Local School Superintendents Discuss School Safety

According to statistics from Education Week, 2022 has already seen 27 school shootings with injuries and deaths in the U.S., with 83 people killed or injured. The grim tally includes the deaths of 24 children. School superintendents in the country’s 130,000 public and private schools are entrusted every school day to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for approximately 55 million elementary and secondary students. To learn how local districts meet the challenge, Gettysburg Connection talked with Littlestown Area School District Superintendent Christopher Bigger, Bermudian Springs School District Superintendent Dr. Shane Hotchkiss, and Gettysburg Area School District Superintendent Jason Perrin. “Safety has been a priority for many years; even prior to my tenure,” said Perrin. “We utilize a continuous improvement model, meaning we are always looking for reasonable and sustainable ways to maximize safety for our school community. We utilize external audits completed by third party vendors and by the PA State Police to assist in our improvement efforts.” The Pennsylvania Public School Code (Act 44) requires school districts to appoint school safety and security coordinators, establish mandatory school safety training for school employees, and establish standards for school police, resource officers, and security guards. Following Act 44, each district takes similar approaches to their daily safety procedures including both “hard” and “soft” techniques. On the “hard” side, districts have only a single point of entry to each building, require ID for entry, use security cameras, and hold evacuation and emergency protocol training for staff and students. But there is also a “soft side” that involves a focus on the mental health of students and faculty, as well as simply getting to know the students within the district.  “The power of Littlestown safety is in the number of counselors and support staff we have,” said Bigger. “These prevention safety measures can allow us to know and intervene before something happens.” Bigger said Littlestown has a licensed social worker, licensed mental health therapist, and a psychologist that assist in providing daily assistance. “We contract services through Cognitive Health Solutions to provide the program and staffing using ESSERS federal COVID dollars,” Bigger said.  “Students referred to the child study team in each building are analyzed for level of need and assigned an intervention based on staffing.  Sometimes the classroom teacher or the school counselor implements a strategy.” Bermudian also has growing resources related to mental health. “We have a school counselor in each of our buildings and a counselor that moves between the middle and high school,” said Hotchkiss.  “Additionally, we have had a substance abuse counselor for quite some time and have expanded her role in our district to include all buildings.” Bermudian additionally began utilizing Care Solice last year, which ensures that communities can reach reliable mental health services no matter the circumstances. As for the “hard” side of safety, Hotchkiss said Bermudian uses the “ALICE” program, provided by a third party, for safety training. ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. “We use ALICE as a tool. These are options and strategies for students and staff to utilize in an emergency,” said Hotchkiss.  “We revisit these drills and practices during faculty meetings.” ALICE training includes modules appropriate for different grade levels, using storybooks, hands-on activities, worksheets, and other methods. The curriculum provides language and concepts to facilitate learning about stranger danger, assault, abduction, and abuse at an age-appropriate level. Each district also works within the state’s youth violence prevention program Safe2SayPA. The program, run by the state Attorney General’s office, teaches children to recognize warning signs and signals, especially on social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to “say something before it is too late.” Hotkchiss said the program allows students to anonymously report unsafe and potentially dangerous activities, and helps students and staff to be diligent and observant, and to ask questions. Bigger recalled how a large change in security measures occurred in Adams County following the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “Post Parkland is when Adams County became much more conscious and consistent,” he said. “When Uvalde happened, we asked ourselves if we were still being consistent.  We keep trying to get better every year.” Bigger said Littlestown is as “as prepared as possible to react in an emergency,” and has employed a school resource safety officer since 2018. “The officer leads staff training, follows through on safety improvements, and leads efforts to ensure student, staff, and family compliance with safety procedures,” said Bigger.  “Since the hiring of a safety officer, our safety efforts have increased substantially, and we are maintaining the efforts deployed. For example, when we are required to perform safety drills the officer will coordinate the drills and then evaluate for improvement efforts.” “I think in trying to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning, while providing security and safety, we are in a good spot,” said Hotchkiss. “I believe all of our current efforts are both reasonable and sustainable in a public school environment,” said Perrin. “We will always review our protocols and make adjustments as warranted to mitigate safety concerns.”

Pa. is trying county fairs, text messages, and door-knocking to raise the vaccination rate. Success is slow coming.

