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LASD Faces Pandemic Choices, Honors Students

Superintendent Christopher Bigger said that the Littlestown Area School District is handling the COVID-19 pandemic well, but told school board members on Monday evening to prepare for anything.

“I do want to thank the administrative team for finding ways to stay open,” Bigger said. “It’s easy to throw in the towel. It’s easy to say, ‘This is hard. I’m done. I can’t do it.’ But they are working really hard to find ways to stay open, and it is like a juggling act. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and they are trying to do that every day, so I do appreciate their efforts on a daily basis to keep school open and running as normal as we can.”

Bigger commended the efforts of school staff to promote a positive environment for the children.

“If you do go in the buildings, aside from the masks, you wouldn’t know a pandemic existed much,” Bigger said. “Kids are learning, they’re socializing, going to recess, having lunch: they’re doing as many normal things as they can. So aside from the masks, you wouldn’t know as much that there is a pandemic, so I do thank the schools for creating as much normal as they can, as well.”

Bigger referenced a letter from the director of the Bucks County Department of Health, saying he’d sent it to the school board. Bigger said that according to the letter, student-to-student transmission of the virus is low if schools take proper measures against the virus. Many students who contracted the virus were in virtual school, Bigger said, citing the letter.

“Our current data in Adams County is not looking good,” Bigger said. “We did maintain the ‘sustained’ category for two weeks in a row; however, it hasn’t shown up on our doorstep substantially to equal community spread, and I think that’s what the Bucks County Department of Health letter stated. But I am a little concerned that we are seeing increases around us.”

Bigger said that a case of the virus was recently reported at the middle school, making it the fourth in the district.

“It’s really interesting when you’re out there hearing schools planning for bringing more students back because of failure, mental health, and parents and others are pushing to have more face-to-face, but at the same time you have schools saying you have to go virtual,” Bigger said. “So I want to be a realist and say, ‘Our plan is good. Continue moving forward.’ But I also can read some writing on the wall.”

Bigger pointed out that earlier in the spring, urban schools and schools in surrounding states switched to remote learning before Adams County schools closed, adding that he’s beginning to see the same pattern now. He said he anticipates keeping the schools open unless students spread the virus, if too many adults are ill to properly staff the schools, or if the district is closed by the health department or state.

Bigger said that most families have kept children home if they or others in the household have tested positive, are undergoing testing, or have been around someone with the virus.

Other Business

Dr. Eric Naylor, the district’s director of technology, said that the district recently had a Wi-Fi assessment performed on the properties. While there is internet access available, the district is “… currently not in a good place in all of our facilities to be able to livestream from every classroom,” he said.

Naylor said adjustments will need to be made.

“Our assessment is recommending that we have access points in every classroom and that the Apple TVs be hardwired to the network,” Naylor said. “And those are recommendations for us to act upon so that we can effectively livestream.”

Naylor said it will take time to make the modifications.

Board President Delores Nester recognized the late Mary Catherine “Kay” Crouse Sentz, whom Nester called “one of our icons.” Sentz was a retired teacher who passed away on Nov. 3.

“She was an absolutely outstanding teacher,” Nester said. “Well-known in the community. She lived what she believed.”

Nester credited Sentz with starting the girls’ field hockey, basketball and volleyball teams in Littlestown.

“Back in the 60s, she was instrumental in making sure that girls’ athletics were recognized in this school district,” Nester said. “She recently passed away but she did so much for the Littlestown School District.”

Nester said that Sentz was unforgettable.

“Once you met her, your life changed,” Nester said.

The board recognized the students of the month, watching short videos about each student:

  • Simon Dull, 1st grade, Alloway Creek Elementary School
  • Chloe Martin, 4th grade, Alloway Creek Elementary School
  • Ava Chiaruttini, 7th grade, Maple Avenue Middle School
  • Braden Unger, 12th grade, Littlestown High School
  • Lily Proskine, 12th grade, Littlestown High School

Student representatives Lindsay Flanary and Hannah Sheeley, both high school students, and Emily Nunemaker a middle school student, provided the board with updates on the schools.

Flanary said some students are struggling with the pandemic.

“The majority of students and parents and family members in the school district are beginning to be more comfortable with how the school week is,” Flanary said. “Me and Hannah have personally seen that there is some panic going on among students right now just with everything kind of up in the air about how things are going to work, but we are hoping for the best.”

The board voted to accept two donations the district received. An anonymous $500 donation was gifted to the wrestling team. A donation of classroom supplies intended for the Intensive Learning Support Classroom was gifted by Donors Choose and valued at $374.42.

The board went into executive session before returning to open session to announce personnel decisions.

The board’s next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. Meetings are typically held the third Monday of each month, but the December meeting will be held a week early due to the holidays.

The meetings are livestreamed on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/ltownsd.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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