COVID UPDATES

COVID UPDATES
Posted on 04/09/2021

COVID updates

The following information regarding COVID-19 cases in Middletown Area School District has been communicated to parents/guardians via email based on the email addresses that parents/guardians have entered in SchoolMessenger and also by phone call and text when deemed necessary. This page will host a running list of all COVID communications during the 2020-21 school year.

14-day rolling window of positive cases as of April 9, 2021:
Please note that the count does not include people who tested positive while not in school during their infectious period. When a school is cleared to reopen, its case count returns to zero.

**The COVID chart reset to zero for all schools on April 6, 2021 due the buildings being closed for spring recess from April 1 – 5. Please note that positive cases identified over the break are not reflected in building case counts if students were not in school while infectious.**

covid cases


Friday, April 9, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

Two weeks ago I communicated the possibility of a return to full in-person learning on April 12, 2021, but stated that it was contingent upon the community transmission levels of COVID-19 in Dauphin County. I regret to inform you that over the past two weeks, Dauphin County returned to the “substantial” level of community transmission, after spending only one week at the “moderate” level. Therefore, during the School Board meeting earlier this week, I announced that the administration would not be recommending a return five days per week until such time that Dauphin County returns to at least a “moderate” level of transmission for two consecutive weeks. As long as Dauphin County remain in “substantial,” we must continue to follow the requirements of the attestation. The District continues to monitor the county data weekly with the hope that we will still be able to transition back to a full return in the coming weeks before the school year ends.

Meanwhile, the PA Departments of Education and Health (PDE/DOH) recently issued two, new updated guidance documents. The following health and safety recommendations are in effect as of our return to school on April 6:

Updated Social Distancing Recommendations

1. In alignment with CDC recommendations, PDE/DOH revised its social distancing recommendations in classrooms and other instructional spaces.

  • In elementary schools, students should be at least 3 feet apart, regardless of the community transmission level.
  • In middle and high schools, students should be at least 3 feet apart in areas of “low” and “moderate” community transmission. In areas of “substantial” community transmission (such as Dauphin County), middle and high school students should be 6 feet apart to the maximum extent feasible, if cohorting is not possible.
  • In all settings outside of the classroom, 6 feet of social distance remains the recommended social distance between people from different households, especially in situations when masks are removed for eating/drinking.

2. Regardless of the distance between students and/or adults, the definition of close contacts does not change. Close contacts are still considered to be individuals who have been exposed (within 6 feet for at least 15 consecutive minutes) to someone who has been identified as a positive case.

Updated Recommendations on Handling COVID-19 Cases in Schools

When a positive case of COVID-19 is identified in a school, the length of time for a school closure has been reduced. Effective this week, MASD will follow these recommendations:

1. Small schools (less than 500 students) – applies to Fink, Kunkel and Reid Elementary Schools while Dauphin County is in SUBSTANTIAL:

  • Schools will close for 2 – 3 calendar days instead of the previous 3 – 7 calendar days when 2 – 4 students/staff in the same building have been identified as positive cases in a 14-day rolling window.
  • Schools will close for 5 calendar days instead of the previous 14 days when 5+ students/staff in the same building have been identified as positive cases in a 14-day rolling window.

2.  Medium schools (500 – 900 students) – applies to MAMS and the High School while Dauphin County is in SUBSTANTIAL:

  • Schools will close for 2 – 3 calendar days instead of the previous 3 – 7 days when 4 - 6 students/staff in the same building have been identified as positive cases in a 14-day rolling window.
  • Schools will close for 5 calendar days instead of the previous 14 days when 7+ students/staff in the same building have been identified as positive cases in a 14-day rolling window.

This week PDE announced new instructional model recommendations that go into effect on Monday, April 12, 2021:

  • The guidelines are based on each county’s level of community transmission of COVID-19.
  • The significant change is that schools districts in counties with MODERATE transmission rates are recommended to use Full In-Person Learning and Blended Learning models, while school districts in counties with SUBSTANTIAL transmission rates are recommended to use the Blended Learning model or Full Remote model.

Although Dauphin County continues to see SUBSTANTIAL rates of transmission, we will continue with our existing instructional models with all elementary students attending school 5 days per week, and all middle and high school students continuing with their respective Cohorts A and/or B. MAMS and HS students will continue to have virtual Wednesdays. Elementary students will have an early dismissal on Wednesday, April 21 for teacher preparation/planning. Principals or school counselors will be contacting parents of students who are failing in Grades 6 – 12 as of the end of the third marking period to encourage their return four days per week at MAMS and the HS, if they were previously attending only two days in person.

The parent survey (with a 50% return rate) indicated that 70% of respondents prefer to return to full in-person learning 5 days per week. As soon as Dauphin County returns to MODERATE for two consecutive weeks, we will re-evaluate again and attempt to bring back our secondary students. Please watch for further updates in the coming weeks.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support, and as always, contact me with any questions or concerns at lsuski@raiderweb.org.

Have a nice weekend!

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

Today the District was notified of two (2) confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 involving students at Middletown Area Middle School (MAMS). This brings the total case count to three (3) individuals in the same building who have tested positive in the 14-day rolling window. Dauphin County is now in the “moderate” level of community transmission, which means we are required to close the building for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that MAMS will be closed on Friday, March 26 through Sunday, March 28 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. MAMS students will learn online on Friday, March 26. The Middle School will reopen on Monday, March 29, 2021 (Cohort A). Any student or staff member who is identified as a close contact to either positive case has been notified by the building administration of the need to quarantine for 14 days.

Middle School spring sports practices scheduled for these days will be held outdoors. Since MAMS locker rooms will not be accessible, students should come dressed for practice. Portable toilets are on site for use during practice.

Sincerely,
Dr. Lori A. Suski, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

I hope this communication finds everyone enjoying the recent spring weather, despite the rain today. There are several important announcements pertaining to COVID-19 to share with you today:

