We are parents of children at Indian Valley Middle School in the Souderton School District. Indian Valley has a COVID outbreak and the district is trying to keep it quiet.
Are we exaggerating? No. The Montgomery County Public Health Department defines an “epidemic” as 25 to 45 cases in a school with 500 to 900 staff and students over a 14-day period. As of November 12, Indian Valley now had 27 positive cases in less than 14 days (dashboard). Children between the ages of 5 and 11 started getting vaccinated last week, which is of great concern to so many parents in our community.
Why does Indian Valley have an epidemic? There seem to be three main causes. 1. Halloween parties, possibly indoors, with unvaccinated children, 2. Inappropriate and widespread wearing of masks, and 3. Mask exemptions granted by the school district.
Let’s break it down starting with 1. The school district obviously cannot control what children do when they are not in school. We want all parents in this community to be responsible adults, but the outrage over masks, vaccines and conspiracy theories at the August school board meeting proves to us that many parents will never make the mistake. responsible thing.
2. Countless students and parents have told us that students and teachers regularly wear masks under the nose or under the chin. Ask someone who has been to Indian Valley recently and they will tell you that approximately 50% of students are not masked or are wearing their masks incorrectly. There is a culture of contempt for the mask’s mandate that begins at the top. The school board voted against universal masking at the end of August, before the term of the PA’s health ministry. Many principals, teachers and staff do not wear masks correctly and do not ask their students to wear them correctly.
3. Following the PA Ministry of Health’s mask mandate, the Souderton area district reluctantly complied. Or so they say. According to the state, mask exemptions are supposed to be granted using the district’s existing process for granting reasonable accommodations. In Souderton, reasonable accommodation requires medical approval. But Souderton does not follow this process. Souderton mask exemption only requires parent approval (form). After submitting the exemption form, students can immediately attend school without a mask. In the meantime, the district is following up on the form and suing parents for providing medical documents. Six hundred students have submitted mask exemption forms and the district is still following them. It’s mid-November. Shouldn’t these exemptions be granted or denied now? No, they’re in limbo. Meanwhile, unmasked children test positive and are spreading COVID inside the school.
Parents have received emails from the principal talking about “several” students who have tested positiveâ¦ why can’t he provide an exact number? There is no mention of additional health and safety measures. There is no mention of the importance of proper masking. It simply intends to enforce existing health and safety measures. We’re beyond that now, aren’t we?
Let’s discuss all the mitigation measures other districts have put in place since September, which Souderton has not done. 1. Correct implementation of the mask mandate with physician approval for exemptions. 2. Tests such as the âtest to stayâ program. 3. Daily updates to their online COVID tracking dashboards, including the number of students in quarantine. Souderton’s dashboard is only updated once or maybe twice a week because it is “a very sophisticated spreadsheet” and the district claims it cannot share quarantine numbers . 4. Provide home quarantined students the ability to zoom in their classrooms. In Souderton, the quarantined students are at home with no live instruction. They must learn on their own and complete the assignments posted online. It is a serious equity issue.
The Souderton area school district did a good job last year keeping the school open during the pandemic and providing parents with a virtual option. This year Souderton threw in the towel. The administration and the school board need to recognize that they have let our students down, despite the fact that the CARES Act provided more than enough funding to keep schools safe and open. We are concerned that Souderton has chosen to spend this money on lowering the tax base and that they have not allocated enough for the intended purpose.
Erin Tynebor, Harleysville
Alex and Rob Wisser, Upper Salford
Corinne and Paul DeGeiso, Upper Salford