Ephrata Area School District stock photo

When: Ephrata Area school board meeting via Zoom, Nov. 16.

What happened: The board authorized Superintendent Brian Troop to shift all students to the online instructional mode, if necessary, as a preventive measure to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 cases within the district.

Quotable: “Know that we’ll only make this move if we feel like it is really in the best interest of health and safety, as well as educational needs of our district,” Troop said.

What the experts say: Public health experts are advising schools that a two-week move to fully virtual instruction gives schools a stronger chance at remaining in-person after the Thanksgiving holiday, Troop told the board. A break in modified and traditional learning might help with eliminating exposure and the virus spreading in schools. Other than family gatherings, additional concerns for spread at this time of year include college students returning home, flu season and more indoor sporting events, Troop said.

Cases: Troop said the district, as of Nov. 16, has nine active cases: five in the elementary schools and four at the high school. An active case, Troop said, is defined as someone who is tested positive and is still in isolation for the 10-day period. Troop said 24 staff members are quarantined. These are individuals who were exposed to someone outside of school who tested positive. This presents a challenge for staffing and classroom instruction, he said.

In other news: The board approved a five-year lease agreement with Meadow Spring Farm, of Lititz, to farm the district’s 65 tillable acres in support of the district agricultural science program beginning Jan. 1. The rate next year will be $375 per acre.

Also: The district will receive a grant for $30,250 to support early childhood programs for 2020-21. The funding is from the P-3 Partnership Pathways program administered through the United Way.

What’s next: The board will reorganize at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, via Zoom.