  • The District was notified today of two (2) confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 involving staff at Kunkel Elementary School. Dauphin County is now in the “moderate” level of community transmission, which means we are required to close the building for 3 – 5 calendar days. Please be advised that Kunkel Elementary School will be closed Thursday & Friday, March 25 – 26 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. Kunkel students will learn online Thursday and Friday, March 25 - 26, 2021. Kunkel will reopen on Monday, March 29, 2021. Any student or staff member who is identified as a close contact to either positive case has been notified by the administration of the need to quarantine for 14 days.
  • Over the past few weeks there have been several factors impacting proposals to move toward a full return to school for the last several weeks of the 2020-21 school year: 1) The COVID-19 vaccine has been made available to all employees of Middletown Area SD and contracted service providers who work with our students, with over 200 employees/contractors vaccinated; 2) Dauphin County has finally transitioned from the “substantial” level to the “moderate” level of community transmission of COVID-19 for the first time since early November 2020; 3) The CDC has recently released new guidance reducing recommended social distancing from 6 feet down to 3 feet in classrooms. In light of these factors, I will be recommending to the School Board for their approval at the April 6th Board meeting that we invite all K-12 students back to school the week of April 12, 2021. All stakeholders have worked so hard since school began to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to the approved health and safety plan, especially as it pertains to universal masking, social distancing and handwashing. These precautions must continue for the foreseeable future and have become part of the “new normal” over the past 12 months. However, bringing our students fully back to school is something we believe is in their best interest. Being with peers, getting back into a routine of daily in-person schooling, receiving more academic supports, and the ability to engage in school activities will help our students to finish the year strong. We also want to try to end this school year with as many traditional, albeit modified, activities as possible, including spring concerts, spring musical, field days, honors night, prom, transfer and graduation. Our administrative team is working hard to develop plans for how we can provide these experiences for our students and their families while keeping everyone healthy and safe. As plans are released in the coming days/weeks, we ask for your support. In order for the District to plan for the appropriate number of desks in classrooms to accommodate a full return while retaining 3 feet of social distance between students (and 6 feet of social distance during lunch), we need to know parents’ intentions regarding their child’s full return. Please look for a brief survey to be released tomorrow along with additional information that will answer questions you may have.

It has been a very challenging year for everyone involved, and we continue to balance health and safety with a desire to return to some level of normalcy as we close out the 2020-21 school year. With your continued patience and assistance, we believe that is possible. For those parents who are not comfortable with a full return at this time, the information released tomorrow will provide you with a few options for the remainder of the year. Please watch for the brief survey tomorrow evening. If you have any questions that need an immediate response, feel free to contact me at lsuski@raiderweb.org.

Happy Spring!

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

Today the District was notified of two (2) newly confirmed positive COVID-19 cases at Middletown Area Middle School (MAMS). This brings the total case count to two (2) students in the same building who have tested positive in the 14-day rolling window. Since Dauphin County remains in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the decision matrix we are required to follow recommends that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that MAMS will be closed for the remainder of this week (March 10 – 12) to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. Since tomorrow is a scheduled virtual learning day for secondary students, Middle School students will follow their usual virtual Wednesday schedule on March 10, 2021. Middle School students will also learn remotely on Thursday and Friday, March 11 & 12, following their full synchronous learning schedule. MAMS will reopen for in-person learning on Monday, March 15, 2021.

As we begin the contact tracing process, any student or staff member who is identified to have been within 6 feet of the infected person for 15+ minutes will be notified via a separate communication later today or tomorrow of the need to quarantine for 14 days.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools 


Monday, February 15, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

Over the weekend the District was notified of a second confirmed positive COVID-19 case at Middletown Area High School (HS). This brings the total case count to two (2) students in the same building who have tested positive in the past week. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the decision matrix we are required to follow indicates that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that the High School will be closed today through Wednesday, February 17 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. High School students will learn online Tuesday and Wednesday, February 16 and 17, 2021. The High School will reopen on Thursday, February 18, 2021 (Cohort A).

Any student or staff member who is identified as a close contact to either positive case has been notified by the administration of the need to quarantine for 14 days.

As of this time, all other MASD schools will be open for school on Tuesday, February 16. However, with impending inclement weather in the forecast, please watch for additional communications about any weather-related delays or closures.

Have a good Monday,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent to alert you to two important announcements:

1. All MASD schools will be 100% virtual instruction on Monday, February 1, 2021 due to inclement weather. MASD will follow a synchronous learning model in the morning and an asynchronous learning model in the afternoon for all K-12 students. This means that all K-12 students are expected to log on at the beginning of their school day and attend their classes remotely in the morning. Then in the afternoon, students will have the opportunity to catch up on any outstanding work, complete any assignments, or get additional assistance from teachers in areas where they may be struggling academically. This asynchronous time will allow students, staff (and parents) to have more flexibility and not be on Zoom the entire day.

2. Today the District was notified of a second confirmed positive COVID-19 case at Middletown Area High School (HS). This brings the total case count to two (2) individuals in the same building who have tested positive in the past week. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the decision matrix we are required to follow recommends that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that High School will be closed on Monday, February 1 through Wednesday, February 3 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. The High School will reopen on Thursday, February 4, 2021 (Cohort A). Any student or staff member who is identified as a close contact to either positive case has been notified by the administration of the need to quarantine for 14 days.

Thank you and have a good evening.

Middletown Area School District


Friday, January 29, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

Today the District was notified of a second confirmed positive COVID-19 case at Middletown Area Middle School (MAMS). This brings the total case count to two (2) individuals in the same building who have tested positive this week. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the decision matrix we are required to follow recommends that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that MAMS will be closed on Monday, February 1 through Wednesday, February 3 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. MAMS students will learn online on Monday and Tuesday as well as the scheduled virtual day on Wednesday. The Middle School will reopen on Thursday, February 4, 2021 (Cohort A).

Any student or staff member who is identified as a close contact to either positive case has been notified by the building administration of the need to quarantine for 14 days.
As of this time, all other MASD schools will be open for school on Monday, February 1. However, with impending inclement weather in the forecast, please watch for additional communication on Sunday evening or Monday morning about any weather-related delays or closures.

Have a good weekend!

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan. 

Today the District was notified of a second confirmed positive COVID-19 case involving a Kunkel Elementary School employee. This brings the total case count to two (2) employees in the same building who have tested positive this week. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the decision matrix we are required to follow recommends that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that Kunkel Elementary School will be closed for the remainder of this week to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. Since tomorrow is a scheduled early dismissal for elementary schools, Kunkel students will learn online on Thursday, January 28, 2021 from 9:00-11:55 a.m. according to their teacher’s Zoom schedule. Kunkel Elementary School will reopen on Monday, February 1, 2021.

As we begin the contact tracing process, any student or staff member who is identified to have been within 6 feet of the infected person for 15+ minutes on Monday, January 25 (the date the employee became symptomatic) will be notified via a separate communication later this evening or tomorrow of the need to quarantine for 14 days.

As of this time, all other MASD schools will be open for school tomorrow. However, should additional positive cases be identified in other buildings, additional notifications will be released to keep all MASD parents informed of any other potential closures.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times.

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan. 

Today the District was notified of two (2) confirmed positive COVID-19 cases at Reid Elementary School involving siblings who reside in the same household. Parents of students in the two affected classrooms were contacted earlier this afternoon to inform them of the need for their children to quarantine for 14 days. If you were not contacted by the Reid principal or school nurse today, your child does not need to quarantine.

