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Westmont Hilltop School District

Coronavirus Closure Information (Updated 3/31/20 @ 3:00pm)

Parents and Guardians,

As of March 30, all classes are canceled and are scheduled to resume on Thursday, April 9, 2020.  Please stay tuned for more information.  

COVID-19 Response FAQ (Updated Monday, March 30 at 5:00pm):

Disclaimer: Please understand all of the information is subject to change based upon guidance from local and state agencies. 

Are the school district offices open? The school district offices will have limited operations on Tuesday (3/31/20) and Thursday (4/2/20) from 7:30 to 3:30. District administration, a building level administrator in each building, and a secretary in each building will be available each day.  Email and voicemail messages will be actively monitored by administration and secretaries. 

 Elementary School Office – 814-255-8707

Jr./Sr. High School Office – 814-255-8726

      The essential personnel required to be on campus during the closure is being re-evaluated as a result of Governor Wolf’s order to close all non-life-sustaining businesses.  Regardless of personnel on campus, everyone will continue to actively monitor email and voicemail messages.

 

Will students be required to make up the school day?  The Pennsylvania Department of Education has provided guidance that it will waive the 180-day/hours (990/900) requirements as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts.  We are planning on the last student school day on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, and commencement ceremony on Friday, May 29, 2020.   PDE strongly encourages school districts to adjust the school calendar to provide as much instruction as possible.  In the spirit of the request, the school district will utilize snow make-up day #2 on May 22, 2020.   Unless otherwise compelled by the PA Dept. of Education, we will continue with the previously approved school calendar with the last student school day on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, and the commencement ceremony on Friday, May 29, 2020.  

 

Is the school district considering closing beyond Thursday, April 9, 2020?   Governor Wolf has closed all Pennsylvania schools indefinitely. 

 

Will the end of year field trips and activities be canceled?  Many of the activities and field trips have been canceled by the site location and we will continue to work with our teachers, advisors, and parent groups to determine if future activities will need to be canceled.  The school district is promoting social distancing and avoiding crowds during the duration of the closure.  After the closure, the sponsors will communicate activity or field trip details.  Although the administration has the desire to move forward in planning events for April, May, and June, the realities of the situation may result in substantial disruptions to the end of the year events schedule.  I am encouraging everyone to remain patient and flexible as we receive information and consider scheduling options.  

 

Are athletic teams permitted to practice or clubs permitted to meet?  The school district is promoting social distancing during the duration of the closure.  Coaches, advisors, and students are not permitted on campus during the closure.  Please limit your child(ren)’s interactions outside of the home.  Also, the school district does not support informal athletic practices.  The PIAA has postponed the winter championships and spring athletic until April 6th, 2020.  They will follow the directives from Governor Wolf.    

 

Are teachers permitted on campus?  Teachers are not permitted on campus during the duration of the closure.  The situation could change depending on the circumstances of the situation.  Update: Based on the Secretary of Education’s order to begin continuity of education activities, teachers are determined essential personnel and will be permitted on campus on Tuesday, March 31.  Grade levels and departments will rotate throughout the day to limit the total number of adults on campus.    

 

Will eligible students have access to meals while schools are closed? Yes.  Eligible students will be contacted directly with the details of the limited food services during the closure.  Metz is providing meals to students throughout our school district.  If your child qualifies for the National School Lunch Program and would like to register for the meal distribution program, please email Mary Hartnett (meh@whsd.org) or Tom Mitchell (trm@whsd.org) or call 814-255-6751 to leave a message.

 

Are schools required to provide any type of instruction during the closure of schools due to COVID-19 response effortsThe school district will begin online instruction beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020.  As we receive guidance from the PA Dept. of Education, we will communicate the details of the plan via the school district website.  We understand many of the barriers associated with distance education and we will work to mitigate the issues.  Click here to see the parent letter sent on March 25, 2020.  Please visit your teacher’s website as a starting point. Update: Click here for the Continuity of Education Plan.  

 

Will the school district provide mobile devices or internet access?

The school district will lend families one mobile device and charger for the duration of the school closure.  The distribution will be on Tuesday, March 31 and Thursday, April 2 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm at the Elementary School bus circle.  Free internet can be accessed at a variety of local businesses.  The school district’s signal can be accessed at either location by parking close to the building.  Please stay in your car and follow social distancing guidelines.  Also, Atlantic Broadband is offering internet service to low-income families at no cost for a 15/2Mb connection for 2 months and it’s $9.99/month after that.  This is a residential service and any interested families should contact customer care at 888-536-9600.  Please call Mr. Wilfong (255-8775) or Mr. Aurandt (255-8733) for more information about internet access or to arrange for a mobile device. 

Is Westmont Hilltop required to continue to provide educational services to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by COVID-19 response efforts? When a school is closed because of 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.  Update: During the closure, the school district will make a good-faith effort to meet the needs of all learners.  If you are a parent of a special education student and have a concern, please communicate directly with your child’s case manager or Mrs. Jennifer Butterworth (jmb@whsd.org). 

Is the Pennsylvania Department of Education going to cancel the PSSA or Keystone ExamsThe Secretary of Education announced the PSSA, PASA, and Keystone Exams have been suspended for the 2019-2020 school year.  This is welcomed news.

 

Are mental health services available during the closure?  Individual requests for mental health services can be made to the agency that provides the services.  Also, the school psychologist and social workers are available to students.  Please contact your school’s office to arrange services.

 

How can parents retrieve student medications from the school?  Please call your child’s school office for the correct procedure.

Elementary School Office – 814-255-8707

Jr./Sr. High School Office – 814-255-8726

 

How can students retrieve personal items from the school?  The school district campuses will remain closed.  If there is an opportunity for students to retrieve personal items prior to the end of the school closure, we will make an announcement.   

 

Will the school board continue to meet as scheduled?  The school district will operate a virtual meeting on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 6:00 pm.  Please visit the district website for the correct link.  The meeting was held and a recording of the meeting is available on the school district website.

 

When can we expect more information?  Information is being released daily through the PA Dept. of Education and though our local Intermediate Unit (iu08.org).  New information will be provided to the parent as it becomes available.

 

Where can I find updated information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/

PA DOH: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

PA Dept of Education: https://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Governor Wolf: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/

This is an unprecedented event in our nation.  We appreciate your patience as we work to meet the needs of our students.   

Information compiled by Thomas Mitchell.