By Jamie Martines of Spotlight PA Nicole Diehl attended the Wayne County Fair in northeastern Pennsylvania last weekend, not for the livestock exhibitions, carnival games, demolition derbies, or tractor pulls. Instead, the registered nurse was on hand as part of an effort to make it as easy as possible to get vaccinated — a goal that’s become even more critical as new cases of COVID-19 creep up in Pennsylvania. “It’s right here, they know it’s free, let’s just do it and get it done with,” said Diehl, a 21-year veteran of the Wayne Memorial Health System, which is organizing the clinics. “I do believe convenience plays a big part in it.” In the first three days of the fair, 58 people agreed to be vaccinated. Several were preparing to travel or participate in gatherings like weddings, Diehl said, while many others were fair workers who will move on to jobs in other places. “Ten a day is more than nothing,” she said. “So if we can continue to get 10 a day, I’d be happy.” As of Aug. 9, nearly 64% of Pennsylvania adults were fully vaccinated. That’s a small increase compared with the previous month and a worrying plateau as the delta variant surges across the country. To motivate unvaccinated people to get a shot, state officials, health systems, and community groups are sending text messages, making house calls, and setting up clinics in convenient places, including several county fairs. The state Department of Health recently launched a text-message program to remind those who received their first dose between Dec. 14 and May 14, but who did not return for a second shot, to complete their vaccination. The first round of messages was sent to 254,850 people. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to announce a new initiative to boost vaccinations Tuesday afternoon, but additional details were not available Monday evening. Nearly all of the state’s recent deaths and hospitalizations have been among people who are not vaccinated, acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said in late July. “If we can move the needle there, that, of course, tamps down case counts, hospitalizations, and prevents deaths,” Beam said. “At this stage, these deaths are preventable.” Experts told Spotlight PA it’s not surprising that vaccination rates have slowed over the summer. Those who were sure about their decision to get vaccinated eagerly lined up in the spring. Still, state and local officials are worried that stagnating rates could lead to another fall surge, especially among vulnerable populations like children under 12 who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated, people with underlying health conditions who can’t get a shot, and the elderly. In the winter, Pennsylvania faced a sluggish vaccine rollout. Supply was drastically outpaced by demand, and a decentralized, mostly internet-based web of appointment registration sites made competing for a slot stressful and complicated. Now, misinformation and distrust of government are making the task of persuading the unvaccinated to get a shot even harder. “I think the answer is public education,” said Paul Heimel, a commissioner in Potter County, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the state. In Heimel’s north-central county, which has a population of 16,526, the share of vaccinated residents has hovered near or at 30% since late May. It’s one of about a dozen rural counties that has reported consistently stagnant vaccination rates since eligibility expanded in April. Transportation to vaccine sites was a problem in the rural county early on, Heimel said. Currently, vaccine hesitancy fueled by misinformation is the biggest issue keeping people from getting a shot. “We’re not going to stop,” Heimel said. “There’s science behind it, and it’s in the best public interest.” In recent months, the state Department of Health has worked with health systems and county officials to set up mass vaccination sites throughout the state, along with small, community-based clinics — with mixed success. The state targeted rural counties with little health-care infrastructure and many elderly residents with mass vaccination clinics that saw high turnout. All 500 appointments at a February clinic in Sullivan County were booked the week before an advertisement ran in the local paper, and all of them were filled the weekend of the clinic. Potter County officials partnered with the state Health Department to hold small vaccine clinics in remote parts of the county, but the turnout was “underwhelming, disappointing,” Heimel, the commissioner, said. The state awarded Latino Connection, a Harrisburg-based communications agency, a $1.8 million grant this spring to run daylong, mobile clinics across Pennsylvania in an effort to help close the stark racial disparity in vaccinations. About 71.3% of people statewide who have received at least one dose of a vaccine are white, while 5.1% are Black and 5% are Hispanic. In May, about 73% of people who met the same criteria were white, 4% were Black, and 4% were Hispanic. Race and ethnicity information for about 10% of vaccinated people in Pennsylvania is still unknown, state data show, and there are concerns the numbers may be inaccurate for Asian residents. With money awarded by the state, the United Way is currently managing $4 million in grants to support organizations doing vaccine education and outreach. So far, groups in Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh have received funding for vaccine education and events through the program. Applications are pending for groups in the majority-Hispanic city of Reading, as well as in rural Forest and Venango Counties, United Way of Pennsylvania president Kristen Rotz said. Many of the events are aimed at reaching children 12 and older, the youngest population eligible to receive the vaccine, and people in rural areas, Rotz said. Most events are small, with a goal of vaccinating 50 to 100 people, compared with the mass vaccination events that were more common in the spring. Our West Bayfront — a community organization in the city of Erie that provides housing resources, hosts community events, and supports local businesses — is among those receiving funding for education and small pop-up events in parks and residential areas. The group’s service area has one of the lowest shares of vaccinated residents in Erie County, at about 36%, local data show. The goal is to bring vaccines to those neighborhoods to make getting a shot easy and convenient for people living there, executive director Anna Frantz said. In addition to sharing informational fliers and launching paid social media advertisements, Frantz, two staff members, and a cohort of nearly a dozen volunteers knock on doors to personally talk to people about getting a vaccine. The group has seen some success. Previous clinics held in a local park and scheduled to coincide with a summer recreation series attracted younger adults and those motivated by the convenience of getting a vaccine in their neighborhood. But turnout is still low, even as the group tries to reach people personally or bring vaccines to their doorstep. Only four people received a vaccine during a recent National Night Out event, which was attended by about 1,000 people, Frantz said. “I was not expecting how difficult it would be given what a slog we’ve been through,” she said. Challenges in Pennsylvania mirror trends nationwide. “The issues left are vaccine hesitancy, or they don’t feel there’s a strong enough need to jump through the hoops they would need to to get the vaccine,” said Wendy King, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health who is studying vaccine hesitancy. Her research, which includes a nationwide survey of more than five million respondents, suggests that while vaccine hesitancy as a whole is decreasing, there’s still a consistent group of people who say they will “definitely not” get a vaccine, King said. Embed #4: Raw HTML Embed #4Many of those people said they didn’t trust the government or the vaccine, King said, making public health interventions or education efforts challenging. “It’s a little more difficult because it’s not exactly scientifically based,” she said. Local officials across Pennsylvania are seeing that type of distrust of government and public health sources, and much of it is driven by misinformation about vaccines, said Kevin Boozel, president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and a commissioner in Butler County. Boozel said it’s going to take people who aren’t “politicized,” like teachers, coaches, or faith leaders, to convince people who have not yet been reached. “I think that there’s still a political stigma around vaccines,” he said. “The reality is, the messaging can’t come from political leadership.”

