Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chester County Health Department

What is the Reopening Plan for T/E Schools — Kids Need to Come First!

There’s an important school board meeting tonight at 7:30 PM – on the agenda, a discussion on updated Chester County Health Department guidance for the reopening of schools. Priority discussion topics include the District’s “School Instructional Model Plan” – How (and when) will the District fully open schools? (For agenda and instructions on submitting questions and viewing the meeting, click here.)

Many parents are pushing for a return to full in-person learning and data certainly supports the need. There is no argument on the many benefits of resuming full in-person learning — educational, developmental, emotional, and mental health needs, especially for the younger students. It is my understanding that most who support full in-person learning support the virtual model continuing for those not wishing to return to school.  If the District were to move to a full in-person model, presumably the current hybrid option would no longer exist.

According to a national survey by state in Education Week, updated Feb. 19, Gov. Tom Wolf has lifted a ban on all in-person school extracurricular activities and K-12 school sports. The guidance from the state level allows individual school districts to decide whether they will use in-person or remote instruction, or a mix of both.

Although the debate on whether to fully reopen schools should be science based, the issue has sadly taken on a decidedly political spin … pitting parents against parents, parents against teachers, etc.  Everyone wants what is best for the kids, but the kids only have their parents to ensure their needs are met.

Without question, kids (and teachers) deserve safety and parents deserve to have schools that are open, and safe. Neighboring school districts have successfully increased in-person learning, can that safely happen now in T/E?

There are many questions about fully reopening District schools, here’s a few of mine:

  • Will all teachers be vaccinated before the schools open for full in-person learning? If so, that process is completely depended on availability of vaccines.
  • Will the community transmission rates impact reopening of schools? Studies have suggested that schools do not drive community transmission.
  • Is 3-foot socially distanced model acceptable to reopen schools or must 6 feet of physical distance between students, staff, and faculty in school buildings be maintained?
  • Do the District schools have adequate ventilation?
  • Who exactly makes the decision to fully reopen the schools – the administration or the school board?
  • Where does the District teachers union TEEA stand on the fully reopening of schools?

Chester County Health Department Reporting Mosquito Traps Tested Positive for West Nile Virus

Last night was a wonderful night for dining outside . . . and enjoying a summer night with a glass of wine. There were a couple of mosquito bites; but who cares, isn’t that a part of summer?

Then I read in the Daily Local this morning that the Chester County Health Department has found mosquito traps that tested positive for the West Nile Virus in Phoenixville, Schuylkill Township and . . . Tredyffrin!

The health department has been checking their traps since May and until this week, had received negative results. They are quick to point out that Chester County is one of the last counties in the Commonwealth to test positive this season. Schuylkill and Phoenixville have scheduled their mosquito spraying for August 24 between 8:30-10:30 PM but Tredyffrin has not yet been assigned a date and time. West Nile Virus is not new to Tredyffrin and the township was sprayed last year – I’ll update if I hear anything about our spraying schedule.

The health department also released some suggestions for residents – avoid being outside at dawn or dusk when the bugs are most active. (I suppose that warning includes dining al fresco on the patio.) But if you are going to be outside during those times, you are to wear long sleeves and long pants or wear bug repellent. As I scratch my mosquito bite, I can take comfort knowing the chances of a mosquito bite infecting someone are small and the chance of becoming seriously ill is very low. The health department warns if you experience flu-like symptoms after a mosquito bite, immediately contact a doctor or visit the local emergency room.

To lessen mosquito attraction to your property, make sure that you do not have anything outside that may collect stagnant water – buckets, wheelbarrows, wading pools. Look for standing water and empty those containers. West Nile virus concerns will remain until the first frost – now there’s another reason to look forward to the brisk autumn temperatures.

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