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Shutdown

Governor Wolf closes all PA schools for two weeks due to coronavirus outbreak

Times Observer graphic by Dave Ferry Visitors to the Warren County School Districts’s website are greeted by this message on the home page notifying students and parents that. Gov. Tom Wolf announced the closure of all Pennsylvania K-12 schools at about 3 p.m. Friday.

Warren County students, and all K-12 students in Pennsylvania, are getting an unscheduled spring break.

A day after Ohio and Maryland both closed all public schools for the coming weeks, a similar announcement was made by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Shortly after 3 p.m. Friday, Wolf announced that all of Pennsylvania’s schools would close for at least the next 10 business days.

Also on Friday, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government for this effort today, I am officially declaring a national emergency — two very big words,” Trump said in a Friday afternoon press conference.

“The administration has been working with school districts as well as state and local officials to gather input on this decision,” according to the governor’s statement on www.governor.pa.gov. “The Wolf Administration will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the commonwealth, and at the end of 10 days will reevaluate and decide whether continued closure is needed.”

Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart said she heard the news at 3:08 p.m. Friday, but that the district will be closed down for the next two weeks.

Tidioute Community Charter School CEO Dr. Doug Allen said the building is closed to all students, employees, and visitors until Monday, March 30.

“All TCCS events, rehearsals and practices are now canceled until Monday, March 30,” Allen said. “Students and employees will not be allowed to use school facilities until March 30th. More specific information will follow as updates are necessary.”

Principal Nancy Warner of St. Joseph Catholic School confirmed the closure there, as well.

From Thursday to Friday, the number of confirmed and presumptive cases in the state went up by 50 percent — from 22 to 35. So far, all but one of the cases are in the very eastern counties of the state.

“First and foremost, my top priority as governor – and that of our education leaders – must be to ensure the health and safety of our students and school communities,” Wolf said in the statement. “As such, I am ordering that all schools in the commonwealth close for the next two weeks.”

The governor’s declaration comes with the assurance that those days will not have to be made up.

“Be aware that no school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours requirements,” Wolf said. “Also, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced today that it received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow eligible schools to serve meals to low income students in a non-congregate setting, such as a drive-through or grab and go, during this closure. We will also work with schools to assist them with those plans.”

Warren County School District prepared and publicized a letter shortly before the announcement without knowledge of the governor’s decision.

In that letter, district personnel announced that all gatherings of more than 250 people outside of the school day and all use of district facilities by non-school organizations would be suspended; all field trips outside of district facilities, all club events, all athletic scrimmages and competitions, and employee participation in conferences and work-related travel outside of the county;

Tidioute Community Charter School CEO Dr. Doug Allen said the building is closed to all students, employees, and visitors until Monday, March 30.

“All TCCS events, rehearsals and practices are now canceled until Monday, March 30,” Allen said. “Students and employees will not be allowed to use school facilities until March 30th. More specific information will follow as updates are necessary.”

Principal Nancy Warner of St. Joseph Catholic School confirmed the closure there, as well.

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