Adams COVID Cases Jump Sharply, Stressing the Wellspan Health System and Gettysburg Hospital

After a summer that brought a consistently small number of new COVID cases, the fall has brought a spike in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to Adams County. The problem is acute and will probably get worse after the holiday season when people are likely to socialize and spread the virus, and as we head into flu season. To prevent the spread of the virus:• Limit gathering sizes – even small gatherings carry big risk. • Avoid eating or drinking in groups.• Follow masking and social distancing guidelines.• Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently. Gettysburg hospital, which had an average of only one or two COVID patients over the summer months today has 15 COVID patients. The number of patients on ventilators, which was at zero over the summer, has risen to three in the past week. Wellspan reported that although treatments are getting better, the average stay for a COVID patient in the hospital is nine or ten days. Wellspan is responding to the crisis by recruiting resources and making plans for alternatives. Wellspan said the hospital may need to close outpatient centers to move staff to care for COVID patients. “We have the flu season and COVID 19 colliding over the next few months. Whether our health systems will have the capacity to deal with both is a question,” said Roxanna L. Gapstur, Ph.D., R.N., Wellspan’s president and CEO. More young people are being infected. “We have some very sick young people in our hospitals,” said Anthony Aquilina D.O., Wellspan’s Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive. Adams County’s percent testing positivity rate — the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are positive– made a 22 percent jump this week from 4.8 percent to 5.9 percent. This means there are many more people with the virus in the county. State and National health organizations frequently use a 5% cutoff as a sign that the virus is not under control in a region. Under these circumstances stricter regulations regarding wearing masks, physical distancing, and avoiding large gatherings are likely to be imposed. The number of COVID cases jumped almost 9 percent to 1,341 with 162 new COVID cases this week. This is the largest one-week increase since the pandemic began. The county’s death rate increased by three, after jumping by four last week, reaching a total of 34 deaths in the county. Wellspan said communities of color are particularly hard hit by COVID and that mental health is also being negatively affected. “It’s important we each take the time to practice safe, healthy behaviors. A little goes a long way,” said Aquilina.

