MOUNT CARMEL — The Mount Carmel Area School District will implement virtual instruction for all district students, effective Friday, Sept. 4, through Thursday, Sept. 17, due to a fifth person affiliated with the district contracting COVID-19.
In addition, all extracurricular and athletic activities will be paused from Thursday, Sept. 3, through Friday, Sept. 11. The district will reassess its situation at that time. Superintendent Pete Cheddar said no sporting events will take place through Friday, Sept. 11, meaning the highly-anticipated Southern-Mount Carmel football game will not be played as scheduled.
According to a news release posted at 3 p.m. Thursday on the district’s website and social media platforms, the district was informed of its fifth case on Thursday and has been in regular communication with the state Department of Health and the Department of Education.
In an abundance of caution — based on data, protocols, established metrics and the potential for community spread — both agencies recommended a full district closure of in-person instruction for two weeks, according to the release.
“The school district and the Pennsylvania Department of Health will continue to assess community spread over the two-week time period. If cases are controlled, in-person instruction will resume on Friday, Sept. 18,” the release states. “The Mount Carmel Area School District Board of Directors and administrators acknowledge the challenges that come with virtual instruction and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our community. If you are struggling with child care or internet access, please contact our district or building main office at 570-339-1500.”
The district reminded students and their families that Wi-Fi access is available outside the Mount Carmel Area Public Library. Central Susquehanna Opportunities and The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way will be present at the library on Friday, Sept. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to answer questions regarding child care or internet access.
School meals for all students enrolled in the district will still be provided. Meals can be picked up outside the main office of the junior-senior high school from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and outside the elementary school cafeteria doors from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
No meals will be provided on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7, but food pickup will be available Friday, Sept. 4, and Wednesday, Sept. 9. The district will then continue to follow its Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule moving forward.
Following discussions with the Department of Health, Shamokin Area Superintendent Chris Venna, Line Mountain Superintendent Dave Campbell and James Catino, administrative director of the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center, Cheddar said students are permitted to attend in-person classes at the center.
The district concluded the release by imploring the community, students, parents and guardians to make the current situation a “temporary pause” by following CDC and Department of Health guidelines, including social distancing, wearing face coverings in public, frequent washing of hands and limiting social gatherings.