MILFORD, PA — With school staff and outside vendors seemingly under a blanket “no comment” order from the school administration, little could be learned of the school closures …
MILFORD, PA — With school staff and outside vendors seemingly under a blanket “no comment” order from the school administration, little could be learned of the school closures driven by bus operators’ COVID-19 exposure or remedies to avoid future cluster cases from staff or vendors. Sixteen drivers were unavailable for work and the Delaware Valley School District declared a snow day on December 7.
Superintendent Dr. John Bell and staff spent “12 hours of triage” on December 7 creating a plan, which included one day of closure for all seven campuses (December 7), then permitting elementary students back to school (December 8 to 10) and from December 13 to 17, high school and middle school students who have access to personal transportation can attend school on campus. Bell said he expects all schools to reopen December 20. Christmas break starts December 23. After-school activities do not seem to have been impacted provided students have transportation to campus.
Further complicating the situation, on Friday, December 10, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the mask mandate issued by PA Acting State Health Secretary Alison Beam in late August, which reversed a mask-optional policy, an action that created three months of debate, acrimony and legal action. The masking guidelines will now revert to the district’s state-required “health and safety plans,” which included optional mask wearing for students, created prior to the emergence of the Delta variant. Gov. Tom Wolf had indicated that he was returning the masking-policy decisions to the local leaders on January 17, 2022.
According to an article in The Tribune-Review, “the arguments are not about masks, but administrative authority. It means the arguments against the mandate were very solidly grounded,” said Duquesne University Law Professor Bruce Ledewitz. Beam had been accused of exceeding her constitutional authority with the masking order.
The shutdown possibility was a central issue in the November school board election and was predicted by the Safety First slate of candidates and some in the school administration.
The DVSD website reports 4,400 students and over 300 staff members. When combined with their families and employers, this shutdown impacted more than 7,000 people.
Students without access to private transportation to school will learn remotely, and miss after-school activities.
Masking policy, and the politics around it, continue to roil what most hoped would be a return to a more normalized school term in 2021-2022.
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