A teacher at H.D. Berkey Elementary School alerted Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 with an anonymous letter, about concerns that COVID-19 safety protocols are slipping in the New Kensington Arnold School District.Among the concerns: the classroom limit of 15 students is exceeded in some classrooms without proper social distancing with students.Instead of being seated 6 feet apart, the letter says students are spaced 3 to 5 feet apart.It also states that what started out as frequent disinfecting by the custodial staff at the beginning of the year, has now digressed in frequency.And then, it quotes Acting Superintendent Jon Banko as saying “health takes a close second” to education.Banko took the time to address the concerns stated in the letter, first by saying he did not mean to downplay the health of students and faculty, “I’m an educator and that should be my No. 1 priority, and I said that safety is a close second, and to suggest that it was less important, I think is an assumption that is kind of unfair.”When asked if he understands how someone could interpret his statement negatively, Banko responded, “for sure, I definitely can.”He admitted, that a better framing of his thoughts should have been employed, “I guess the rewording would be that we never made safety not be a priority.”Banko says overall, the school district is safe, even though two teachers tested positive for COVID-19 during the past two weeks, in an elementary school and the high school, “as far as disinfecting, we shuffled our staff so that we can do more cleaning during the day. I’m impressed at all levels. I go into the classrooms and all kids are wearing masks.”The New Kensington Arnold Education Association, the union representing teachers, issued a statement: “We believe the NKASD should follow the PA departments of Health and Education recommendations to protect and keep our students, teachers, and staff safe. “As educators, we want to be at school with our students providing them with the best possible education. Our concern remains steadfast that the health and safety of everyone in our school community needs to be protected.”

A teacher at H.D. Berkey Elementary School alerted Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 with an anonymous letter, about concerns that COVID-19 safety protocols are slipping in the New Kensington Arnold School District.

Among the concerns: the classroom limit of 15 students is exceeded in some classrooms without proper social distancing with students.

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Instead of being seated 6 feet apart, the letter says students are spaced 3 to 5 feet apart.

It also states that what started out as frequent disinfecting by the custodial staff at the beginning of the year, has now digressed in frequency.

And then, it quotes Acting Superintendent Jon Banko as saying “health takes a close second” to education.

Banko took the time to address the concerns stated in the letter, first by saying he did not mean to downplay the health of students and faculty, “I’m an educator and that should be my No. 1 priority, and I said that safety is a close second, and to suggest that it was less important, I think is an assumption that is kind of unfair.”

When asked if he understands how someone could interpret his statement negatively, Banko responded, “for sure, I definitely can.”

He admitted, that a better framing of his thoughts should have been employed, “I guess the rewording would be that we never made safety not be a priority.”

Banko says overall, the school district is safe, even though two teachers tested positive for COVID-19 during the past two weeks, in an elementary school and the high school, “as far as disinfecting, we shuffled our staff so that we can do more cleaning during the day. I’m impressed at all levels. I go into the classrooms and all kids are wearing masks.”

The New Kensington Arnold Education Association, the union representing teachers, issued a statement: “We believe the NKASD should follow the PA departments of Health and Education recommendations to protect and keep our students, teachers, and staff safe.

“As educators, we want to be at school with our students providing them with the best possible education. Our concern remains steadfast that the health and safety of everyone in our school community needs to be protected.”

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