Based on previous guidance from the PA Department of Health (DOH), communicated to parents in a School Messenger email on December 2, 2020, two cases in the same household would not require a building to close. However, late this afternoon when reporting these cases to the PA Department of Health (DOH), I asked for confirmation that this guidance is still in effect since we know that things are constantly evolving. I received a call this evening from DOH stating that the guidance changed on Monday, and now two cases in the same household in the same school must be counted as two confirmed cases (and not as one which was the case at Kunkel back in December). Unfortunately, DOH has not yet communicated this change to school districts, so I apologize for the late notice, but I am glad I asked the question!

Since Dauphin County remains in the “substantial” level of community transmission, and to abide by the attestation signed in November, I am required to close Reid Elementary School for for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that Reid Elementary School will be 100% remote for the remainder of this week to provide adequate time for building cleaning and sanitization. Reid students will learn online Thursday and Friday, January 14 and 15, 2021. Reid Elementary School will reopen to staff on Monday, January 18 for staff development and to students for in-person instruction on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

14-day rolling window of positive cases as of Wednesday, January 13:
covid cases

As of this time, only MAMS and Reid are closed to in-person instruction. All other MASD schools will be open for school tomorrow and Friday. However, should additional positive cases be identified in other buildings, further notifications will be released to keep all MASD parents informed of any other closures.

Have a good evening,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Monday, January 11, 2021

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

Happy new year! We hope that everyone had an enjoyable, healthy holiday season! Returning from the winter break last week, we saw a number of students and employees who needed to quarantine due to exposure to positive cases or isolate due to testing positive for COVID-19 over the holidays. The good news is that those positive cases did not impact our building case counts since those individuals were not in school during their infectious period. The bad news is that today we learned of some new confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, and unfortunately, these do impact our building totals since those individuals were in school late last week, prior to becoming symptomatic, but during the time that they were unknowingly infectious. Following the attestation order that was signed in November 2020, since Dauphin County remains in the “substantial” level of community transmission, MASD is required to abide by the recommendations for school closure when more than one positive case is identified in the same building within a 14-day rolling window.

This afternoon the District was notified of a second confirmed positive COVID-19 case at Middletown Area Middle School (MAMS). The first case was identified on Friday, and contact tracing was already done for that situation and the case count totals chart was updated to reflect that case on January 8. Now that a second confirmed positive case has been identified within the same school, it is necessary to close MAMS for a period of 3 – 7 calendar days, per the attestation order. Therefore, please be advised that MAMS will be 100% remote synchronous instruction beginning Tuesday, January 12 through Thursday, January 14 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing for this second case. Middle School students will learn fully online for the next three (3) school days with no in-person instruction. Please note that Wednesday afternoon will be asynchronous as it typically is on Wednesday afternoons. As of this time, we plan to reopen MAMS on Friday, January 15; however, should circumstances warrant closure beyond three (3) days, we will follow up with parents to keep them informed.

Anyone who is identified to have been within 6 feet of the infected person for 15+ minutes on January 6 - 8 will be notified via a separate email or phone communication on Tuesday, January 12 and asked to quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure to the individual.

As of this time, only the Middle School will be remote on Tuesday, January 12 – Thursday, January 14, 2021. Only MAMS extra-curricular activities are cancelled for January 12 – 14. All other MASD schools remain open for in-person learning and extra-curricular activities will continue as scheduled. However, should anything change, we will keep you updated.

This communication is also an opportunity to explain that the latest guidance that was issued jointly last week from the PA Department of Health and the PA Department of Education regarding elementary students returning to in-person instruction in the second semester of the school year has no impact on MASD since we have been doing full in-person instruction at the elementary level since school began in August. The recommendation contained within that guidance suggested that secondary schools should continue to be full remote. Since MASD has continued to operate effectively with a cohort/hybrid model at the secondary level since August 2020, and we have been quite successful in mitigating the virus with few closures needed overall, the School Board has continued to support the Administration’s recommendation to maintain status quo with the instructional models we currently have in place. Thus, we are maintaining our current instructional models as we have since the beginning of the school year and will continue to address cases as situations arise. With that said, we gently remind parents to keep students home if they are symptomatic or have had direct exposure to a known positive case of COVID-19. By working together, we can do our best to continue to mitigate the viral spread in our schools and keep schools open for in-person learning as much as possible.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Monday, December 14, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

Positive COVID-19 case count as of Monday, December 14 (14-day rolling window):
covid cases

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

The District was notified today of another confirmed positive COVID-19 case at Fink Elementary School. This brings the total case count to two (2) employees in the same building who have tested positive within the rolling 14-day window. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission and MASD has signed an attestation to abide by the recommendations for school closure when more than one positive case is identified in the same building within a rolling 14-day window, the school will need to close for 3 – 7 calendar days.

Please be advised that Fink Elementary School will be 100% remote beginning Tuesday, December 15 through Thursday, December 17 to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. Fink students will learn fully online for the next three (3) school days with no in-person instruction. As of this time, we plan to reopen Fink Elementary School on Friday, December 18; however, should circumstances warrant closure beyond three (3) days, we will follow up with parents to keep them informed.

The District has begun the process of contact tracing in conjunction with the PA Department of Health. Anyone who is identified to have been within 6 feet of the infected person for 15+ minutes on December 7 – 11 will be notified via a separate email or phone communication on Tuesday, December 15 and asked to quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure to the individual.

As of this time, only Kunkel and Fink will be remote on Tuesday, December 15. All other MASD schools remain open for in-person learning. However, should anything change, we will keep you updated.

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent to notify you of several important updates affecting MASD schools this week. Please read this information carefully as it pertains to a building closure, the weather forecast for mid-week, and the impact of the new COVID-19 restrictions that went into effect across the Commonwealth on Saturday morning:

Positive case count as of Sunday, December 13:
covid cases

1. As a result of another identified case of COVID-19 at Kunkel Elementary School, that building will remain closed Monday, December 14 through Wednesday, December 16 so that the PA Department of Health can work with the District on contact tracing and our Operations Department can perform additional cleaning and sanitization. A separate notification will be sent later today to the parents of any students who may have been a close contact of the infected student. All Kunkel students will continue with 100% remote learning for the next three school days. The building will reopen to students and teachers on Thursday, December 17, 2020.

