• Safety & Security

    Posted by David Finnerty on 5/25/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove School District Community.

     

    We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Uvalde, Texas. Please know that the safety and security of our staff and students is of the utmost importance.  

     

    We are extremely sensitive to the stress, anxiety, and fear that this incident will cause for many in our school community. Our counselors are prepared to speak to any students and staff this week who would like some support in coping with the aftermath of this tragedy.

     

    In the wake of the tragic rash of school shootings across the nation during the last 15 years, our District has worked diligently to improve safety and security in our schools. We have also dedicated increasing resources to improve student mental and emotional health. We must continue to focus on this important issue.

     

    We want all of our students to feel safe and secure in our schools and we want parents to feel confident in sending their children to our buildings. We will do all we can to ensure that happens.

     

    If you would like some support in talking with your children about this incident, the following are some resources you might consider:

     

    Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

    Helping Your Child Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

    Helping Children Cope with Frightening News

     

    We all play an important role in the safety of our schools.  Safe2Say is a youth violence prevention program that teaches youth and adults how to recognize warning signs and signals from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to “say something” BEFORE it is too late. The Safe2Say website is monitored constantly and all reports are taken seriously. 

     

    Thank you for reading.  As always, we welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed. D

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

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  • Survey Results and District Goals

    Posted by David Finnerty on 4/26/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove School District Community.

     

    Spring is a very busy time of year in the District!  This week alone we have PSSA assessments, Ringing Rocks Art Show & Book Fair, and the 66th Annual Color Day at PGHS!  Behind the scenes, one big task is setting the course for our District with the drafting of our District Goals for 2022-23.  A great deal of work goes into drafting these goals and a great deal more work goes into making goals into a reality.  

     

    One of our current District Goals is to, “Measurably improve communication and collaboration with shareholder groups (staff, parents, students, and community members.)”  Over the winter, we collected feedback from stakeholder groups including parents, community members, staff, and students at Lower Pottsgrove Elementary, Pottsgrove Middle School and Pottsgrove High School.  In total, we reviewed 2,244 surveys and read 785 open-ended responses including 580 open-ended responses from students.  We are extremely grateful for your participation and feedback!  

     

    We have created summaries of the results for our Parent Survey, Student Surveys (Lower Pottsgrove Elementary, Pottsgrove Middle School, and Pottsgrove High School), and our Community Survey.  We lightly edited survey responses for these summaries - we removed any personally identifying information, as well as most names, and made minor grammatical corrections to improve the readability of the response. You can view the summaries for each of these surveys on our website.

     

    On our May 17th Professional Development Day, our teams will be meeting to discuss our current District Goals and review feedback from each of these surveys.  From there the next steps will be to incorporate the work of our building level teams into district goals for the 2022-23 school year.  We anticipate several of our goals will be similar to our current goals chief among them, continuing to improve student achievement.  We also anticipate new goal areas based upon shareholder feedback.  We expect to finalize our 2022-23 District Goals prior to the end of the school year.

     

    Another one of our current District Goals is to, “Strengthen community relations and have students experience the “ethic” and “benefit” of community service by increasing the number of service projects and the number of students participating in these projects.”  At our last meeting of our Co-curricular, Athletics, and Community Relations Committee, Mr. Anspach shared our year-to-date progress and plans for our upcoming Day of Service on May 17th.  Year-to-date more than 308 students in the District have given their time to support more than 28 separate community service projects.  We are moving forward with a number of additional projects on our campuses and in collaboration with our township leaders.  

     

    At the same meeting, Mr. Anspach shared great news about our athletics program.  PGSD has been approved to add Bocce as part of our Unified Sports program for 2022-23.  Bocce is a much sought after program and it is a testament to our strong Unified Track & Field program that we were able to add Bocce.  We are also moving forward with plans to livestream athletic events beginning in the 2022-23 school year.  

     

    Lastly, the Sanatoga Post ran a nice story on our upcoming Athletic Hall of Fame induction and our Pottsgrove Education Foundation Fun Run.  The Education Foundation is a great organization whose mission is to “ensure the highest level of educational innovation supporting students, faculty, and staff through community involvement in a partnership of lifetime learning.”  Please consider supporting these wonderful events!

     

    Thanks for reading.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Comments (-1)
  • The 3 A's and Student Surveys

    Posted by David Finnerty on 3/27/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove SD Community!

     

    Winter’s last chill may be blowing in this week but Spring has indeed sprung in the Grove!  

