Students at Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center will move to full-time remote instruction on Monday as Westmoreland County has experienced several weeks with a “substantial” level of covid-19 transmission and cases have been on the rise.
Full remote instruction also is underway or imminent at the three school districts that send students to the Derry Township school — Derry Area, Greater Latrobe and Ligonier Valley.
According to Administrative Director Todd Weimer, Eastern Westmoreland’s move to remote online learning additionally was prompted by the recommendation of the state Departments of Health and Education. In a letter to parents, he said remote learning will remain in place at least through Jan. 15, when school officials will reevaluate the instructional model.
“While in this model, EWCTC’s physical building will be closed to all learners,” he said. School won’t be in session on Jan. 18, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed.
To avoid receiving a “tardy” mark, remote learners must check in with their EWCTC instructor by 8:30 a.m., if they are enrolled in the school’s morning session, and by 12:30 p.m., for the afternoon session. Daily deadlines also apply for submitting assigned coursework.
For programs that rely more heavily on hands-on experiences, such as machine tool technology, instructors may stream demonstrations from school labs, Weimer said.
Pennsylvania officials consider the covid-19 transmission level in a county to be substantial if 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents are recorded in a given week. For the week ending Nov. 26, Westmoreland County had 321.2 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 14.3%, according to the state’s Covid-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard.
There are 494 students enrolled at EWCTC, including 244 from Greater Latrobe, 140 from Derry Area and 110 from Ligonier Valley.
Greater Latrobe ended this week by switching to full remote instruction for grades K-12, a model it will continue to follow at least through Jan. 18. The district previously was offering students the option of either in-person instruction five days per week or full remote learning.
Derry Area officials also decided to move to full remote learning, beginning Monday and continuing through Jan. 15. Superintendent Eric Curry told parents that switch was prompted by a staffing shortage, caused by “legitimate, approved leave requests.”
“Unfortunately, we are now in a situation, created by covid-19 levels in the county, where we find ourselves unable to appropriately and safely staff our schools,” Curry wrote to parents. “As a result of our lack of staff physically able to report to work but able to teach remotely, and out of an abundance of caution, the entire district will temporarily move to remote learning.”
Curry said he expects in-person instruction at Derry Area will resume on Jan. 19.
Remote learning at Ligonier Valley has been in place since Nov. 23 and is slated to continue at least through Dec. 11.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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