Area Schools releasing COVID plans

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Area high schools are taking the necessary steps to get student-athletes back on the fields and courts. There have been no school-related sports practices and workouts since March 13 when the state began reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) canceled the spring sports seasons. On June 10 Governor Tom Wolfe released guidelines for restarting sports for areas in the “yellow” and “green” phases. School districts are required to create a detailed health and safety plan which will need approval by their school boards. The plan must also be posted online. Off-season activities can begin when the school boards approve the plans. They will not need approval by the PIAA or the state board of health. Guidelines to start the fall sports seasons have not yet been announced. Elk and McKean counties are currently in the “green phase.”
The Kane and St. Marys school districts have had their plans approved by their boards. According to Athletic Director Aaron Struab, the Elk County Catholic School Board was to vote on the school’s plan last night. Johnsonburg principal Ray Kelly said the district has scheduled a special school board meeting to vote on the school’s plan on June 30. Sandy Walker of the Smethport School District said its board will vote on the school's plan at the July 8 school board meeting. According to a Wednesday release from Ridgway Superintendent Heather McMahon-Vargas the school will submit its plan to the school board for approval on July 14.
The following is a portion of the release from McMahon-Vargas.

“The administration is currently working on health and safety plans related to the re-opening of school on August 27, 2020; student-athlete participation in PIAA athletics pending Board approval on July 14; and extended school year for students eligible for and in need of special education services. The District is currently surveying parents/guardians and staff to identify their needs. It is anticipated that student and adult engagement may begin, pending Board approval of plans on July 14, 2020. The foundation for the District’s health and safety plans, is based on information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDOH), Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Federal/State/Local Government. The plans will be subject to revision based on changing conditions and/or changing guidelines from the authorities listed above. While it is not possible to remove all risks associated with COVID 19; mitigation of risk, with eased restrictions, can help to balance between risk of infection and adverse impact of school closure. These plans will outline RASD’s mitigation of risks. The administration will regularly review all local and state public health information, state and federal orders, PDE mandates and recommendations, CDC/WHO guidance, and state health department guidance and provide the staff with the necessary recommendations and directives to ensure health, safety and welfare of all. The plans will be fluid. Everyone can assist with ensuring the health and safety of our community when athletics and school resumes, by following the CDC guidelines which include practicing good hygiene (hand washing), maintaining a social distance of 6ft, wearing a face covering when a social distance cannot be maintained and staying home when you are sick.”

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