleaning its school buses daily between the morning and afternoon runs using cleaners that have proven effective against viruses like COVID-19.
- STUDENT FIELD TRIPS AND CO-CURRICULAR TRAVEL: All student field trips and co-curricular travel planned for outside of the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit boundaries have been cancelled through the end of the school year. We will continue to examine all student field trips and co-curricular travel within the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit on a case-by-case basis. This will include an assessment of the location of the trip, known or presumptive COVID-19 cases at the trip location or surrounding area, and the number of staff and students attending.
- ALL STAFF TRAVEL: All work-related staff travel planned for outside of the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit boundaries has been cancelled through the end of the school year. We will examine all work-related staff travel within Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit boundaries on a case-by-case basis. This will include an assessment of the location of the trip, known or presumptive COVID-19 cases at the trip location or surrounding area, and the number of staff members attending
- FAMILY TRAVEL: Our school physician strongly encourages anyone who has traveled to a known high-risk area and anyone who has had a known exposure risk not return to school until properly screened by their physician's office.
- ACTIVITIES: We are following the guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), and our school physician as it relates to whether or not we should cancel school events and/or athletic contests. Presently, the high school musical will go off as planned this evening and will be re-assessed prior to the Friday and Saturday performances. The District’s custodians will be cleaning the auditorium prior to each performance. All other large gatherings will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If any schedule changes occur up to and including cancelation, we will communicate accordingly in as timely of a manner as possible.
- PLANNING: In the event a recommendation is made to close schools by a state or federal agency, we are developing options as to IF and HOW we could deliver an educational program to all students.
If we need to change plans, we will be sure to share as quickly and thoroughly as possible using our automated messaging system, social media outlets, website, and mobile app. As a reminder, you can update your phone number, email address, and textable number (SMS) through your community portal account. We encourage you to review the contact information you have registered with the District to ensure you receive vital communications when delivered. To receive a text message from the EASD, you MUST send a one-time text message of YES to 67587 from all devices you have registered with the District otherwise you will not receive text message updates.
We recognize this public health concern is significant and causing anxiety among communities all across our region and the country and will do everything possible to protect our students, faculty, staff, and school visitors. Rest assured in knowing we will continue closely monitor updates, as guidance is changing frequently due to national, state, and local developments. If you have questions about the school district’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan, please contact Troy Portser, Director of School and Community Information, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (717) 367-1521.
Michele M. Balliet, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
FEBRUARY 28, 2020 (posted at 2:00 p.m.)
Dear EASD Community:
Over the past several months, local and national news reports have been increasingly filled with stories about the coronavirus (COVID- 19) and the possibility of a pandemic in the United States. As such, we wanted to share the following information about EASD’s coronavirus (COVID- 19) planning.
- First, the District receives regular communications from the Pennsylvania Department of Health that includes updates on the coronavirus, as well as pre-planning tips in the event of a localized outbreak. CLICK HERE for Coronavirus Information provided by the PA Department of Health.
- Second, our buildings and grounds department is prepared to launch additional cleaning protocols should the need arise.
- Third, we sought input from our school physician as to any recommendations at the local level. Our school physician recommended we follow the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance at this time.
- Fourth, we are monitoring communications from the CDC as it relates to the possible impact of the coronavirus and recommendations for schools. CLICK HERE for Coronavirus Information provided by the CDC.
Finally, common cold and flu viruses are not unusual during the winter season. While school attendance is important for student success, our priority is health and safety. As always, we advise parents to not send their children to school if they are sick. This ensures your child is able to get the proper care and rest they need and protects the health and wellness of our students and staff.
The PA Department of Education has stated the best way to prepare for an outbreak in Pennsylvania continues to be ensuring you and your education community are practicing good hygiene, including washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, keeping surfaces clean, and encouraging people to stay home if they are sick. As such, we are once again sharing basic precautionary measures to avoid the spread of any virus. CLICK HERE for more Cold & Flu season reminders.
- Keeping our kids, faculty, and staff safe through strict adherence to state and federal laws and guidance.