Bradford Area School District will be switching to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break for at least a week, Superintendent Katharine Pude announced Friday.

In a letter sent out to district families, the superintendent noted that McKean County is now in its second consecutive week of “substantial community spread” of COVID-19. The state departments of health and education recommend that counties with substantial spread covert to remote learning until the situation changes.

“Unfortunately, most of the community spread in McKean County is centered in the Bradford area and although all of our early cases originated outside of the district, we have begun to see spread within our schools,” Pude said in the letter.

“Although we have been able to mitigate the effects through quarantining and carefully adhering to our safety plan, we will be unable to sustain this level of intervention should it continue,” she continued. “To date, we have had to quarantine over 60 staff members and approximately 200 students across our district to ensure that the virus does not spread.”

After the holiday, “during which people will attend large gatherings or travel against current recommendations,” remote learning will be the safest way to resume instruction on Dec. 1, Pude said. “School will be online for the remainder of that week and we will return to in-person instruction on December 7th if it is safe to do so.”

During that week, the district will work with the health department, and will be in contact with families to determine what students and staff should be quarantined, and which ones may return to the school buildings on Dec. 7.

“Students identified with complex learning needs would start in-person instruction on December 3rd — this would also give us two days to ensure that we can appropriately provide equitable instruction and therapies needed as well as work out glitches with bus arrangements,” Pude stated.

Parents who have already indicated a need for computers for their children to take part in remote learning will be able to pick them up Nov. 23 and 24 at their child’s school, she stated.

“Online classes will be mandatory and attendance will be taken daily and absences recorded as though we were in-person. Our staff will work with families to support you with any difficulties that you may experience,” she said.

Pude added that no one in the school district wanted this.

“The faculty and staff have worked so hard to make it possible for all students to have in-person instruction as we know how important it is for our students to grow both socially and emotionally as well as academically,” she said.

Pude added, “We recognize the burden even a few days online places on our parents and our businesses, however, we are unable to stop the community spread without your help.”

Again, she reminded everyone to follow the health department protocols: wear a mask, social distance and avoid large gatherings.

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