State Senate Candidate Rich Sterner Injured in Gettysburg

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the incident occurred on the Gettysburg Square. The incident occurred on Breckenridge St. in Gettysburg. Listen to an interview with candidate Sterner Local candidate for the 33rd State Senate District Rich Sterner has reported on Facebook that he was pushed and injured during a Black Lives Matter march yesterday afternoon. Sterner said: “Around 2:40 p.m. I was trying to get between a very angry man (cursing and yelling) trying to disrupt a peaceful BLM march I was participating in. This man suddenly and forcefully pushed me backwards. I fell requiring a few minor repairs at Gettysburg Hospital. The man was arrested. The Gettysburg Police responded and did a good job. I am resting with my family tonight and ready to campaign in Chambersburg tomorrow! ALWAYS FORWARD!”

2020 Adams County PA Voter Guide and Election Updates – How to Vote in Adams County

Please see our Candidate Profile Page See A Sample Copy of Your Ballot ​As election day for the 2020 presidential elections approaches, the Adams County Board of Elections is preparing to handle the large volume of ballots that will be cast. Director of Elections & Voter Registration Angie Crouse is expecting her office will count over 50,000 ballots on election day, many of which will be mail-ins.   “We are hoping the legislators will allow us to start opening (but not counting) ballots prior to election day,” said Crouse.  “In the primary election in May we did not finish counting until 1:00 p.m. the next day.” “We are only three people now, but we’re working on hiring more for keying in, opening, ballots, and extra help,” said Crouse. “We’ll get through it. We’re a very determined office.” “All I want to do is to have a clean election. Let us vote and be done,” said Crouse. Crouse reminded voters of the following dates for the upcoming election and answered some of the most common questions her office is asked: Voting Schedule Last day to register to vote:  October 19 Last day to request a mail-in ballot: October 27, but legislators may be changing that date to be earlier. Ballots mailed to voters:  September or October. More people are still trying to get on the ballot which is delaying the final approval of the ballots. Election day:  November 3 Mail-in ballots must be RECEIVED at the courthouse by November 3 at 8:00 p.m..  Crouse suggests you fill in your ballot and return it as soon as you receive it in the mail.  Crouse said average mail times in the county are five days or longer. Frequently Asked Questions How Do I Register to Vote? Complete the Voter Registration Mail In Application.  Mail in the form by October 19 or drop it off at the County Courthouse. How Do I Request a Mail-in Ballot? Download and complete the form which is available on the county website.  Mail in the form by October 27 or drop it off at the County Courthouse. How do I know if I will receive a ballot in the mail? You can track your mail-in ballot here. Residents who have selected annual status will receive a ballot in the mail, probably by the end of September or early October.  If you included an email application when you applied for your permanent status you will receive an email from the state telling you that your ballot will be coming. How Do I Fill out My Ballot? It is important that you follow the directions on the green sheet that comes with your ballot. “You really need to do the security,” said Crouse. BE SURE TO SIGN THE DECLARATION ON THE BACK OF THE ENVELOPE.  Your vote cannot be processed if you don’t sign the declaration. Can I drop off my Ballot? Yes.  There will be a drop box in the Adams County Courthouse at 111 Baltimore St, in Gettysburg. The box will be available between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  You do not have to go through security to drop off your ballot. Can I Vote in Person if I Have Already Mailed in my Ballot? No, the registrars at your polling place will know you have already returned your ballot and will not let you vote. Can I Cancel my Mail-In Ballot and Vote in Person Instead? Yes. There are two ways to do this: Find the cancellation from which is available on the county website.  Send it in to the voters’ office or drop it off at the courthouse. Or on election day, take your ballot with you to the polls where you can return it and vote in person. 