2. The National Weather Service is predicting a significant snow event on Wednesday, December 16. Therefore, this is a good time to explain how inclement weather days will be handled for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. For this school year only, as a result of the School Board approving the Instructional Time template under Section 520.1 of the PA School Code, the District is able to allow students to learn remotely on snow days without having to make those days up at a later date. That is why there are no snow make-up days listed on this year’s academic calendar. To that end, should the weather forecast be accurate, there is a strong probability that Wednesday, December 16 will be a remote learning day for ALL MASD students – not just the middle and high school students as is the case every Wednesday. Elementary parents are aware that an early dismissal was already planned for the afternoon of December 16. In light of the impending weather forecast, that will most likely not occur, but as we know, forecasts are not always accurate, so be alert for messages as new information becomes available. For future reference, and beginning with this week’s potential “snow day,” MASD will follow a synchronous learning model in the morning and an asynchronous learning model in the afternoon on days when schools are closed to in-person instruction due to inclement weather. This means that all K-12 students are expected to log on at the beginning of their school day and attend their classes remotely in the morning. Then in the afternoon, students will have the opportunity to do independent work. The asynchronous activities will have an extended time period so that students can balance enjoying the snow with completing whatever tasks are assigned by teachers. The administration hopes that this balance will assist everyone involved when weather presents a multitude of challenges for employees and families. Please stay tuned for a School Messenger phone call, text and email confirming a “remote learning day” if weather becomes an issue on Wednesday.

3. Lastly, the updated COVID-19 restrictions announced by the Governor’s Office late last week went into effect on Saturday at 12:01 a.m. These restrictions do not impact in-person instruction; however, unfortunately, they temporarily suspend all extra-curricular activities until January 4, 2021. The first impact this decision had was on the High School fall play which was set to occur this weekend remotely. However, since the performers would have been “live” the show had to be postponed to January. The website was updated with those details on Friday. The other major impact of the new restrictions is that no PIAA sports practices, scrimmages, voluntary workouts or competitions can be held until at least January 4, 2021. Athletic Director Rich Reed notified all coaches of this announcement late last week who notified our student athletes.

In closing, we deeply appreciate everyone’s flexibility, patience and cooperation as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force everyone to make adjustments daily. Most importantly, if your child is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and is getting tested, please notify your child’s school so that we can monitor the situation carefully and use accurate case count data to inform our decision-making regarding school closures.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

At 4:10 p.m. today, the District was notified of another confirmed positive COVID-19 case involving a Kunkel Elementary School employee. This brings the total case count to two (2) employees in the same building who have tested positive within the rolling 14-day window. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the new decision matrix we are required to follow recommends that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Please be advised that Kunkel Elementary School will be 100% remote for the remainder of this week to provide adequate time for building cleaning, sanitization and contact tracing. Kunkel students will learn online Thursday and Friday, December 10 and 11. Kunkel Elementary School will reopen on Monday, December 14.

14-day rolling window of positive cases as of Wednesday, December 9:

FINK KUNKEL REID  MAMS  MAHS  DISTRICT OFFICE  OPERATIONS 
 1  2  0  0




The affected employee does not have direct contact with students; therefore, at this time, we are not aware of the need for any students at Kunkel to quarantine.
As we begin the contact tracing process, anyone who is identified to have been within 6 feet of the infected person for 15+ minutes on Monday, December 7 will be notified via a separate communication later this evening or tomorrow.

As of this time, all other MASD schools will be open for school tomorrow and Friday. However, should additional positive cases be identified in other buildings, additional notifications will be released to keep all MASD parents informed of any other potential closures.

Have a good evening,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is being sent to all K-12 parents for informational purposes only due to a COVID-19 related matter. The parents of the affected students in one classroom at Fink Elementary School have already been notified via telephone today and sent home from school early. If you were not personally notified, then your child is not impacted by the details below:

Earlier today the District received notification of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 involving an employee at Fink Elementary School. The PA Department of Health was notified and has advised that only the students and other staff members in that particular classroom who meet the criteria to be considered a “close contact” quarantine for 14 days from the date of last exposure to the infected employee. Parents of those students have already been notified by Principal Marie Drazenovich and sent home to quarantine for 14 days from the date of the last exposure to the infected person (in this case, December 4 – 18). Their classroom teacher will teach them remotely during the quarantine period, and they are able to return to Fink Elementary School in-person on Monday, December 21, 2020.

Per the guidelines that MASD has attested to follow, closure of a building would occur only when the following case count criteria are met so that cleaning, sanitizing and contact tracing can be completed. This threshold applies to MASD schools when Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission and includes both student and employee positive cases:

  • 2 – 4 positive cases in the same building = Close school for 3 – 7 days
  • 5 or more positive cases in the same building = Close school for 14 days

Each day from this point forward, the District will update the following chart to keep everyone informed as to the active case count within that 14-day rolling window. The chart will be posted to the District website.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
12.8.20 tally
*Please note that per the PDE guidelines, after a school has been shut down for a period of days as indicated above, the count resets to zero (0) when the building reopens.

Additionally, superintendents have received further explanation from the PA Department of Education since my last communication on Sunday that may be helpful to share with parents:

  • When a student is a full remote learner and tests positive, their case does not get counted in the 14-day rolling window.
  • Likewise, a student or employee who has not been physically present in the building at all during their infectious period is also not counted in the 14-day rolling window.
  • Contracted service providers who are not District employees do not get counted in the 14-day rolling window.
  • When an infected student’s or employee’s isolation period has expired, that active case is dropped from the 14-day rolling window.

I also want to update you on the District’s position regarding the PA Department of Health updated guidance taken from the CDC regarding the length of quarantines. This guidance provides an “alternative option” to reduce the length of quarantine from 14 days to 10 days if a person is not tested and is asymptomatic. After extensive dialogue with the MASD physician, certified school nurses, and a public health nurse with the DOH, MASD will continue to abide by the 14-day quarantine for those who have been in direct contact with people who test positive for COVID-19. Our team believes that this is the best approach to keep staff and students safe and mitigate COVID-19 risk in our schools. We understand that 14 days is a long time to be away from school or work, but CDC has also said that it is still the recommended length of quarantine to reduce risk of further transmission of COVID, and for that reason, we do not support reducing the quarantine while Dauphin County is still in the “substantial” level of community transmission of COVID-19.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not share with parents that at some point, it may be necessary to close a school due to insufficient staffing. There are several employees quarantining due to exposures to positive cases both in and outside of the school setting. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find substitute coverage. Therefore, please understand that it may be necessary to close a building on short notice. If we know the night before, we will certainly announce that. However, we may not know until that morning, in which case we will do everything possible to notify you at 5:30 a.m. as we would on a day when inclement weather forces a delayed opening or school closure. I am trying my best to remain optimistic as I believe that school is the best and safest place for our students to be each day, but there is only so much we can control right now.

