A staff member at Greater Latrobe Senior High has died of complications from covid-19, according to an email sent to faculty and district staff on Thanksgiving Day.
A day earlier, the school board voted to continue offering in-person classes to students in the district, while levels of covid-19 cases are in the “substantial” range and increasing in Westmoreland County.
Superintendent Georgia Teppert said in the email that district officials learned that Terri Sherwin, a senior senior secretary, died of complications from covid-19 on Wednesday evening.
Teppert described Sherwin as “a wonderful employee who will be missed by the entire GLSD family”.
She said bereavement counselors were on site at the high school Friday to help staff who are dealing with the loss and who will be available again in person or virtually on Monday.
Students at Grand Latrobe have had the choice since November 16 to attend face-to-face classes five days a week or receive full-time distance education. The Grand Latrobe decided to continue this blended education model after state officials on Monday released new guidelines for public schools in counties that have substantial covid-19 levels.
The council voted on Wednesday for Teppert and school board chair Dr. Michael Zorch to sign a state-required document attesting that the district will follow state guidelines to mitigate the spread of covid-19 while Greater Latrobe continues to offer classes in classrooms and the county bug. the level of transmission remains in the substantial range – with over 100 cases per 100,000 population.
According to data tracked by state officials, Westmoreland recorded 321.2 cases per 100,000 population for the week ending Thursday, up from 249.3 for the previous week.
The council rejected the new state-led alternative of moving to full-time distance education for all students.
“You can either sign that attestation, saying that you’re going to stay in school but that you’ll follow the new guidelines they just released, or you can attest that you’re going to move to a fully distance learning model. , ”Lawyer Ned Nakles told the board.
Nakles said the new state directive confirms the decision to offer in-person instruction is a decision of local school boards, but he noted that could change if Greater Latrobe receives a direct order from officials in Pennsylvania. to close its schools.
“It’s a fluid situation,” he says. “Every time we think we have the tiger by the tail, we get new advice.”
State mitigation requirements require students and staff to maintain their social distancing and wear headgear while in district buildings.
School board member Heidi Kozar, who voted against Wednesday’s attestation resolution, expressed doubts that either of the requirements could be followed to the letter.
She said there are classrooms in college that don’t maintain a 6-foot social distance. She also said staff could not constantly monitor students to ensure they are wearing face masks correctly and keeping a distance from each other.
“It makes me very nervous,” she said, also expressing concern about the potential for transmission of the virus after the students “went to the four winds” to participate in Thanksgiving activities as a family.
Teppert acknowledged that there are junior high school classrooms that offer less than six feet of social distancing, but noted that partitions on student desks provide additional protection. She said all teaching areas allow a distance of more than 4 feet, which she said fits with a World Health Organization recommendation for a distance of between 3 feet and 6 feet.
Teppert noted that families in the district have been urged for some time to alert district administrators of any plans to move students out of the area.
Nakles noted that district officials have initiated contact tracing for any student or staff member who has tested positive for covid-19, rather than waiting for state officials to take over.
The district reported two active cases of covid-19 among students and six among staff, as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Three parents from the district spoke out in favor of keeping students in classrooms at Wednesday’s special meeting.
Jeff Himler is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] ou via Twitter .
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