Armed Robbery at West Street Rite Aid

Officers from the Gettysburg Police were dispatched to the Rite Aid Store at 231 West St., Gettysburg, on Tuesday shortly before 9:00 p.m. where they discovered a robbery that had just occurred.  Preliminary investigation revealed that two or three actors entered the establishment armed with pepper spray and physically forced employees to the rear of the store in front of the pharmacy area.  One of the actors entered the pharmacy area, physically assaulted the pharmacist, and demanded controlled substances.  The pharmacist was forced to relinquish the requested item(s).   The actor sprayed the employees and the rear of the store with the pepper spray before running from the establishment.  The actor(s) then fled the scene in an unknown direction in a white four door sedan, possibly a Subaru.  The police said that due to the introduction of the pepper spray, which is classified as an inflammatory agent, the Gettysburg Fire Department responded to the scene to ventilate the building.  National Park Service Law Enforcement also responded to assist at the scene.  The pharmacist who was assaulted was transported to the Gettysburg Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the crime.   The Rite Aid store was open for business on Wednesday morning. Anyone who may have witnessed suspicious activity in the area or the robbery itself is asked to contact Gettysburg Borough Police at (717) 334-1168

Open Letter to Borough Council Members

[This letter was written to members of the Gettysburg Borough Council and was read aloud at the council meeting on Monday July 13.] To the Council members of Gettysburg Borough: As we all know, on July 4th this year, hundreds of people came to Gettysburg in response to an online and unsubstantiated rumor that Antifa or some similar group would be coming to vandalize monuments and flags. Much like what happened in July of 2017, many of the people who came here, saying they were “protecting” the battlefield and town, were armed with a variety of weapons, including a great number of assault weapons like the AR-15. When it is clear that there is going to be a large public demonstration seeking to reinforce the myth that the Confederacy is something to be remembered only with honor and reverence, I think it is important to attempt to correct that myth that has been based on a century of bad history. It is important to tell the whole story of the Civil War, including that the primary organizing principle of the Confederate government was, as numerous Confederate leaders said repeatedly before and during the war, to maintain the right to own slaves. This was perhaps most concisely stated in all capital letters by Richmond newspaper Southern Punch in 1864, “WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED.” In short, I think it is important not to suppress history, but to have more of it. Two days before, I sent an email to a five friends and let them know I was planning on going to three Confederate state monuments. Two of them, a father and son named Jim and Jimmy Schambach, live in Mechancisburg; the other three, Shawn Palmer, Clotaire Celius, Gavin Foster and myself live here. Three of us are Black and three are White. My son and I made miniature flags & my wife made signs on Friday night. That’s the level and limit of organization. Two documentary filmmakers, through another friend, contacted me on Friday and found out what I was planning and asked if they could come film the next day. What they saw was dozens of people, many armed with assault weapons, clearly trying to intimidate us, yelling racist insults at us, taking pictures of our license plates, following us to our cars and cheering when we left the Virginia and Mississippi monuments as though they and their AR-15s had successfully driven off our invading “army” of six men in shorts and flip flops, armed with signs, cell phones and water bottles, and then following us for two miles until I turned toward the middle school because that’s where Shawn Palmer had told me the police had set up camp. The actual armed invaders of Gettysburg were not here to protect history. They were not afraid of history being erased. They were afraid of more history and more truth. The vast majority of those who came to Gettysburg on July 4th, a day that we remember as founding a country in which the right to free speech is not only protected but highly valued, did not want  to protect free speech. They wanted to suppress free speech. If you think I’m exaggerating, I’d point to the first conversation we had at the North Carolina monument, where an armed woman told us if she saw somebody burning a flag—which a  constitutionally protected exercise of the first amendment—she would kill them. Maybe she was exaggerating to make a point, though when I asked her if a flag was worth the same as a human life, she would not answer. It’s important to keep in mind that one of the best uses of Gettysburg National Military Park is to teach children and families about United States history. In any normal summer, we have all seen busloads of school kids on the battlefield. We’ve seen families with kids of all ages. This should not be a place filled with angry people with AR-15s and other weapons. In 2017, a man accidentally shot himself with his gun. This year, I’m told somebody dropped a gun in a parking lot. Will we wait until there’s an accident that kills one of those schoolkids? I’m not entirely sure what the solution is. I understand second amendment rights. I do not understand why these kinds weapons in particular should be permitted at Gettysburg National Military Park that has a specific function of educating the public, including our children. Sincerely and respectfully, Scott Hancock