Thank you, as always, for your cooperation and support as we work together to keep our schools safely open.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is being sent to all K-12 parents for informational purposes only due to a COVID-19 related matter. The parents of the affected students in one classroom at Kunkel Elementary School have already been notified via telephone, text and email today. If you have not been notified, then your child is not impacted by the details below:

This morning the District received notification of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 involving an employee at Kunkel Elementary School. The PA Department of Health was notified and has advised that only the students in that particular classroom quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure to the employee. Parents of those students have already been notified via a separate communication this afternoon. Their classroom teacher will teach them remotely during the quarantine period.
Below is the current positive case counts in MASD as of noon on Sunday, December 6, 2020. You may recall that Kunkel had one (1) positive case count when the 14-day window opened. Fortunately, that person’s infectious period has ended and that case is no longer considered active; therefore, the count was reset to zero and today’s case returns Kunkel to one (1) active case in the past 14-day rolling window. That means there is no need to close the entire Kunkel building at this time. However, please note, per the communication Friday night, that Reid Elementary School is closed on Monday, December 7, 2020, due to two (2) active cases and the need to do additional cleaning, sanitizing and contact tracing for the confirmed positive case identified on Friday after school. Reid will reopen on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. All other MASD schools remain open at this time.

Covid cases 12/6

I also want to take this opportunity to share that the District is seeing an increase in situations in which teachers and students are needing to quarantine due to confirmed positive cases among family members living in their households. We appreciate everyone’s diligence in contacting their building principal if their child or a member of their household has tested positive or has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive. That information is critical in assisting the District with vetting who may be required to quarantine, depending on the facts of the potential exposure. With your continued assistance and support, we will remain vigilant in keeping MASD healthy and safe during a time where positive cases of COVID-19 are on the rise across the Commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Friday, December 4, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

The District has received notification of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 at Reid Elementary School. This brings the total case count to two (2) students in the same building who have tested positive within the rolling 14-day window. Since Dauphin County is in the “substantial” level of community transmission, the new decision matrix we are required to follow recommends that the school be closed for 3 – 7 calendar days. Since the first case was not in the building at all since before Thanksgiving break, as shared in my email on Wednesday, and this new positive case is isolated to only one classroom of students, please be advised that Reid Elementary School will be closed only on Monday, December 7 since the weekend days count toward the closure. All Reid Elementary students will be 100% remote on Monday, December 7. The building will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected over the next three calendar days. Reid Elementary School will reopen on Tuesday, December 8.

A separate letter was sent out this evening via School Messenger email to parents of students who attended class with the positive case on either December 1 and/or 2. Only those students should quarantine until December 15 or 16 (depending upon the date of last exposure to the positive case). Staff from the PA Department of Health will follow up with those families next week, but the District felt it was important to notify the parents of those students as soon as possible to avoid them possibly spreading the virus to others over the weekend.

As of this time, all other MASD schools will be open for school on Monday, December 7. However, should additional positive cases be identified in other buildings over the weekend, additional notifications will be released to keep all MASD parents informed of any other potential closures.

Thank you for your cooperation as we work together to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.

Have a good weekend,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent to notify you of the status of the District relative to identified cases of COVID-19 in our schools and to provide some additional explanations in light of further guidance that school districts have received from the PA Department of Education after the PA Department of Health released its new/updated orders. I apologize in advance for the length of this letter but hope you find this information to be helpful as we continue to work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community.

As stated in last week’s email, MASD filed its attestation form with the PA Department of Education on November 30, which allows the District to continue its current instructional delivery model of in-person learning, provided that we continue to follow the universal face covering order and the recommendations for K-12 schools upon identification of a case of COVID-19.

What is the process used in MASD when a case of COVID-19 is identified?
When a case of COVID-19 is identified, the District consults with public health staff at the PA Department of Health who review the facts of each case and advise the District related to quarantine recommendations, contact tracing, and cleaning/disinfection. It is important to note that every situation is unique, and therefore, every decision is based on the facts of that particular case. A large part of the mitigation effort is contact tracing. This takes time to determine as quickly as possible who may need to quarantine. To help everyone gain a better understanding of what is involved, I am going to utilize four actual MASD situations that we have learned of over the past couple of days to illustrate how these matters are addressed. The first is a situation we were apprised of on Monday that impacts athletics. The second is the identification of a positive COVID case at Kunkel, the third is a positive COVID case at MAMS, and the fourth is a positive COVID case at Reid. The most challenging part of handling COVID has been the need to balance my desire for transparent communication with the need to protect the privacy of students and employees. A level of trust is necessary since the District is not at liberty to disclose the names of infected individuals. However, what we can and will continue to do is to provide you updates when new information becomes available.

Situation #1 - Athletics
The District was notified on Monday of a positive COVID-19 case involving a student athlete who tried out for an athletics team in MASD the weekend of November 20-21. Through contact tracing, the District was able to determine a list of student athletes who were within 6 feet of this positive case for 15+ minutes 48 hours before the student athlete tested positive (Note: The date the test is taken is the date used to contact-trace back 48 hours). According to the PA Department of Health, it is necessary that those student athletes quarantine for 14 days from the date of last exposure to the infected party as they are considered to be “close contacts.” Athletic Director Rich Reed notified the parents of those student athletes whose names were provided to him by the coach. On Monday evening, as word traveled, legitimate questions were raised as to why it would be necessary for one student athlete to quarantine, yet a sibling of that student athlete residing in the same home was not on the list to quarantine. The reason is that if the sibling was not in direct contact with the positive case (defined as within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes), then s/he is considered to be a “contact of a contact”, and thus, not required to quarantine unless the quarantined individual were to become symptomatic and/or receive a positive test result for COVID-19.

I heard on the news last night that the CDC is changing its guidelines to reduce the length of quarantine from 14 days to 7 – 10 days. Why must my student athlete continue to quarantine for 14 days?
This is another great question! We were told that the PA Department of Health would be reviewing the latest updated guidance from the CDC. Until new requirements are released by PA DOH, we are required to continue to enforce the 14-day quarantine for close contacts. Should the PA DOH decide to adopt the CDC’s latest guidance, we will be sure to let you know.

Situation #2 – Kunkel
The District was notified on Monday of a positive COVID-19 test result involving a student and employee within the same family. In conversations with the PA Department of Health, who referred this case directly to an epidemiologist with whom I directly spoke yesterday, this case is considered to be one case (not two) because of the family linkage. The epidemiologist who reviewed the facts in this case determined that there was no risk of exposure to students or staff based on the timing of the positive test result in relation to the Thanksgiving holiday break and the fact that the individuals were not within 6 feet of anyone in the school for 15+ minutes. Therefore, I was advised that no one at Kunkel needed to quarantine and there was no need to close the school.

Situation #3 – MAMS
This afternoon the District was notified of a positive COVID-19 test result involving an employee at MAMS who has not been physically in the building since November 23. Employees and a student who were within 6 feet of this individual on November 23 for 15+ minutes were isolated and sent home to quarantine. Due to a lack of staffing in that particular classroom, parents of those students impacted were notified this afternoon by Director of Special Education Krystal Palmer that they will be 100% remote through December 7.

