Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Monday afternoon the extended closure of all K-12 schools in the Commonwealth for the next two weeks as the number of coronavirus cases increases. This comes after the first two-week closure announcement made on Mar. 13.

The order could be extended again if necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19, according to the state Department of Education.

Under the new extension, schools would not reopen until at least April 6 with staff reorganization on April 7 and students returning April 9.

Tyrone Area School District acting superintendent Leslie Estep said there are still many unanswered questions.

However, as a result of the latest change, standardized testing for students in career and technical programs have been added to the list of previously cancelled tests, including the PSSA and Keystone exams. PSSA testing for third through eighth grades was set to begin Apr. 20, and Keystone tests for high school students on May 11. The U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver request from the state on Friday.

“We are anticipating that the Pennsylvania General Assembly will pass a school code bill later this week that will give us more information,” said Estep. “In the meantime, teachers are working to prepare more specific review and enrichment activities for students which will be ready later this week.”

Those materials are to be made available to students and parents, but will not be graded or be required to be turned in. Tyrone Area School District hopes that if closures continue, there will be some way in the coming weeks to provide online education for all students.

The school district’s meal distribution will continue as scheduled to provide meals to students under age 18 on Mondays and Thursdays. Caregivers are asked to register in advance for free breakfasts and lunches for Thursday, next Monday, and beyond. A brief registration form is available at https://forms/gle/DHhBjwWbUz4iSR5L7, or follow the link from tyrone.k12.pa.us.

Along with athletics being postponed for another two weeks, the school is also necessarily postponing the spring musical, “Newsies,” that was scheduled for Apr. 3 and Apr. 4. “We are not yet sure of the new dates, but we are working on figuring that out,” said Estep. However, The Daily Herald will continue to run the student spotlights for those involved in the musical.

Bellwood-Antis School District is responding to the closure by attempting to offer voluntary learning opportunities for all students. This would be done primarily through an online format, though the district realizes not all families have access to Internet or devices and is considering distributing paper materials for those students.

The district has asked that parents of students who will not be able to complete online learning to call their corresponding school level principal today and leave a message stating the student’s name and grade. Schools can be reached at the following numbers: Myers Elementary at 814-742-2270 ext. 5173; Middle School at 814-742-2270 ext. 4316; and High School at 814-742-2270 ext. 4310.

Bellwood-Antis teachers will post lessons online or on Remind. The work is voluntary and will not impact grades or attendance for students. “We are offering these lessons as enrichment and an attempt to provide educational opportunities to students during these unique and challenging times,” reads a statement from the district.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the district also announced it has open its outdoor Wi-Fi for guest use in the Myers Elementary parking lots off of Stadium Drive and Martin Street, and along Martin Street and in the high school parking lot between the high school and elementary school. Services is “as-is, where-is.” Residents are asked to stay in their vehicles to keep social distance from anyone else, and to accept the terms and conditions when they appear on a device. There is no technical support available.

“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers, and all employees who work in our school is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,”said Pedro A. Rivera, secretary of education. “Extending the closures will help every community in its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The state’s 29 intermediate units will be available to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students as of Tuesday. The school districts, Department of Education, and Department of Health will continue to provide updates as they are available.

Adeena Harbst can be reached at aharbst@thedailyherald.net.

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