     

    For this blog, I am writing about each of the “3 A’s” of education (Academics, Arts, and Athletics) and information about our upcoming Student Surveys. 

     

    On the academic front, one of our District Goals is to develop and implement programs which measure and significantly close the gap resulting from COVID learning loss.  Reviewing the recently released PSSA and Keystone scores affirmed that COVID learning loss is real and significant.  Using a variety of assessments, earlier this year we identified students who experienced significant learning loss.  To address this learning loss, we are offering free after-school tutoring programs at each of our schools with District transportation.  Each of our buildings has extended invitations to families of students in need of additional support.   We urge all families with students in need of additional support to take advantage of this opportunity.  If you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s Principal.  This after school tutoring program is funded by the American Rescue Plan - ESSER grant using funds targeted specifically for closing the learning gap due to COVID.  We invite you to share your feedback on the District’s investment of ARP-ESSER funds using our ARP ESSER Survey.

     

    Another District Goal is to create a Career Internship program for High School Seniors.  As we shared at the last Board meeting, in a survey last fall, 70% of current 11th Grade students expressed interest in pursuing an internship.  Our Western Montgomery CTC students have for years appreciated the benefit of real-world work experience, but our full day PGHS students have not had that option.  We are proud to now offer internships to full day PGHS seniors.  Internships are an excellent way to gain real-world experience while getting High School credit at the same time.  Additionally, for college bound students, internships can be an excellent way to give your college application a competitive advantage.  If your 11th Grade student is interested in pursuing an internship next year, please encourage them to reach out to their School (Guidance) Counselor.  

     

    Yet another one of our District Goals is to improve communication and collaboration with all shareholder groups (parents, staff, students, and community members).  Earlier this year we developed and administered three separate surveys for Parents, Staff, and Community members.  We are pleased to share that we developed Student Surveys for students in grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  Each of the surveys was developed using the Pennsylvania Department of Education Climate Survey and questions from our previous shareholder surveys.  You can view the surveys on our website.  We will be administering these surveys next week.  We will use student survey data along with data from our other surveys to identify areas of improvement.  We will also share the results at our Athletics/Co-Curricular/Community Committee meeting in April.

     

    The Arts have quite literally taken center stage in the past few weeks.  Our PGHS Theater Company will present their version of Beauty and the Beast on March 30, 31, and April 1 at 7 PM.  Our student players are incredibly excited to perform for the community and asked me to help get the word out.  You can learn more about the PGHS Theater program and buy tickets on our website.   Tickets will also be available at the door.  Based upon the outstanding performance of Matilda Jr. put on by our Middle School students last week, Beauty and the Beast is a must see event!  For fans of the visual arts, the 8th Annual Tri-County High School Exhibition at the Montgomery County Community College - North Hall Gallery, 16 East High Street is open through April 8th and features 12 pieces from our PGHS students.  

     

    On the athletic fields, our Spring sports have kicked off at our Middle and High School.  I look forward to rooting on our Falcon student athletes and I hope to see you out there!  In addition to our PIAA sports (Baseball, Lacrosse, Softball, Boys Tennis, and Track & Field), PGSD is proud to partner with Special Olympics for our 2nd year of Unified Track.  

     

    Montgomery County remains in the “Low” category for Community Transmission.  COVID cases remain low with just 4 positive cases reported to the District in the past 2 weeks.  Based upon the Low Community Transmission we will stop using our auxiliary gymnasiums as secondary cafeterias at the Middle and High School buildings beginning April 1.  We are prepared to offer seating accommodations for students who request additional physical distancing during lunches.  

     

    Thank you for reading.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Comments (-1)
  • CDC Guidance

    Posted by David Finnerty on 2/27/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove SD Community,

     

    Based upon the February 25th CDC guidance, masks will no longer be required in Pottsgrove School District buildings and buses effective immediately.  

     

    The new CDC guidance replaced Level of Community Transmission with a new metric, COVID-19 Community Level.  The COVID-19 Community Level is based upon a “combination of three metrics - new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.”  The COVID-19 Community Level categorizes risk in three levels: High, Medium, and Low with a recommendation for universal masking in only the High category.  Currently, Montgomery County is Medium which does not include a recommendation for universal masking.  

     

    You can read more about the COVID-19 Community Levels and their recommendations on their website:

     

    At our last meeting, the Board directed administration to prepare an update to our Health & Safety Plan to include additional metrics to measure the risk of COVID in our schools and community.  With their updated guidance, the CDC has done that.  We will hold a virtual Special Board meeting on Wednesday to update our Health & Safety Plan to reflect the new CDC guidance.  