Situation #4 – Reid
The District learned that a student’s parent tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. The student was required to quarantine for 14 days from the date the parent took the test. Two days later, the parent notified the District that the student also tested positive for COVID-19. The 14-day quarantine now becomes a 10-day isolation for the infected student. Since the student was not in school for 48 hours prior to taking the test, there is no risk of exposure to anyone at Reid and no need for anyone to quarantine. However, the District must count this student’s case toward its overall case count as part of the new 14-day rolling window that began on November 30.

So when will it be necessary to close a school and how many positive cases are required for that to happen?
As stated in my email last week, I will not hesitate to close a classroom, school building or the entire District if the case counts warrant such action. Moreover, the new recommendations for K-12 schools following identification of cases of COVID-19 must be followed per the attestation that I signed on November 30. While Dauphin County remains in the substantial level of community transmission of COVID-19, this means that any number of cases exceeding one (1) per building will trigger a recommended closure for small schools (population of 500 or less students). Due to the cohort/hybrid model, all MASD schools are defined as “small schools” for purposes of this guidance. The guidance utilizes a 14-day rolling window in determining the total case count per building. The 14-day rolling window begins when the first confirmed case becomes symptomatic. Here is the real-time data for today:
November 18 – December 2, 2020 (14-day window)
14 day data



One (1) case in a building does not require a school to close. However, 2 – 4 cases of COVID-19 among staff or students in a building within a rolling 14-day period will result in me closing the school for 3 – 7 days. Case counts of 5+ in a building will cause me to close a school for 14 days. The purpose of the closure is to thoroughly clean and sanitize the areas where the cases spent time in the building, and to allow the District and the PA Department of Health to direct close contacts to quarantine. The length of closure may be shortened if those tasks can be completed in a faster time period. The decision to close the schools rests with the Superintendent of Schools; however, by signing the attestation, I have agreed to follow these recommendations and fully intend to do so. If/when it becomes necessary to close a school, students and teachers will pivot to remote learning for the period of the closure. When school reopens, the 14-day rolling window is reset to zero (0) and the tracking begins anew.

Hopefully, these explanations are helpful in developing a greater understanding of the complexities surrounding the management of COVID-19 in a school district. Please know that we are doing our very best to provide a safe environment for your children and our employees. The School Board and Administration feel strongly that students benefit the most from in-person instruction; therefore, we have signed the attestation form stating that we will comply with these recommendations listed above, along with the continued expectation that face coverings be worn at all times except during lunch and during scheduled mask breaks.

With the holiday season upon us, it is natural that everyone will want to visit with relatives, go out with friends, and enjoy the many wonderful traditions that we all look forward to annually. Please be mindful of the fact that choices made to attend events and/or travel out of the state do have unintended consequences, and as case counts continue to climb around us, we may have no choice but to close schools per the directives above. Please also remember that anyone who is not comfortable sending their child to school during this recent surge in cases may take advantage of the 100% full remote learning opportunity K-12 or the asynchronous cyber program available through Raider Academy. We will continue to work hard to mitigate the virus in our schools to allow in-person instruction to continue in its existing model(s).

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly at lsuski@raiderweb.org. I will be happy to address your specific questions or concerns as soon as possible.

Have a pleasant evening,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

The intent of this communication is to update you on three (3) items associated with our MASD Health & Safety Plan:

1.  This week we were notified of a positive COVID-19 test result for an employee at the High School. The PA Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that there is no exposure risk for students or employees since the infected person was not in school 48 hours before becoming symptomatic and has not been in school at all since the week before last. However, per our Health & Safety Plan, the classroom was cleaned and sanitized accordingly.

2.  As you are aware from my communication on Friday, November 20, PA Secretary of Health Levine issued an updated order regarding universal face coverings last week. As stated in my prior email, the School District was awaiting further guidance from the PA Department of Education (PDE) relative to this order, which was received yesterday. After thorough review of both the updated order and the PDE guidance, the following changes will take effect on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 when we return to school following the Thanksgiving holiday recess:

  •  All students and employees will continue to wear face coverings. “Face covering” has now been defined in the new order as “covering of the nose and mouth with material that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face. A face covering can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk or linen. A face covering can be factory-made, sewn by hand.” 
  • Face shields, although a popular alternative to a face mask, will no longer be considered an acceptable face covering in school unless a student or employee meets one of the following exceptions under Section 3 in the amended order: If wearing a face mask would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing; a mental health condition; or a disability.
  • Face shields will no longer be accepted in MASD schools as an alternative face covering without medical documentation that is provided, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or IDEA, of such medical or mental health condition or disability. The District has been very accommodating in allowing any student to choose to wear a shield as an alternative to a mask since August; however, the updated order is now very specific about exceptions to wearing a mask. If your child meets the criteria above, please submit the appropriate documentation to your child’s building principal next week. Please note that all alternatives to wearing a face covering, including the use of a face shield for those who meet the criteria above, should be exhausted before an individual is exempted from the order.

3.  You may have heard on the news last evening that the PA Secretary of Health issued another order on November 23, 2020, directing public schools in counties with substantial levels of community transmission of COVID-19 to attest to health and safety protocols. As a result of this order, by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 30, the School Board President and Superintendent must sign the attestation to affirm that the District is complying with the updated universal face covering order and agrees to follow the updated guidance released from PDE yesterday whenever a case of COVID-19 among students or employees is identified OR the District must transition to full remote learning until such time that Dauphin County returns to moderate levels of community transmission of COVID-19 for two consecutive weeks. After consultation with the District solicitor and members of the School Board this morning, Board President Linda Mehaffie and I will be signing the attestation stating that MASD will comply with the health and safety orders as issued by the PA Department of Health. This decision is based on data that shows MASD has had very few positive cases of COVID-19 in our schools, our employees and students continue to do an outstanding job following the rules for mask wearing and social distancing, and I will not hesitate to close a classroom, school building or the entire District if the case counts warrant such action. 

In closing, we need everyone’s assistance to keep our schools open. Our students benefit from in-person teaching and learning, interaction with peers and the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities that promote positive mental health and well-being. As we begin the Thanksgiving holiday recess, we respectfully ask that everyone do their best to comply with the new orders that have been put into place by the Commonwealth so that we can continue to keep our schools open upon return next week. We recognize that we have no control over COVID-19, but we all have control over our decisions to take the necessary measures to keep one another safe and healthy. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and continued support. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly at lsuski@raiderweb.org

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Friday, November 20, 2020

Dear MASD Parent/Guardian:

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank you and your children for your continued efforts during this time of great uncertainty. MASD is blessed to have supportive parents, great students, and outstanding educators who work together to provide the best possible education for our students in the midst of a global pandemic.

