Update from Norwin School District
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Taylor
October 7, 2020
Dear Norwin School District Families,
Today, I had intended to report to you about plans to fully transition Norwin School District to a traditional operational model (five-day in-person instruction). This morning, I shared the timeline and benchmark dates with our employees and I had every intention of sharing this information with you this afternoon.
However, the Pennsylvania Department of Health contacted us about five new cases of COVID-19 among Norwin School District students. These new cases – in addition to the two previous cases that were announced on October 1st – mean that we have a total of 7 cases across the District over the past 14 days, which exceeds the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s recommended number of cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
Therefore, it gives me great disappointment to announce that beginning tomorrow, October 8, 2020, Norwin School District will have to close the following five school buildings:
  • Norwin High School
  • Norwin Middle School
  • Hillcrest Intermediate School
  • Hahntown Elementary School
  • Sunset Valley Elementary School
At this time, it is my expectation that students will return to these five buildings on Tuesday, October 13th.
The Pa. Department of Health has completed all contact tracing and notifications regarding the cases in: Norwin High School, Hillcrest Intermediate School, Hahntown Elementary School, and Sunset Valley Elementary School. As the most recent case is from Norwin Middle School, the contact tracing and notification process is still underway.
Instruction will switch to remote format in those schools through the duration of the closure. Teachers from those schools will be conducting instruction via Google Classroom.
The five school buildings will be deep cleaned on Friday and over the weekend.
Students who participate in athletics or activities in the closed schools should expect to receive information directly from their coach or advisor as to how they will be impacted.
Rationale for Closure: State Recommendations
This decision to close five schools was based on the Pennsylvania Department of Education recommendations and relates to the moderate level of COVID-19 transmission in Westmoreland County. The number of COVID-19 cases in the Norwin School District within a 14-day period falls under the “multiple school buildings with individual cases who are not household contacts” category where we have seven (7) cases in five (5) schools over the past 14 days.
Norwin School District’s position within these guidelines are illustrated in the table below:
Norwin School District’s position within the Pennsylvania Department of Education recommendations
(Please click to enlarge)
Once again, the pandemic has dealt us a sudden blow that is upending all of our lives and forcing us to pivot. To say this has been a challenging past 7 months is an understatement - for all of us.
I had every intention of sharing with you that, after several weeks of planning and gathering stakeholder input, the District would plan to transition to a traditional operational model (five-day in-person instruction) on Wednesday, November 4, 2020. In the same message, I was also planning to emphasize that any return date would be contingent on the continued low number of COVID-19 cases in our schools.
Unfortunately, we believe it is best that we postpone sharing the details of our transition plan until we have a chance to re-evaluate it in light of today’s events. My goal is to share the details of our transition plan as early as of this Friday.
As always, student and staff safety will remain our highest priority.
We understand that families may have questions about this sudden turn of events. We will do everything in our power to continue to communicate with families and share more information about these developments. The most efficient way for me to communicate with our stakeholders is through eBlasts and social media posts; therefore, please look for the answers to your individual questions in these mass communications.
Dr. Jeff Taylor,
Norwin School District
281 McMahon Drive
North Huntingdon, PA 15642