Gettysburg Area School District Proposes Reopening Plan

A boisterous and sometimes rowdy crowd of citizens gathered in the Gettysburg Middle School auditorium last night as the school board began its discussion of the health and safety plan that will guide how students return to school in August. Superintendent Jason Perrin presented an outline of a proposed plan which will be finalized by a vote of the school board at its next meeting on August 3. Perrin said the administration had sent a survey to parents in June about the topic and then convened a team of 20 or more people who worked together to create the preliminary plan. Perrin said the district would be getting more feedback over the next weeks.  The proposed plan will be distributed to parents later this week along with a follow-up survey. Perrin also said focus groups would be held. “We want schools to reopen safely for all students,” said Perrin. “We want to try to reopen as responsibly as we can so we can stay open.” Perrin said the plan was designed to be fluid, and could be followed even if the county is forced to move back into the yellow phase.  “We want a single plan that can be utilized regardless of the phase,” said Perrin.  Plan Essentials The plan includes guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing, particularly of high traffic areas, during the day. In terms of transportation, Perrin said school buses would run with two children per seat and face masks required. Other notable aspects of the plan: Students in kindergarten through sixth grade and children with specialty needs would attend school every day. Grades 7-12 would have a blended, rotating schedule, in which children worked from home every other day. Perrin said families with children in different grades would be placed on the same rotating schedule. A 100% online option, offered through the Gettysburg Area Virtual Academy, would be available for families who choose that option. These children would have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular school activities. Teachers, rather than students, would rotate through classrooms. Face coverings would be required when entering and exiting the school and when social distancing is not possible, but would be recommended but optional at other times. Perrin proposed the school start date be moved from August 19 to August 24 to allow extra days of professional development so teachers could learn the new learning management system. “There isn’t a plan that is going to make everybody happy. Our goal is to do the best we can get as many kids back face to face as we can in a responsible way so we can remain open,” said Perrin. Public Reaction After Perrin’s presentation, fourteen audience members gave public comment, almost entirely around the issue of requiring face masks for children.  The speakers all expressed concern for the children, but came to different conclusions about the issue. About half of the presenters were in favor of masks, saying they would slow the spread of the virus. Others were opposed to requiring masks, saying they would not be effective and citing notions of individual liberty. Each speaker received a ringing round of applause from the audience. The last speaker, Evan Kahn, a sophomore at the Gettysburg Area High School, said he thought the debate was “a waste of everyone’s time,” reminding the crowd that on July 1 Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine created a mandate that requires wearing a face mask in all public places, including local schools and district offices.  Kahn also noted that the State Supreme Court had already ruled that the face mask mandate was constitutional. “We’re debating a topic that’s already been decided by the governor and the State of Pennsylvania,” said Kahn. Board Members React Board President Kenneth Hassinger pointed out that the decisions made about reopening would be particularly critical for families such as “those who are working two jobs and who may have daycare issues.” He asked Perrin to be sure the focus groups being held over the next weeks include a diverse group of parents and community members. Hassinger also said the board had a “fantastic relationship with our teacher’s union.  It is paramount that the union be represented in the groups.  They have to have some representation on the committee.” Board member Sylvan Hershey read a quote that he attributed to President Trump: “Just because you have a right to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.”  Hershey said “You have to take a hard look at that statement.” Board member Carrie Soliday thanked Perrin for the work he and the administration had done on researching and creating the health and safety plan. She said she realized the administration had been looking forward over the past months to this decision and was aware of the responsibility the administration was taking on. She said she was that sure the “energy that you put into this” will create a successful plan. Board member Kathleen Pratt received a round of applause from the board and the audience as she thanked “everyone who came out tonight,” and then said: “When we discuss about the best way to get our kids back to school, we cannot do it from the lens of elephant or the lens of donkey.  I don’t have time for real or imagined agendas. I care about our kids. I care about our teachers. I care about our staff.” Pratt said she should be making her decision “through a lens of public health.”    

Hundreds Rally for Black Lives Matter on the Gettysburg Square

Over 300 vocal and peaceful protestors rallied on Gettysburg’s Lincoln Square Sunday afternoon in solidarity with the international Black Lives Matter human rights movement. “We’re here to protest police brutality. We are here to demand that Black lives matter! We are here to show our brothers and sisters that we stand with them and for them,” said organizer Matthew Anselmi. “We are out here because we’re in the midst of the single largest civil rights movement in world history. We come with a passion of a million suns burning for righteousness and justice,” said Anselmi.