Some parents may not support my recommendation to the School Board to keep our schools open at this time, but I feel strongly that our students need to be in school as much as possible. I want to assure you that we will continue to do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of our employees and students. Part of that commitment has been and continues to be transparency about the status of our COVID-19 cases in MASD. At Tuesday’s School Board meeting, I reported to the Board that we had zero cases among students or employees since the closing of MAMS a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, in the past two days the District has been informed of two positive cases ~ an employee at the Administration Building and a student at Fink Elementary School. In both cases, the infected parties had not been at work or school for several days prior to the positive test result; therefore, there was no risk of exposure to staff or students. However, in keeping with our Health & Safety Plan, that office and classroom were thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with fogging equipment.

The second reason for this communication is to inform you of two specific orders (list below) that were released from the PA Department of Health (DOH). Over the past two days, school districts have worked with their solicitors in the interpretation of these orders. As of this afternoon, the PA Department of Education has still not released its guidance or interpretation of these orders as they apply to K-12 schools. Therefore, it is possible that some things may still change next week. However, I did not want to delay any longer in getting this information out to our families, especially in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday next week.

Below is a link for you to read very specific questions and answers related to the Updated Universal Face Covering Order that is in effect as of November 17, 2020. Please click on this link and take a few minutes to read through these explanations that provide helpful information for both in and out of school time:

https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Guidance/Universal-Masking-FAQ.aspx

How does this impact our schools and what is different than what we have been doing?

The new DOH Order expands the previous requirement for individuals to wear face coverings both indoors and outdoors. In most instances, the DOH Order requires face coverings to be worn indoors when you are with other people, regardless of whether social distancing is possible. Although face coverings are generally required to be worn outdoors only when physical distancing cannot occur, the DOH Order requires face coverings in certain outdoor situations even with physical distancing. In addition, the DOH Order still permits limited exceptions to the face covering requirements, including an exemption for individuals with medical issues or disabilities. However, the DOH Order provides that alternatives to face coverings (such as the use of “face shields” or other accommodations) should be exhausted before an individual does not use any covering.

Under what circumstances are students permitted to remove their face coverings?

Nothing has changed! School entities may continue to allow students to remove face coverings when students are:
• Eating or drinking when spaced at least six feet apart; or
• When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task; or
• At least six feet apart during "mask breaks" to last no longer than 10 minutes.

The following link contains useful information related to the Travel Mitigation Order released by the PA Department of Health which went into effect today:

https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx

What does this mean for students and employees of MASD?

According to the District solicitor, the District is not tasked with the responsibility to enforce the Travel Mitigation Order. However, it is with the District’s best interests in mind that we strongly discourage travel out of state or we may not be able to keep schools open due to the potential large number of employees who may have to quarantine for 14 days upon return to PA. We respectfully encourage everyone to do their part to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 by abiding by the Travel Mitigation Order and remaining in the state of Pennsylvania until the Order is lifted. With that said, the District has no jurisdiction over employees’ or parents’ decisions to travel on non-school days.

May students who have to quarantine for 14 days engage in full remote learning?

Yes. Students who return from out of state are strongly encouraged to remain at home for 14 days unless they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. While at home, students should engage in full remote learning by following their scheduled classes on Zoom.

We understand that these new orders may result in many questions. Please feel free to contact me for any clarifications that may be needed.

On behalf of the Board and Administration, I wish all of you a happy, safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday break (November 25 – 30).

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools

2020.11.17 Universal Face Coverings Order
2020.11.17 Travel Mitigation Order


October 23, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This message is a follow-up to yesterday’s notification that the Middle School will be closed through Friday, October 30, due to positive COVID-19 cases.

The District has received a few questions asking when parents would be notified by the PA Department of Health if their child may need to quarantine. When the Department of Health (DOH) notifies MASD that a student has tested positive for COVID-19, DOH requests that the District provide names of students who may have been in close contact with the student who tested positive. Student names and parent contact information is placed in a spreadsheet and sent to the Department of Health for contact tracing calls to be made. The timing of those calls is outside the control of the School District; therefore, we made the decision to personally reach out via telephone today to the parents of students who may have attended class, eaten lunch, or sat on the school bus with/near the infected student on Monday, October 19. We felt it was important that parents be notified as soon as possible once the list of students was determined since it may take a few days until the Department of Health contacts parents. If you have not received a personal call or voice mail message from MASD personnel today, then it is safe to presume that your child did not have classes, eat lunch or ride the bus on Monday with/near the student who tested positive for COVID-19.

Only parents who have received the personal phone call today are strongly encouraged to quarantine their child for 14 days from the date of exposure (October 19 – November 2). All other members of the household (including siblings) would not be recommended to quarantine since they would not have had close contact with the confirmed positive case.

With many students involved in both school and community activities, it is advisable to take seriously the need to keep close contacts away from others during the 14-day period to prevent possible further spread of the virus. This week it became necessary to shut down both Blue Raider varsity and junior high cheerleading programs for 14 days due to exposure to a confirmed positive case at last week’s practice and football game. Parents of those student athletes were notified in separate communications.

The District is relying heavily upon honest communication from parents, community and employees if exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. We recognize that in some cases people are not aware that they have been exposed or that they are infected (if asymptomatic) or they would not have come to school or participated in extra-curricular activities. In order to avoid unknowingly exposing people to the virus, please be reminded of the following:

  1. If your child is exhibiting symptoms such as fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, please keep them at home until symptoms have resolved.
  2. If someone in your household is being tested for COVID-19, please consider self-quarantining those in your household until a negative test result is received. This is a precautionary measure that truly helps prevent potential exposure to the virus.
  3. If someone in your household receives a positive test result, then it is highly recommended that everyone in the household quarantine for 14 days from the date the person first became symptomatic or, if unknown, the date the test was taken.

If any of the above are applicable to your household, please notify your child’s building principal. If parents do not notify the District, then we are not aware of the situation and potential risk of exposure until we receive a call from the Department of Health. Parents contacting the District when they become aware of situations listed above helps us expedite potential quarantines which aids in mitigating the spread of the virus. By following these steps you will assist us in keeping COVID-19 out of our schools and prevent schools and/or programs from having to be shut down. As cold and flu season is now upon us, coupled with COVID-19, it is imperative that we all do our part to remain home when not feeling well to mitigate the spread of any illness.

As we conclude this 8th week of school, I want to express my sincere appreciation to everyone for their cooperation and patience as we navigate this uncharted territory together. Our teachers, coaches and administrators are working very hard to serve the needs of our students during this unique fall season while keeping them safe and healthy. Many thanks to all of you who have supported us in our efforts to protect our teachers, students, administrators, the community, and our families.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


October 22, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent per the MASD Health & Safety Plan.

