Elk County Catholic School System is working very closely with state agencies, the Diocese of Erie and local school districts to monitor our health and safety plans. As many of you are aware, Elk County recently shifted to the “substantial” level of community spread based on our rate of confirmed positive cases. Based on another measure, the percent positivity rate, Elk County would still be considered to be at the moderate level. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education consider us to be at the substantial level of community transmission based on these data. ECCSS President Sam MacDonald participated in several calls regarding the situation this morning, and there were several takeaways:

  • According to state officials, schools open to in-person instruction “do not appear to be driving the case count.”
  • Our local healthcare system is not currently under stress due to the upswing in cases. 
  • State agencies are not recommending that we go to fully-remote learning at this time, but are urging us to do all we can to enforce masking and social distancing efforts. 
  • Next steps include monitoring case rates this week and participating in another call with the school districts, DOH and PDE early next week. 

MacDonald participated in a separate meeting with local superintendents after the call with the state agencies. None of the local districts have plans to go to a hybrid model or fully remote instruction at this time. Rather, they plan to continue monitoring the situation and participate in the second call with DOH and PDE next week, at which time we can all take emerging data into account and see if we can identify any important trends. 

ECCSS agrees with this approach, which has been endorsed by the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Erie.

School principals and other leaders are taking a hard look at daily operations to ensure compliance with masking and social distancing, and also assessing other things we can do to minimize risks to our students, staff and communities. 

Please monitor all communications from the school system, as we will inform you of any important changes. In the meantime, please do all you can to follow school and community protocols designed to keep people safe.