Adams County Will Move to Green Stage Next Friday, Allowing All Businesses to Reopen

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced today that 12 more counties, including Adams, would be moved to the green phase of the state’s reopening plan beginning Friday, June 12. In the green phase all businesses and schools may reopen subject to state and CDC guidelines: Restaurants, bars, gyms, and theaters many open but only at 50 percent of their before-mandate capacity. When possible, telework is still recommended. According to the Pennsylvania’s new county stage monitoring dashboard, Adams County met each of four criteria necessary for moving to the green phase: There has been a stable, decreasing, or low confirmed case count in the past two weeks compared to the previous two weeks Contacts of cases are being monitored Less than ten percent of coronavirus tests have returned positive in the past 14 days The hospital bed use is 90% or lower than expected per district population. The green phase eases most restrictions by continuing the suspension of the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal,” it is equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum. Work and Congregate Settings Restrictions Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged. Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements. All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy. Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance. Congregate Care Restrictions in Place. Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities. Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance. Social Restrictions Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited. Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy. Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only. Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged. All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy. Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols.

Coronavirus Updates: What is Open at Gettysburg Military National Park?

Gettysburg National Military Park is following national and state guidelines as the state of Pennsylvania uses a phase approach to reopen businesses, organizations, and events, Here is the latest information we are aware of (Please leave a comment for questions, updates, or clarifications) Park grounds, roads, trails, and parking areas: OPEN Licensed Battlefield Guides: OPEN Museum and Visitor Center: OPEN Park Ranger interpretations: OPEN Public Restrooms: CLOSED Portable Toilets: OPEN Eisenhower National Historic Site buildings: CLOSED Wills House: CLOSED Observation towers: CLOSED A return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. The public should follow local area health orders for Pennsylvania State Phase Yellow, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities. The National Park Service offers virtual tours of the Gettysburg and Eisenhower sites on their website for people who are still home schooling or not traveling at this time. Gettysburg NMP Virtual Tour Eisenhower NHS Virtual Tour Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website at https://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

Mt. Joy Township Residents Invited to Comment on Proposed 1,000 Acre Solar Farm at Wednesday Meeting

The Board of Supervisors of Mount Joy Township will conduct a public hearing on Wednesday about a proposed solar energy installation which will cover about 1,000 acres across 26 land parcels in the township. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Alpha Fire Company #1, 40 East King St., Littlestown. An aerial plan of the proposed solar installation (from https://mtjoytwp.us/wp-content/uploads/Plan.pdf) Residents will be informed at the meeting about the proposed project and have an opportunity for public comment. The application is from Brookview Solar of Juno Beach, FL. The company is requesting to use the land in a way not now permitted within the Baltimore Pike Corridor Zoning District. About 530 of the 1,000 leased acres will be used for the project. The leased areas will have 12-foot tall solar panels and be surrounded with 8-foot tall security fences. There will be access and maintenance roads throughout the interior of the project for what are expected to be weekly maintenance visits. According to the developers the project is expected to create $10 million in property taxes while requiring little to no increase in public services. The proposed solar farm will be to the north and south of Baltimore Pike (Route 97) between Hoffman Homes Road and Gettysburg Road. The installation will border Plunkert Rd, California Rd., and Mud College Rd. According to the application, the site is more than three miles from the Gettysburg National Military Park. The area is about half way between Route 15 and Littlestown. The 207-page plan for the proposed project is available for inspection. The application and an attachment to the application are also available. More information can be found at https://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/brookview-solar.html A copy of the proposed application may be examined without charge or obtained at cost at the Municipal Building during regular business hours. In the event of inclement weather, the snow date for the public hearing is January 29, 2020 at the same time and place stated above. The Mt. Joy Township Board of Supervisors will determine whether or not to allow the use. It will have “quasi-judicial capacity” in the zoning decision. This means the board is given powers and procedures similar to those of a court of law or judge, and will objectively determine facts and draw conclusions to provide the basis for their decision. The public hearing on the zoning application will be an evidentiary proceeding which will include sworn evidence, subject to cross examination and objection. Before the presentation of evidence, the applicant may examine and raise standing challenges as to individuals seeking party status. Following the conclusion of the evidentiary public hearing, non-parties will be permitted to offer comment.