     

    We are very proud to have been able to keep our schools open every day this school year and to have only canceled one event due to COVID.  We are also proud of how our community responded to the often divisive issue of masking and other COVID mitigation steps.  We engaged one another, often passionately, but avoided the disruptive, disorderly conduct so many other districts have experienced.  

     

    Thank you for your continued support.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

     

    Comments (-1)
  • February 22 Board Meeting

    Posted by David Finnerty on 2/21/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove SD Community,

    I hope you are enjoying President’s Day weekend.  On Tuesday, our Board will meet on a number of important agenda items.  You can view the full agenda on our website.   

     

    In our Action Items - Education, we are recommending approval of two changes to the Health & Safety Plan.  First, to remove the limitations on visitors in our schools.  Principals will have the flexibility to admit visitors according to our published visitor and volunteer procedures.  Second, masks will be optional for students in afterschool activities in which students are actively participating in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities including athletics and musical performances.  This change applies the same mask exception that we have been using all year in our athletic practices and competitions to our student actors in our musical performances.  Those of you who have attended any indoor Falcon athletic competitions this year have seen our student athletes unmasked while competing and masked when not competing.  Pending Board approval, this same standard will apply to our student performers.  

     

    During the Report of the Superintendent, I will be sharing some information on the present state of COVID in our community and facilitating a discussion among Board members on masking.   As shown on our COVID Dashboard, as of February 15th, the Level of Community Transmission and the COVID cases in our District have declined significantly in the last three weeks.  While we still remain in the High Level of Community Transmission at 139 cases per 100,000, the decline in COVID is great news.  Our Health & Safety Plan calls for a universal mask mandate while the Level of Community Transmission is in the High or Substantial categories.  If the trend continues, the Level of Community Transmission may fall below the 50 cases per 100,000 threshold for the Moderate category.  At two consecutive weeks in Moderate or below, masks would be optional for all students, staff, and visitors. 

     

    Area districts experiencing similar decreases in the Level of Community Transmission have taken a variety of approaches.  Some districts have opted to remain consistent with the MCOPH Guidance and keep universal masking in place until the Level of Community Transmission drops to Moderate or below.  Some districts have opted to transition to mask optional at Substantial.  Some districts have selected a date to end universal masking regardless of Level of Community Transmission.  Locally one district (Perkiomen Valley) and at least two others statewide (Upper Saint Clair and North Allegheny) are court mandated to maintain universal masking pending lawsuits based upon the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  These districts have lost local control of their Health & Safety Plan due to legal action.  

     

    The CDC has announced that they will be releasing updated guidance rumored to pertain to masks sometime in the next week or so.  MCOPH typically follows with guidance that aligns to CDC.  Whether by dropping into the Moderate Level of Community Transmission or by a change in guidance, it appears likely that, unless trends shift yet again, we will be moving toward a mask optional environment in our schools in the coming weeks.  For families that are concerned about exposure to COVID in a mask optional environment, some mitigation measures will still be in place including universal masking on buses and access to testing. Importantly, better quality masks (e.g. N95, KN-95, etc.) are much more readily available than earlier in the pandemic.  At this point, the Administration is not recommending changing our universal masking.  We are recommending a wait and see approach to allow time for the Level of Community Transmission to drop further and to receive updated guidance from CDC/MCOPH.

     

    Our Board will not only be discussing our Health and Safety Plan but also our progress toward our District Goals.  In our Report of the Curriculum, Integration, and Technology Committee, we will share encouraging data on student growth in math and reading.  Additionally, we will be asking the Board to approve edInsight as our new data dashboard replacing ECCRA.  EdInsight is a powerful tool to help teachers use data to create better learning outcomes for our students.  It is also part of our longer term plan to reduce the amount of time students spend testing and instead use that time learning.  Lastly, we are excited to present Dr. Jeffrey Smith for approval as the next Pottsgrove High School Principal.  His extensive background and experience improving student outcomes aligns well with our District Goals and vision for Pottsgrove School District.

     

    Thank you for reading.  As always, I welcome any feedback.

    Respectfully,

    David

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Comments (-1)
  • Administrative Staffing

    Posted by David Finnerty on 2/15/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove Community!

     

    I hope that this email finds you well as we look forward to the warmer weather on the horizon.  Please note that we have a normal school day this Thursday, February 17th and an early dismissal on Friday, February 18th.  This is the make-up day from the January 7th snow day.  You can see our School Calendar on our website.

