Good evening, Cornwall-Lebanon Families,
This message is an update to the CLSD community regarding our instructional model status. As you are aware, we shifted our high school instructional model to virtual for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this past week. This was intended to be a “circuit breaker,” to deter transmission. However, what we are experiencing is that during times when school is not in session, we have increased numbers of students who become positive. The spread of the virus is occurring outside of school, at gatherings in the community. Due to the mobility and social aspects of being a high school student, we believe that this is why we are seeing the largest number of positive cases in our District amongst high school age students.
The challenge of this in a high school setting is that we are required to direct any students who are close contacts to quarantine, which removes them physically from school. This is obviously disruptive to the teaching and learning process. Thus far, we have not had significant numbers of staff members impacted. Having a large number of staff members affected by COVID 19 is a particular concern for the District. In addition, if a large number of staff members test positive, this could impact our ability to continue to operate – particularly at the high school level.
We recognize that adolescents and young adults are gradually becoming more independent. Therefore, we are continuing to ask for everyone’s cooperation in sound hygiene, mitigation practices, and good judgment. This means that if you are a high school student – we need your help in adhering to these practices.
We have experienced limited cases at our middle school and elementary schools that also have been from community spread of the virus. In our elementary schools, the cases have been more easily isolated, limiting the number of students needing to quarantine, as per state guidelines.
In Cornwall-Lebanon School District, we will first look to shift a classroom, a grade level, or a team to virtual instruction before we would consider shifting an entire school to virtual learning. At this time, we do have one class in the District at the elementary level that has shifted to a virtual instructional model for next week. If you have not been notified prior to this update, it is not your child’s class.
We also recognize that there are unique challenges to families if we have to shift an elementary or middle school to virtual instruction. We know that for many families there are work issues, childcare issues, as well as challenges or even impossibilities related to virtual instruction, not to mention, the psychological impact on students and families. We will make every effort to remain open for in-person learning for these reasons.
Please understand that the information we can release on our District’s COVID-19 dashboard, or in any correspondence, must also protect the confidentiality and privacy of students and families.
Finally, there are many rumors circulating and we are asked regularly if schools are going to be “shut down.” We have not received specific information of any type of shut down being ordered by the Commonwealth. As of today, the communications that we have from the PA Dept. of Education and PA Dept. of Health have told us that decisions regarding instructional models are local decisions. They have made recommendations, but also have acknowledged that their recommendations are not one-size-fits-all for all schools across the Commonwealth. Thus far, this school year, they also have permitted us to operate in ways that best respect and serve the students and families in our community. As a result, Cornwall-Lebanon has continued with extensive mitigation practices while also providing learning options that are in the best interest of our students and families.
Please know that in the event of a mandate from the Governor or Secretary of Health, we would provide notification as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that the District may only receive short notice of a shutdown, or more likely no notice at all. This means that we could be finding out this information at the same time as our students and families. This is what happened in March.
CLSD will continue to make decisions in the best interest of our students and offer alternatives for families that serve them the best way possible.
We appreciate everyone’s cooperation.
Philip Domencic, Superintendent