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Partnership formed between CSIU and health experts

As featured in The News-Item

MANDATA — Line Mountain School District Superintendent Dave Campbell announced a partnership has been formed with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU) and experts from Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, and Evangelical Community Hospital, in Lewisburg, to create a regional plan to reopen schools.

During the district’s virtual school board meeting Tuesday evening, Campbell shared a statement generated by the CSIU, which said the partnership will utilize local and global research and best practices, along with the most current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

CSIU consists of 17 school districts and three career and technical education centers in a five-county region that consists of 37,000 students and 4,000 educational staff members.

The CSIU said the collaboration between the medical and educational communities will be ongoing throughout the duration of the pandemic to “inform shifts in the virus, as well as emerging medical trends.”

“As a unified region, we are committed to keeping our students and staff safe, while providing the highest quality education possible for our students and families in person and through virtual learning tools,” the CSIU stated.

Campbell said there will be ongoing joint meetings with other local school district stakeholders to share ideas and current best practices until the end of the pandemic.

A regional superintendent and stakeholders meeting, facilitated by the CSIU, will be held on Monday, July 13.

On Tuesday, July 14, the Line Mountain school board will hold a meeting to review the proposed reopen plan, which will also be available on the district website for review and comments for two weeks.

On Tuesday, July 28, the school board will conduct a meeting to allow public feedback and finalize the plan.

Campbell said the district intends to reopen schools, including bus transportation, to all students using the approved district calendar date of Monday, Aug. 17.

“The virus will not disappear by Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, but, as being witnessed currently, its level of spread may change,” Campbell said. “Realizing COVID-19 will be present throughout the foreseeable future and outbreaks may be determined and change as our community continues to reopen, flexibility will be an upmost priority.”

Campbell said current goals of the district plan include:

• A screening process for all staff and students each day using a tiered approach where most screening occurs at home and is reported through a system.

• Isolating symptomatic individuals until they are sent home.

• Developing a plan to work with healthcare professionals and families on a case-by-case basis to determine what steps are required if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

• Physically distance students and staff as much as facilities allow.

• Require and enable students and staff to wash hands with soap and water or antibacterial gel thoroughly and often.

Campbell said that although the district cannot identify a finite number, the district’s plan will be committed to adjusting its approach based on the reality of the virus’ spread in the region.

The district will be implementing safe-health practices, such as encouraging students to wash hands, which were also in place prior to schools closing.

Campbell said he doesn’t perceive an issue with younger students following health and safety guidelines, noting that teachers worked well with students prior to the shutdown.

Doug Wolfe, director of plants operations and maintenance, informed the board that about $30,000 has already been used to purchase various sanitization products and equipment, including disinfected sprayers, 9,000 masks and 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.

Future purchases may include student and teacher laptops, no-touch thermometers and an upgrade to the district’s phone system.

The district will receive $289,283 from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and $166,055 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to make COVID-19-related purchases.

In other business, Brad Skelton, dean of students and athletic director, announced that the 2020 prom rescheduled for Aug. 21 has now been canceled due to the pandemic. The junior class, he said, will invite all 2020 graduates, along with an age-appropriate guest, to the 2021 prom at the Silver Moon Banquet Hall on April 24.

Skelton said practices for fall sports and the band can resume on June 29. He said coaches must meet with him and the district’s athletic trainer to review health and safety guidelines established by the district, such as temperature screenings.

The district reopening of sports plan is expected to be posted on the district’s website in the near future.