Virus shutdown is main topic at G-A School Board meeting

By Shawn Hardy

There is no guidebook and there are many unanswered questions concerning the closure of schools in response to the coronavirus, Dr. Kendra Trail, superintendent, told Greencastle-Antrim School Board members at a brief meeting Thursday evening.

The biggest questions are how long is the shutdown going to last and will it be more than 10 days, Trail said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's order to close schools as a measure to stop the spread of the COVID-19 currently runs through this Friday.

Trail noted that all state testing has been cancelled for this spring.

With group gatherings capped at 10 people, the board also is keeping its options open for its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 2.

Tracy Baer, board president, said the board should keep the meeting on the schedule in case anything important comes across from the state that requires action.

Board member Scott Hart noted by law the board only has to meet once every two months.

The meeting lasted just 13 minutes and was the first to be videoed for posting on the district website. The video can be found under "Meetings and Agendas" of the school board section on the district website:

Eight of the nine members were at the school board meeting, with Mark Chimel attending by phone. The slim group also included the chief educational officer, chief financial officer, director of technology, board secretary and two reporters. No one from the public attended, nor did the usual group of teachers and building administrators.

After the meeting, some board members commented on the closure.

The students "are losing critical instruction time," especially if schools are closed for an extended period of time, said Shannon Blanchard.

Hart is concerned about the impact on seniors if they only get two-thirds of a year of education.

Dr. Robert Crider, chief educational officer, noted many of the seniors have already have all the credits they need to graduate.

He added "administratively we continue to meet and plan" as the situation unfolds.