‘Moving in the Right Direction’

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RUSSELL, Pa. – A lot could change in two weeks, but right now Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart thinks things are “moving in the right direction” for a return to in-person learning on Jan. 26.

“Numbers are coming down but we are going to have to watch how those numbers trend between now and the 26th,” Stewart said during the WCSD Board of Directors meeting Monday. “If things continue to go in the direction that they are and they continue to look the way they are. We should be fine. It would be my recommendation that we head back.”

The majority of the district’s students have been in remote learning since Dec. 9. Stewart recommended the move to remote learning due to staffing issues within the district related to COVID-19.

“If someone is a confirmed positive, they isolate,” Stewart said. “Those folks that are close contacts have to quarantine.”

According to Stewart, since the beginning of the school year, the district has had 53 employees who have had to isolate and 145 who have had to quarantine.

“We had five positives between the start of school and Thanksgiving,” Stewart said. “Between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, we had 43. And now coming back from the New Year, we have five.”

As of noon Monday, Stewart added, there are 11 district employees under quarantine.

“We are far better off right now than we were coming back from Thanksgiving break,” she said.

District employees will be able to get the first dose of the COVID vaccine over a 3-day period beginning Tuesday. Stewart said 69 percent of employees have opted to get vaccinated.

“I also want to be really clear that this is not the Warren County School District vaccinating these people,” Stewart said. “There’s no mandate to have anybody vaccinated. It was offered because of the Pennsylvania COVID vaccination plan our employees fall into the 1B category, when they’re out and around children.”

Stewart will be one of five superintendents participating in a call with Sen. Robert Casey Wednesday.

“He would like to know how things are going in rural and suburban school districts, so I was asked to join in on that conversation,” she said. “He would really like to talk about how things are going and how we are handling things.”