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State Offers Updated Guidance on Building Closure Requirements
As Butler County has moved into the “moderate” range in regards to positive COVID cases, Mars Area School District has received updated guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) regarding the number of days for which a school is required to close for cleaning based upon the building’s enrollment and the number of active COVID cases.
- Mars Area Centennial School (which is considered a “small school” — less than 500 students) would need to close for 1-2 days when 2-4 positive cases are reported or for a minimum of 5 days with 5 or more positive cases, while the building undergoes a deep cleaning.
- Mars Area Primary Center, Mars Area Elementary School and Mars Area Middle School (which are considered “medium schools” — 500-900 students) would need to close for 1-2 days when 4-6 positive cases are reported or for a minimum of 5 days with 7 or more positive cases, while the building undergoes a deep cleaning.
- Mars Area High School (which is considered a “large school” — more than 900 students) would need to close for 1-2 days when 6-10 positive cases are reported or for a minimum of 5 days with 11 or more positive cases, while the building undergoes a deep cleaning.
Note: School closures are based upon a “rolling 14-day period,” which, as defined by PDE, begins with the date of the first positive case in each building.
In addition to any building closures based on the total number of positive cases, individual school closures may be deemed necessary, if and when, required quarantines result in staffing shortages. Any building closure information will be communicated in a timely manner.
In the event that a school is closed, all affected students will participate in lessons via Live-Stream Interactive (LSI) Instruction, with teachers facilitating instruction on a period-by-period basis. Building administrators, paraprofessionals and support staff members will be temporarily relocated to other schools, while our custodial crews clean the building. In addition, any scheduled athletics events and/or activities at that building will be cancelled or relocated, where possible.
While our District’s acknowledges that Butler County has been upgraded to the “moderate” range, marking a decline in the total number of COVID cases; our schools have experienced a surge in positive cases in the last few weeks. As there continues to be little evidence linking increased transmission rates to schools, the rise in cases amongst students has been attributed to gatherings and “at-risk” social behaviors occurring outside of school.
We implore all of our families to continue to follow all COVID safety protocols including washing and/or sanitizing hands, maintaining social distancing, the proper use of face coverings (masks or shields), and avoiding large gathering, whenever possible and especially when out and about in the community (participating in sports, visiting playgrounds, talking with neighbors, etc.). Parents/guardians and students who attend our schools’ spring sporting events, both indoors and outdoors, are also reminded that that face coverings and social distancing are required at all times.
Our District continues to believe that traditional, in-person instruction is the best way to educate our students and we remain committed to doing so as safely as possible. Our District encourages social distancing, where feasible, and requires that face coverings (masks or shields) be worn at all times within our schools and facilities. For those parents/guardians and/or students who do not feel comfortable returning to school, our instructional model continues to provide the option for students to participate via LSI Instruction.
We appreciate your patience and support as our District is continuing to navigate through this pandemic. Only in working together can we ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for our entire school community. Thank you.
Dr. Mark Gross, Superintendent
Mars Area School District