A Message From Our Superintendent

March 8, 2021

Dear RASD Parents/Guardians, Students and Community,

It has been nearly 1 year since Governor Wolf closed PA public schools. Many schools across the Commonwealth have not re-opened for in person instruction since that initial closure on March 13, 2020. As a District and community we fought hard to mitigate COVID 19 and to keep our schools open.  

The District is appreciative of the patience and support from everyone, as we navigated the re-opening of schools in August of 2020, the restructuring of athletics and extra-curriculars and the mitigation of the worst spread of COVID 19 from the end of October through mid-January.

Initially, our goal was to create school environments that were as safe as possible for in person instruction, to keep students engaged with activities and to provide the best virtual education experience possible to reduce learning loss for our students. The collaboration between our staff, students, parents, the board, the administration, and the community, resulted in our District taking each small step forward together with measured caution in order to provide the greatest assurances that our students, staff, and community would be safe. Educators, parents and students did an amazing job! 

While the risks associated with COVID 19 are still present, they are much lower. We need to continue following public health guidance including the wearing of face coverings, social distancing, and hand washing/sanitizing. After this coming week more than 80% of RASD staff will have voluntarily received a vaccine against COVID 19. With these milestones and by following the public health guidelines we are looking to resume “more normal” school functions. 

One of the first experiences we will assume will be the personalized scheduling of all 8th grade students and parents for 9th grade courses. If you are the parent/guardian of an 8th grade student you will be receiving an email from me by tomorrow, explaining the process and the opportunities. For those who are thinking about moving to Ridgway or transferring, we have a unique experience for RHS students that begins with their 9th grade schedule. 

Upper classman can earn college credits through Dual Enrollment/College in the High School Courses (University of Pittsburgh) and by taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses. This year we are adding another Pitt course offering called  The Political Process.  Former graduates of RHS have earned enough college credits to be considered second semester college freshmen if they choose to go to a four-year university or college. This can be a tremendous savings. RHS recognizes that not all graduates desire to go to a 2 or 4 year college.  With this in mind, RHS has developed a pre-apprenticeship program (Machine Tool) and an approved Child Development program. All of these unique opportunities give RHS graduates a jump start on their post-secondary goals of employment, trade schools, or colleges. Your child’s road map through high school will be personalized in these one on one scheduling meetings.  We can’t wait to discuss these unique opportunities with you face to face!  Here We Go Elkers!


Heather A. McMahon-Vargas

RASD Superintendent 

Heather A. McMahon-Vargas, Superintendent