M A I NLI NE newspapers
School districts unsure of future after mandated closures
Vol. 99 No. 12
Nanty Glo, Pa.
By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
Last Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf mandated that all K12 Pennsylvania schools will close for 10 business days, beginning March 16, due to COVID-19 also known as the coronavirus. According to a March 13 press release, Wolf’s top priority as governor is to ensure the health and safety of the students and school communities. The press release stated that “no school district will be penalized if it fails to meet the 180 day or school hours requirements.” Penn Cambria superintendent Bill Marshall stated that there is a misinterpretation of Wolf’s press release in regard to the 180-day requirement. He explained that schools will be required to make up the days up to the June 30 deadline. If a school district does not meet the days and hours requirements after June 30, there will be no penalty. Blacklick Valley School District in Nanty Glo is facing the same conundrum. “This is unprecedented,” said Blacklick Valley superintendent Bill Kanich. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has released information to guide districts through this trying time. According to their March 14 press release, the districts will be responsible for deciding which staff members are necessary. The PDE stated that examples of necessary staff are
Thursday, March 19, 2020
school administration, food preparation and distribution, information technology and those who have to continue daily school operations. Marshall explained that the beginning of this week, three days were dedicated to the janitorial staff who “sanitized everything.” Kanich also stated that both school buildings are being santized and will be ready when the students return. “At this time, we will follow our standard snow day procedures on these days and all offices will remain open,” said Marshall in a press release March 13. “We currently expect to make these days up through additions to our school calendar pending other guidance from the state.” One major concern that school districts have is students’ access to the meals that the schools normally provide to them. According to PDE, the commonwealth has sought and received approval from the Federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed. Each individual school district that wants to take part in the meal distribution must apply to PDE; they have expedited these approvals. According to Marshall, the district did apply for the meals for their students and he hopes to have something in place by the end of the week. On March 18, Blacklick Valley will run a breakfast and lunch program from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.,
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Leo and Harry McConnell show off the St. Patrick’s Day hats they made during story hour at the Nanty Glo Library last week. Photo by Allie Byers.
COVID-19 virus slows down more than just people
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Newspapers
As the global economy turns, so do your local store shelves. In the interconnected world that exists today, the COVID-19 virus outbreak began in China in Dec. 2019 is now impacting the United States economy. A check of local stores on Friday, March 13, showed that food and personal items — other than the panic buying of toilet paper and hand sanitizer — were well stocked. By Monday, March 16, local stores were limiting hours and quantities in an attempt to allow customers better access to supplies and to prohibit panic buying
SEE CLOSURES, PAGE 6A
and the stockpiling of foods and paper products. Grocery stores were out of stock for many items as a result of panic buying. Toilet paper and bread were disappearing off shelves faster than they could be delivered. Wal-Mart stores, which are typically open 24 hours a day, are now limiting hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. to allow employees to sanitize the store daily and restock shelves. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recommended the closure of nonessential businesses and limited restaurants to take-out and delivery service only. The first to feel the effect of the industry shutdown in China is the pharmaceu-
tical industry. In a statement issued Feb. 27, Stephen M. Hahn M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs — Food and Drug Administration said: “As I have previously communicated, the FDA has been closely monitoring the supply chain with the expectation that the COVID-19 outbreak would likely impact the medical product supply chain, including potential disruptions to supply or shortages of critical medical products in the U.S.” The majority of today’s active ingredients in pharmaceuticals are manufactured in China. Additionally, nearly all overthe-counter medications and a large percentage of medical devices come from Chinese manufacturers. The impact may
not be felt in the area until weeks and months down the road. According to press releases from several pharmaceutical manufacturers, full production in China has resumed and current stockpiles on hand should mitigate any shortage in pharmaceutical manufacturing. The Chinese government shut down factories to contain the spread of the virus, and production went to a standstill. The effect of this is just beginning to be felt in this region. Those factories are slowly beginning to resume production. There is also a reported shortage of truck drivers to get the goods containers to the port cities in China to be sent here. Imports from China account for nearly 22 percent
JETSA’s system upgrade, Fords Corner project out to bid
By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
The Jackson/East Taylor Sewer Authority’s (JETSA) system upgrade and Fords Corner Road project is currently out to bid, according to engineer Bill Henry at the March 12 meeting. A pre-bid meeting will be held March 26 in the JETSA office so that the contractors can go to the project sites and see what it will entail. The bid opening is April 2. Henry stated that 22 contractors have picked up plans for contracts one and two. Contracts three through six involve the office building construction, and about 18 contractors have picked up plans for that portion of the project.
“Hopefully we’ll get some pretty competitive pricing and bidding,” Henry said.
JETSA solicitor Alex Svirsko has been working on easements for the project and Henry stated
that more will be needed for Rocky Road, which juts off of Pike Road. Originally, Henry
SEE SLOWS, PAGE 3A
thought it was a township road. However, he found out from the
SEE UPGRADE, PAGE 7A
The Vintondale Fire Department firefighters proudly show off their brand new truck at the open house held March 15. Photo by Allie Byers.