9/25 Message from Dr. Gerhard

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton September 25, 2020 17:23

Hello Governor Mifflin families,

As we near the one month mark of our school year, I wanted to touch base and offer an update on our year so far. 

Please click here for a corresponding video message that adds additional insight to the information included in this message.

I first want to commend our staff and students for their incredible efforts to adjust to new schedules and procedures districtwide. Our ability to continue to offer an in-person option for this school year is a direct result of the diligence of our entire school community. We must continue to mask up, practice social distancing, and use good hygiene and cleaning practices in school and out. These are more than courtesies. They are necessary to keep our community safe and healthy.

As of the time of this message, we have had 6 total COVID-19 cases on our Governor Mifflin campus. For each of these cases, we have provided immediate action and timely communications to our district. 

The work you don’t see is how the past few weeks have allowed us to greatly improve our response process. As we began this school year, we did so planning for the hypothetical. Since then, we have tested and reevaluated our procedures to put in place more efficient and thorough measured responses to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

We have worked closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and PA Department of Education to ensure we are taking all required steps and finding opportunities to go beyond the baseline response to further protect the health and wellbeing of our students and staff. Your feedback has also been greatly appreciated and helpful in guiding our response and work going forward.

We are currently following stricter protocols than what is required of us by the PA Department of Health. This includes asking individuals who may have been in contact to quarantine before the receipt of a positive COVID-19 test. While we are also only required to communicate positive cases of COVID-19 to those who are considered to have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive, we will continue to follow our own communication plan. Our plan includes immediate outreach to those who have been in close contact, additional outreach to those who have been in a shared classroom space with an affected individual, and a district-wide communication of all positive cases. 

One of the most important factors we are considering when examining potential or confirmed cases are the connections within our schools or whether cases originated outside of our buildings. We are working to mitigate this factor by implementing more stringent and proactive quarantine measures and more far-reaching communications to encourage enhanced monitoring for those who are not by definition in close contact with a positive case, but who may have been in a shared space. We will also be increasing the frequency of our daily health and safety reminders within our schools.

I have received the question “When will you have to close due to COVID cases in buildings?” The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania Department of Education have provided guidance for districts. It is important to note that the tool provided to districts is not a mandate, but guidance, and it is also based on the matrix of “Low,” “Moderate,” and “Substantial” transmission rates. Berks County remains in the “Moderate” transmission phase. 

The guidance provided for closure also utilizes a rolling 14-day window. When we have a positive case in one of our buildings, the clock starts ticking on a 14-day period for that particular case. However, each case must be examined within its individual context and whether it is a single case or multiple cases with a common connection. With any future reported positive or presumed cases, we will continue to evaluate the need for closure based on the unique circumstances of that case.

In closing, Governor Mifflin High School will reopen on Monday, September 28 following the AM/PM hybrid schedule that we have been using since the beginning of the school year. High school extracurricular activities may resume Saturday and Sunday and participants who had  extracurricular activities scheduled for this weekend should look for further communication from their coach or advisor. In the next few days you can also expect an email with detailed information regarding this year’s modified schedule during student half-days and in the event of a weather-related school closure or delay. We want to make sure to provide that information prior to our first scheduled half day on October 9 so you can plan accordingly.

As always, I thank you for your continued support of our efforts and wish you a safe and healthy weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Steve Gerhard
Superintendent
Governor Mifflin School District 

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton September 25, 2020 17:23