10/19 Message from Dr. Gerhard

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton October 19, 2020 19:22

Dear Governor Mifflin families,

I write to communicate a critical and developing update to what is occurring in regards to the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases, specifically in Berks County. On Monday, I joined superintendents from Berks and Schuylkill Counties as we met with officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education. This meeting was called to brief us on the movement of our counties from the “moderate” to the “substantial” transmission category, which provides guidance based on data from the COVID-19 Early Warning Dashboard.

As a reminder, the two main metrics being used to identify transmission phase is incidence rate per 100,000 residents and positivity rate. This past week, Berks County’s incidence rate increase triggered a response from DOH to move us into the “substantial” transmission category. In August, prior to the start of the school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education developed guidance for school districts to consider when determining instructional models. This guidance included a recommendation for a full virtual instructional model if the community is in a substantial transmission phase after two subsequent seven day periods. We have entered our first seven day period and will continue to monitor the situation in the days ahead and communicate any changes as needed.

Right now, Governor Mifflin will continue to offer the same learning options for our students, including full in-person learning for PreK-6, a daily half-day hybrid for 7-12, and a fully virtual option. 

Since the beginning of the school year, our district has had eight COVID-19 cases among students and staff. Districts throughout Berks have also reported cases. At no time have we dismissed any case as insignificant and with all cases, we have taken precautions that exceed baseline recommendations. However, what we are currently considering strongly is the data provided locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally that shows the spread of the virus is not occurring in schools that practice mitigation protocols. We know that the majority of the school districts in Pennsylvania are in some form of in-person learning and continue to do so despite the state guidelines that were developed prior to the start of the school year.

Over the next week, we will continue to work closely with our colleagues in other Berks County districts, the Berks County IU and the Department of Health to monitor the COVID-19 data, as we have since the start of the school year. If there are any changes to our instructional models, we will provide that information as early as possible.

We are not ignoring this movement into the “substantial” COVID-19 transmission rate and it should serve as a serious reminder of what we each need to do to mitigate the spread within our community. Especially as we head into the winter months, we cannot lose focus on the importance of wearing masks, washing hands often, and staying home if you have any symptoms of illness. Our ability to continue to remain open and provide learning options is a direct result of your daily diligence and we are grateful for your continued cooperation and efforts. Please make sure you complete a daily health screening for each of your students or before you enter our buildings.

Thank you for your partnership and support in this unusual school year.

Sincerely,

Dr. Steve Gerhard
Superintendent
Governor Mifflin School District

Melissa Fullerton
By Melissa Fullerton October 19, 2020 19:22