     

    There is a great deal going on in our District!  COVID numbers are declining rapidly.  We are seeing improvement in attendance.  We are making progress on several of our District Goals.  Later this week I will be writing more about these items.  For this blog, I am writing to share the changes in our administrative team.

     

    We will have new leadership at our High School moving forward.  As you may know, on February 8th our Board approved the retirement of our High School Principal, Dr. Bill Ziegler, and accepted the resignation of our High School Assistant Principal, Mr. Eric Daney.  Principals, especially high school Principals, tend not to last long.  We have been blessed with the strong, consistent leadership of Dr. Ziegler and Mr. Daney for many years.    Dr. Ziegler is moving on to work in the Educational Division of Apple computer and Mr. Daney will be the Supervisor of STEM at Pennridge School District.  Dr. Ziegler and Mr. Daney will be with us through March 25th.  We thank both Dr. Ziegler and Mr. Daney for their leadership at our High School and wish them well in future endeavors.  

     

    Our plan to support the High School has two components.  First, we need to hire excellent leaders.  The interview process for our HS Principal will consist of 3 rounds and include students, parents, teachers, support staff, School Board members, and administrators.  The interview process has begun.  We received 27 qualified applicants for High School Principal.  Through our screening process and first round interviews, we have identified six candidates worthy of additional consideration.  This week we are conducting two additional rounds of interviews and hope to have an outstanding candidate for Board approval as early as February 22nd.  Interviews for our Assistant Principal will follow shortly after.  Second, we need to ensure that we have administrative support in place for the remainder of the school year.  Our HS Dean of Students, Mr. Jonathan Veser, will continue to serve in that role and support students and staff.  Additionally, we will be hiring an experienced  interim administrator and shifting roles at the District Office to provide administrative support. 

     

    At the same meeting, the Board approved the promotion of Mr. Ron Linke as Business Administrator.  Ron has served the District as Assistant Business Manager for 13 years and has been serving as Interim Business Administrator since July.  We will be eliminating the position of Assistant Business Manager.  

     

    Last but not least, the Board approved Ms. Yvette Young as our new Director of Facilities.  Ms. Young brings a wealth of education and experience to the District.  Yvette comes to Pottsgrove from various leadership positions with US Facilities including managing the operations and maintenance for nearly 30 buildings at Cheyney University’s 275 acre campus.  Additionally, she is familiar with public education having previously managed contracts and daily operations of multiple departments and facilities in the School District of Philadelphia.  Ms. Young will join PGSD on February 28th taking over for Mr. Jeff Cardwell.  

     

    Thank you for reading.  As always, I welcome your feedback.  

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed. D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Comments (-1)
  • School Calendars and Updated Health & Safety Plan

    Posted by David Finnerty on 1/13/2022

    Hello Pottsgrove SD Community,

     

    For this blog, I am writing to update you on revisions to our 2021-22 School Calendar and an update to our Health & Safety Plan. If you haven’t yet shared your feedback, please consider completing our brief Parent Survey.  Your feedback is critically important to us - we will use this feedback to guide our work moving forward. 

     

    Last evening our Board approved changes to our 2021-22 School Calendar.   There are 5 changes to note.

    • February 17th will be a full Student Day
    • February 18th will be a Student Day with a 2-Hour Early Dismissal - this is the makeup for the January 7th Snow Day
    • April 13th will be a full Student Day
    • April 14th will become a Student Day if we have another Snow Day 
    • May 27th will be a 2-Hour Early Dismissal day

    The reason for the changes is to allow for 2 in-person makeup days without extending the school year.  

     

    You can also view a draft of the 2022-23 Student Calendar on our website.  This draft was developed with feedback from a group of teacher leaders, PTO parent leaders, and administrators.  At last night’s Board meeting I shared the thought process behind the calendar development:

    • Make up snow days in person DURING the school year.  In-person learning is best.  Building in makeup days is better than tacking on days at the end of the year.  To the greatest extent possible, we should fix the last day - stakeholders should know that the school year will end on a specified date.
    • End the year as near to Memorial Day as possible. 
    • Standardize ONE early dismissal schedule.  Currently we have two different early dismissal schedules (2 hour and 1/2 day).   
    • Make the calendar easy to read.  Publish a Student Calendar that only contains information that families need.  Internally we will have a Staff Calendar with the information from the Student Calendar plus additional staff information (e.g. Act 80, Set-up days, etc.)

