Dear Families, Employees and Community Leaders,
This week, Governor Mike DeWine addressed the state in two press conferences on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and outlined a series of significant measures to minimize the spread of the disease. In his remarks yesterday, among other measures, he recommended canceling in-person college classes and banning spectators from high school, college and professional indoor sporting events and concerts.
Governor DeWine stated on Tuesday: “We’re now at a critical time here in Ohio in regard to the coronavirus. The decisions we make as individuals in the next few days, the next several weeks will really determine how many lives will be lost in Ohio.”
Today, Governor DeWine shared that Ohio has its first “community spread” case. He stated: “Community spread is a game-changer. You're going to see us taking more aggressive actions now. Please know that we’re doing this to protect Ohioans and protect our healthcare system.”
In just 24-hours, what we know about this virus and the state’s response has changed. What does all of this mean for Perrysburg Schools? At this time, Mr. DeWine has recommended not closing K-12 schools in Ohio. But he added in a cautionary tone that school teachers, staff members and families should prepare for the possibility of that happening in the future. With his message today, the state is prepared to take aggressive action. Perrysburg Schools employees are preparing for that possibility.
The purpose of this letter is to outline the school district’s action plan following Governor DeWine’s statements in the last two days.
Clearly, as a community and state, we are entering an unprecedented time. The steps we are taking now based on the Governor’s recommendations, while disappointing to many, are designed to help save lives. As the virus spreads and we learn more about it, our response and plans will change. K-12 schools remain open now, and we hope that it will remain that way for the rest of the year, though we are planning for the possibility of them closing. Again, we hope that this does not happen.
Below is a list of steps being taken. Details and specifics on these and other events that are not specifically identified below will be shared by the district and schools as they approach. There will be many questions and we ask for your patience as we take the steps necessary to implement the recommendations and directives from our government and public health leaders.
Below are some of the steps the school district is taking effective Thursday, March 12, 2020:
Closing School Facilities to Outside Groups with 100 or More Guests and Participants
Hosting events in our facilities for 100 or more guests for outside groups will be canceled or postponed until further notice. Aside from the fact that environments with so many people may lead to further transmission of this disease, our first priority is to maintain the safest environment for our students and employees. Sanitizing these areas after an outside group uses it may deplete those critical supplies that are becoming scarcer and pull staff members away from focusing on classrooms and other student areas. Pending feedback from the health department and availability of cleaning supplies, this restriction may be adjusted to smaller sized events in the future.
We understand that these steps will cause a disruption to many who rely on using our facilities. We apologize for this inconvenience and empathize with those organizers. We look forward to being able to again offer these facilities to the public.
Suspending All Field Trips Until Further Notice
Class and school field trips scheduled for students and clubs have been postponed until further notice. Our field trips sometimes send hundreds of our students into densely populated places, increasing chances for transmission.
Booster and Parent Club-sponsored events may be affected by this guidance as well. The school district is working closely with the booster organizations and parent clubs to review scheduled events. Communication will be sent as decisions are made regarding these events.
Ending PHS Student and Staff Attendance Opt-Out and Incentive Programs
Perrysburg High School and the school district are suspending programs that may entice students and employees who may not be feeling well to attend school or go to work. We want anyone who is ill or exhibiting symptoms to stay home.
Suspending Concerts, Banquets, Programs and Performances with 100 or more Guests and Participants
Events resulting in 100 or more guests and participants will be cancelled or postponed until further notice. The Governor and public health officials have indicated that large gatherings (defined by 100 or more participants and guests) increase chance of transmission. As a result, public concerts, OHSAA, NCAA and professional sporting events, for example, are being held with limited spectators or cancelled.
All Employee Travel for Professional Training/Development/Conferences on Hold and Reviewed on a Case-by-Case Basis
All requests to attend conferences outside the school district will be placed on hold and reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Banning Visitors Who are Ill
We ask that anyone who is ill or exhibiting symptoms not come to the schools.
Sanitizing and Cleaning Buses and Facilities
Perrysburg Schools has modified its cleaning practices in our school buildings and on our buses in response to this pandemic. Staff members continue to focus on “high touch” areas as a priority. Interiors of school buses are sanitized with a CDC-approved disinfectant after the morning routes are completed each day. All classrooms are cleaned every day.
I have spoken to physicians, parents and community members in recent days about this virus and the state’s and school district’s responses. There are some who feel the response is unnecessary and are frustrated by the disruption these measures cause. Likewise, there are some who feel the state and school district are not doing enough. School leaders are trying to delicately balance the recommendations and directives from our state leaders and public health officials with the need to give students and families a high-quality educational experience and those wonderful experiences that occur outside the classroom. There is no doubt that there will be future communications about this topic.
I have nothing but empathy for those who will face these disruptions. I am hoping that very soon we can resume all of these activities. However, today’s message from Governor DeWine is clear: this virus is a credible threat to our state and many residents. Ensuring the health and welfare of our students, employees and families is paramount, and this will continue to guide our actions as we move forward.
Thomas L. Hosler