A Message From Our Superintendent

Dear RASD Parents/Guardians, Students and Community,

The Ridgway Area School District is appreciative of the patience and support from the students, staff, parents and community, as we navigated the re-opening of schools and the restructuring of fall athletics and extra-curriculars. Initially, our goal was to create school environments that were as safe as possible for in person instruction. Once we accomplished that, we shifted our focus to fall athletic and extra-curricular opportunities for our students. The collaboration between our staff, students, parents, the board, the administration, the community and our attorney, resulted in our District taking each small step forward with measured caution in order to provide the greatest assurances that our students, staff, and community would be safe. With safety in mind, the Ridgway Area School District has developed “Fall Sports Guest Attendance Guidelines”, that enable the families of our student athletes to attend their home events in a way that continues to keep our students, staff and community safe and not result in an accelerated spread of COVID 19.

Utilizing the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines and the Carnegie Mellon University Covid 19 Risk Assessment Tools, the Ridgway Area School District has developed guest attendance guidelines that are based on the level of community transmission of COVID 19 in the Ridgway community. 

When in LOW LEVEL of community transmission, the District will provide 4 guest tickets to District student athletes who are competing in outdoor events and 2 guest tickets to District student athletes who are competing in indoor events. It is highly recommended that athletes give their guest tickets to family members who reside within the same household as the athlete. There will be no general admission for community members. There will be no admission for visiting teams’ spectators. Per the CDC Guidelines, “smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g. community, town, city, or county)” present less risk “than gatherings in which attendees from outside the community” /familial unit are in attendance. ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/consideration-for-events-gatherings.html)

In the MODERATE LEVEL of community transmission, the RASD Board grants the superintendent authority to analyze the local data and make adjustments to guest attendance, in an effort to protect the health, safety, and welfare of student athletes, staff and community members. In the event the community goes into a SUBSTANTIAL LEVEL of community transmission, the District WILL NOT engage in PIAA athletic or extra-curricular activities or if one or more of the District’s schools are required to close due to a COVID 19 exposure in the school setting, the District will not engage in PIAA athletic or extra-curricular activities. “Community” is defined as the Ridgway Area School District.   

The District will continue to livestream events for our community and for opposing teams’ fans in an effort to provide a safer alternative to in-person attendance. At this time, it is reasonable to assume that the IU 9 School Districts (who formed the bubble to protect student athletes’ health, safety and welfare) may not be admitting visiting team’s guests in an effort to reduce community transmission of COVID 19. Furthermore, the Ridgway Area School District reserves the right to cancel events with other school districts who are not taking measured safety precautions by reducing and managing gathering capacity at their home events and who are not adhering to/enforcing the safety precautions that are recommended by PDE and the CDC.

In a typical year, when the COVID 19 pandemic is not threatening the health, safety, or welfare of our students, staff, and community, the bleacher seating capacity at Memorial Field is 1560 and the bleacher seating capacity at the high school gymnasium is 515. Given the community conditions related to COVID 19, guests in attendance at Memorial Field and other outdoor venues will not exceed 27% and at the high school gymnasium guest attendance will not to exceed 25%. The guest attendance guidelines ensure that the staff can manage the face covering requirements, social distancing requirements and wellness/contact tracing procedures for those in attendance. Per the CDC, PDE, DOH and CMU, it is these precautions and procedures that provide for the greatest mitigation of COVID 19 exposure for our student athletes, staff and community. 

The Ridgway Area School District is using guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Attending Sporting Events ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/attending-sports.html) and Carnegie Mellon University‘s (CMU) Risk Based Decision Support Tools  ( https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20200917-CMU-Risk-BasedDecision-Support-Tool.pdf) because these provide the District with sound technical and research based guidance to support the position of parental attendance at sporting events . RASD believes it is in the best interest of the student athletes to have parents in attendance at games and performances and believe this can be done safely because parents/household members are in close contact with their children on a daily basis. With these guidelines and the implementation of mitigation strategies, any increased risk to the community should be minimal.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has partnered with CMU to create a data-driven decision support tool that will be reliant on quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted evidence- based, regional approach to reopening in Pennsylvania. Although this tool is intended for the business sector the public health risks and mitigation measures could be reasonably applied to schools. By monitoring the risk indices of COVID Case Risk, Population Density Risk, and Population Age Risk, RASD believes we can develop guest attendance guidelines based on Covid case risk, since population density risk and population age risk will remain the same.

Throughout this process, the political and legislative bantering that has occurred at the state level in regards to COVID 19 mitigation efforts has been alarming. In fact, it has detracted from the hard work that Pennsylvania’s public schools are doing every day to make the best decisions possible in their local communities and for their students and staff. Legal changes and legislative bantering will not change the science regarding how COVID 19 spreads. The Ridgway Area School District’s board and administration, will continue to maintain a vigilant focus on the health, safety, and welfare of students, staff and the community with every decision we make. These types of decisions take time and careful consideration and we appreciate your patience.

The Ridgway School District’s priority is in person education of our children. As long as we can provide in person learning, our students will have the opportunity to participate in athletic and extra-curricular activities. Keeping our schools open has taken the total effort of our community. Please continue to wear face coverings, maintain a social distance of at least 6ft, stay home if you are not feeling well, and wash your hands. Our District truly appreciates all of your efforts!  Click here for more information on “Guest Attendance” at RASD home athletic events.

Here We Go Elkers!

Heather A. McMahon-Vargas, Superintendent