The District has received notification of another confirmed positive case of COVID-19 involving a student at the Middle School. The student was last in school on Monday, October 19. The PA Department of Health will be contacting the parents of any students who should quarantine for 14 days due to direct contact with this positive case.

Due to the fact that there are now two (2) students in the same school building who have tested positive within a 14-day period, and Dauphin County is in the “moderate” level of community transmission, the decision matrix from the PA Department of Education and PA Department of Health recommends that the school be closed for 5 – 7 days. In consultation with the District Physician and in following the protocols of the MASD Health & Safety Plan, please be advised that the Middletown Area Middle School will be closed on Friday, October 23 through Friday, October 30. All students will be 100% remote, and teachers will teach from home. This closure will allow the building to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. It also allows the public health staff the necessary time to complete case investigation and contact tracing.

Please note that today’s junior high field hockey game vs. Camp Hill has been cancelled. Additional scheduled junior high practices and games will also be cancelled.

Middle school students will return to the building on Monday, November 2 which is a Cohort A Day. All other MASD schools will remain open tomorrow and next week. If the situation changes, parents will receive additional notifications.


Thank you for your cooperation as we work together to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


October 20, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent for informational purposes only. Please note that all MASD schools remain open at this time.

The District has received notification of two (2) confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 involving a student at the Middle School and a student at the High School. Neither student was in school since last week. The PA Department of Health has begun the process of contact tracing and is advising the District administration of any other students or employees who may also need to quarantine due to direct contact with either positive case. Those individuals impacted will be notified personally by MASD administrators or the PA Department of Health regarding the dates of quarantine.

Please note that today’s volleyball games will be postponed. The games will be rescheduled at a later date.

Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This communication is sent for informational purposes only. Please note that all MASD schools remain open at this time.

Over the past few days, the District has received notification of two (2) confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 involving MASD employees – one at Reid Elementary School and the other who travels between Kunkel Elementary School, MAMS and the HS. The PA Department of Health was notified of both situations and provided direction to me this afternoon. By contact tracing, the District administration was able to pinpoint those who had direct contact with the infected employees. In both cases, no students need to quarantine; however, there are five staff members among those four buildings who will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure to these individuals. Those five (5) employees are not exhibiting any symptoms at this time and will work from home during their quarantine period.

The District is also seeing an increase in situations in which teachers and students are needing to quarantine due to confirmed positive cases among family members living in their households. We appreciate everyone’s diligence in contacting their building principal if their child or a member of their household has tested positive or has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive. That information is critical in assisting the District with vetting who may be required to quarantine, depending on the facts of the potential exposure. With your continued assistance and support, we will continue to be vigilant in keeping MASD healthy and safe during a time where positive cases of COVID-19 are on the rise across the Commonwealth.

Be well,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Friday, September 25, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This communication is being sent to all K-12 parents for informational purposes only due to a COVID-19 related matter. The parents of the affected students in one classroom at Reid Elementary School have already been notified via telephone by the office staff to request that they pick up their child from school today. If you have not been notified, then your child is not impacted by the details below:

The PA Department of Health notified the District today that a substitute teacher who taught at Reid Elementary School on Monday, September 21 has since tested positive for COVID-19. Although the substitute teacher wore a mask all day and was socially distanced from the students, out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Health has advised that only the students in that particular classroom be sent home to quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure to the substitute teacher (Monday, September 21 – Monday, October 5). Those students may return to school on Tuesday, October 6. Their classroom teacher will teach them remotely during the quarantine period.

This notification also presents an opportunity to review with all K-12 parents how to notify the District of a pending test for COVID-19 or exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:

· If your child has been experiencing two or more symptoms of COVID-19, they should not come to school. Please remember to conduct the pre-screening with your child each morning before sending them to school.
· Contact your primary care physician if you believe your child should be tested for COVID-19 due to symptoms or possible exposure to a confirmed case.
· Please keep your child at home until the results of any COVID-19 test are received. Contact the building principal to make them aware that a test is pending. The principal will then notify the superintendent. All information is kept confidential and only shared with staff members who need to know.
· Please note that a negative test result does not necessarily mean that the child is cleared to return to school the next day. That decision is dependent on several factors and is vetted by the superintendent with the District physician and Department of Health. Every case is fact-specific.
· Just a reminder that any student who has a fever (due to any illness, not just COVID-19) may not return to school until fever-free for 24 full hours without the assistance of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol™ or Advil.™

Your cooperation and support is appreciated as we continue to do our very best to keep our students and employees safe!

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Monday, September 14, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This notification is sent in accordance with the MASD Phased School Reopening Health & Safety Plan.

This morning the District was notified that a High School support staff employee who is asymptomatic has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was sent home immediately to self-isolate. The employee works in an office and has had no direct contact with students or other staff members.

Direct contact is defined by the CDC as “someone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic individuals, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the person is isolated.”

Per the guidance received from the PA Department of Health, the school will remain open, and the area where the confirmed case has spent time has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Thank you,

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


Monday, August 24, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This notification is sent to inform you that the District has been apprised of two confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Middletown Area School District.

A support staff employee at the High School received a positive COVID-19 test result on Sunday. The employee was last at the High School on Monday, August 17, and had no contact with students and very limited contact with other employees; most importantly, not within 6 feet of the infected individual, thus they do not need to be quarantined.

This morning the District was apprised that a student athlete has tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, certain members of the football team who may have been in close contact with this player on Thursday, August 21 will need to quarantine for 14 days out of an abundance of caution. Phone calls are being made to those student athletes who will need to be quarantined. If the athletic director or coach does not call you, then that means that your child was not in close contact with the infected individual and will not need to quarantine. According to our District physician, it is not necessary for your child to be tested for COVID-19 at this time. You should monitor your child for any COVID-19 symptoms, and if symptomatic, consult with your child’s personal care physician for his/her recommendation regarding the need to get tested. Please note that even if your child were to be tested and the result be negative, they must still quarantine for the full 14 day period which ends on September 4, 2020.

Since school begins next week, our District physician has indicated that those quarantined student athletes must remain at home and do full remote learning until the quarantine period ends. Those students will be able to return to their regularly assigned high school cohort effective Tuesday, September 8, 2020. They will be able to return to football practice on Friday, September 4, which is the end of the quarantine period. (*Note there is no school on September 4 or 7 due to the Labor Day holiday weekend.) 

On an unrelated note, the District was advised this morning that Power School sent out automated messages informing parents of their child’s progress reports and class assignments. The IT department is working to resolve this glitch in the system. We apologize for any confusion that these emails created for parents this morning.

Thank you for your continued vigilance as we work together to reopen school and athletics/extra-curricular activities with safety as our first priority.

Dr. Lori A. Suski
Superintendent of Schools


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