     

    Also last night, we updated our Health & Safety Plan to include new guidance from Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH).  There are four new pieces of guidance:

    • Recommendation for COVID-19 Prevention for K-12 Schools
    • Guidance for Prioritizing Contact Tracing focuses contact tracing on High-Risk activities and cafeterias where students are unmasked.  Eliminates contact tracing in classrooms and buses where students are masked.
    • Mask-to-Stay allows students and staff – those who are not up to date with vaccination or are unvaccinated, and who were exposed to COVID in school or in the community and remain asymptomatic – to return to school for learning or work purposes with masking at all times when around other people AND receive one antigen test between days 4 through 6 after exposure. This does NOT include Household Contacts.  This is nearly identical to the previous definition for Test-to-Stay.
    • Test-to-Stay is a new program exclusively for staff with household contacts that allows staff to continue to work as long as they remain asymptomatic and test negative prior to work each day for the 10-day quarantine period.

     

    Over the past week, as the COVID numbers have climbed, I have had a few conversations with parents and students about moving to virtual instruction.  First, I want to thank these parents and students for reaching out to me and sharing their time and their passion for our community.  Now onto the question of in-person instruction versus virtual instruction.

     

    Despite the increasing COVID numbers, public health experts at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), MCOPH, and others continue to support in-person instruction.  In my letter earlier this week I shared guidance from MCOPH and CHOP supporting continued in-person instruction.  CHOP’s Policy Lab recently published another report supporting in-person instruction:

     

    With evidence that COVID-19 is becoming a milder infection in most children, and at a time when all adults and youth in K-12 settings have been offered vaccination, our PolicyLab experts and CHOP clinical leadership have reached a consensus that preserving as much in-person schooling as possible outweighs the risks of infections to children and school staff at this stage of the pandemic. 

     

    You can read the full report on their website.   

     

    We will continue to prioritize in-person instruction unless our public health agencies advise differently or if we are unable to staff our schools.  The benefits of in-person instruction go well beyond simply the undeniable impact our teachers have on learning compared to virtual environments.  

     

    I know that this has been a challenging time for many in our community. 

     

    Thank you for reading and as always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Comments (-1)
  • Parent Survey

    Posted by David Finnerty on 12/16/2021

    Hello Pottsgrove Community,

     

    I am writing to share our 2021-22 District Goals and some of the work that is moving forward.   Pennsylvania code requires that the Superintendent be evaluated annually by the Board and that this evaluation be based in part on objective performance standards that are accessible to the public.  Our 2021-22 District Goals serve that function.  I invite you to give them a read.

    Over the next few months, we will be presenting progress updates on these goals at our committee meetings and full Board meetings.  

     

    In a previous blog, I highlighted a few goal areas including addressing COVID learning loss, creating an internship program at our High School, and expanding our service to the community.  In this blog, I would like to share our vision for communication and collaboration with shareholder groups including staff, parents, students, and community members.

     

    While our District Goals are organized in 4 separate domains (Student Achievement, School Culture, Safety & Advocacy, and Project Development & Financial Management), the overall theme is improving student outcomes.  We believe that communication and collaboration with shareholders is an important part of improving student outcomes.  The first step in this goal is to survey shareholders.  Working with teachers, parents and administrators, we developed a short survey.  We ask that you complete this Parent Survey and share your feedback with us.  Together, we will continue our work to make this District the very best that it can be.

     

    Thank you for reading.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Comments (-1)
  • Health & Safety Plan Update December 2021

    Posted by David Finnerty on 12/1/2021

    Hello Pottsgrove Community,

     

    I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break!    

     

    As you may know, the PA Commonwealth Court and most recently, the PA Supreme Court, have been going back and forth regarding the PA Statewide mask mandate.  Based on yesterday's ruling by the PA State Supreme Court the PA Statewide mask mandate remains in effect through December 8th when the Court is due to hear the case.  It is not clear what the Court will do on December 8th or even if they will issue a ruling.  If the Court overturns the Statewide mandate, the masking decisions will return to local control.  

     

    To provide a clear plan for the District, especially with the lack of clarity from the State, we have rescheduled our Board meeting for Thursday, December 2nd at 7:30 PM.  On the agenda is our administrative recommendation for the Health & Safety Plan.  We will be recommending masking based upon the Level of Community Transmission in the District with universal masking in High and Substantial as shown in the table below.

     

    I don’t like masks.  I don’t like that we are nearly two years into this pandemic and we are still wearing masks.  What I do like is in-person instruction...and athletics...and concerts...and dances….and all the other activities that can only happen when we are in-person.  We are making this recommendation to the Board because we believe it represents the best path forward to keep schools open for in-person instruction.  

     

    There are quarantining rules that we must follow.  Many districts, including several of our neighboring districts, have been required to close entire schools or part of schools due to outbreaks of COVID.  Several districts have had to cancel athletic events and activities due to COVID outbreaks.  We have successfully conducted 58 days of in-person instruction without any COVID closures.  We have successfully completed an outstanding fall athletics season without any COVID cancellations.  This is worth celebrating.  I am very much looking forward to our upcoming winter sports seasons and holiday music events.  

      

    We updated our COVID-19 Dashboard to include the Level of Community Transmission.  You can also view the data directly on Montgomery County Office of Public Health's (MCOPH) COVID-19 Dashboard website.   I have attached the full presentation that I will be making at the meeting and a draft copy of the updated Health & Safety Plan. You can also view the full Board agenda on our website.

     

    Thank you for reading.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Twitter: @PGSDSuper

    Instagram: PGSDSuper

    Comments (-1)
  • Rapid Antigen Testing

    Posted by David Finnerty on 10/26/2021

    Hello PGSD Community, 

     

    Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) recently made a change to the rules on excluding/quarantining students who have symptoms associated with COVID-19.  MCOPH describes this as “Point of Care”.  Previously, we had to exclude any student that was showing symptoms that could be associated with COVID-19.  COVID-19 has many potential symptoms that are common to colds, allergies, or other medical conditions.  To rule out COVID-19, MCOPH will now allow PGSD, with parent permission, to use rapid antigen testing for symptomatic students with no known exposure to a COVID-19 positive person.

     

    Why the change? MCOPH found in their analysis that rapid antigen testing is very effective, especially when symptoms are present.  The rule change allows PGSD to reduce, or in some cases, eliminate the need to exclude/quarantine symptomatic students provided that they have a negative antigen test for COVID-19.  “Symptomatic students” is our largest category of excluded students - in the past week we had to exclude 28 symptomatic students for a total of 158 Student Days Lost.  Rapid antigen testing could reduce the number of students we need to exclude and the number of days excluded students would have to quarantine.  

     

    Note - we will NOT offer Point of Care antigen testing to any student without a signed parental consent form on file.  If you would like to grant permission to the District to administer rapid antigen testing then you must fill out the Student Consent Form for COVID-19 Testing permission form and complete the Rapidtest registration.  You can access the form through our Parent Portal - we have provided step-by-step directions on accessing this form on our website.  If you would like to read a pdf version of the Student Consent Form for COVID-19 Testing permission form, you can view it on our website though we ask that you submit the form through the Parent Portal.  It is important to note that rapid antigen testing will only be done with parent permission, no known exposure to a COVID positive person, and only when our nurses find it is medically appropriate to do so.  

     

    A few important notes worth mentioning/repeating:

    • As always, students should stay home when sick.  Our schools are not doctor’s offices.  Our school nurses are present to support students needing prescription medication, administer medical screenings, and treat students who develop symptoms during the school day.  
    • PGSD will not administer rapid antigen testing without a signed parental consent form and completed Rapidtest registration on file.  The form must be on file with our school nurse prior to a student reporting to the nurse’s office with symptoms.
    • Rapid antigen testing must be done under the guidance of a Certified Point of Care technician - we cannot accept tests done in the home as evidence of a negative test.
    • PGSD Point of Care testing should not in any way encourage parents to send symptomatic students to school - students should stay home when sick.  PGSD Point of Care is for students who develop symptoms during the school day.  
    • Like PCR testing, rapid antigen testing uses a nasal swab.  There are many videos on youtube and other services that show rapid antigen testing - you can view one by following this link.

     

    In the coming weeks, we anticipate approval for an additional testing protocol, “Test to Stay”, to keep close contacts in school - these would be unvaccinated students who were physically close to a positive COVID-19 case but who do not have symptoms.  We must wait for this program to be approved by MCOPH before we can implement it.  This program would require the same parental consent form.  

     

    Our Point of Care testing and the potential Test to Stay programs offer parents the opportunity to participate and shorten or eliminate the need for quarantining/isolation.  For parents that choose not to participate in these testing programs - nothing changes, we will continue to follow the rules for exclusion/quarantine as we have been.

     

    Thanks for reading.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

     

    Respectfully,

    David

     

    David Finnerty, Ed.D.

    Superintendent

    Pottsgrove School District

    dfinnerty@pgsd.org

    Twitter: @PGSDSuper

    Instagram: PGSDSuper

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