State College Area School District

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

Starting this fall, students and staff in the State College Area School District who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 will not have to wear masks inside, while those who have not been vaccinated will, under a plan approved by the school board Monday night.


The 7-2 vote followed a lengthy discussion by the board and a contentious public comment period, with some parents booing during the meeting. Other parents spoke in support of the board, with some asking the district to go further and require everyone to wear a mask.


Centre County introduced new ES&S voting machines in the primary on May 21, 2019.
Min Xian / WPSU

As of 12:50 a.m. Wednesday, with all precincts partially reporting, unofficial results of the primary elections show Ezra Nanes leading Jim Leous by a two-to-one margin in the Democratic nomination for State College mayor. There is no Republican on the ballot for the seat. Any write-in candidates will take some time to be counted. 

While many school districts in Pennsylvania are moving to remote learning as COVID-19 cases rise, some central Pennsylvania districts are keeping classes in person, at least for now.

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School District is switching to entirely remote learning after Thanksgiving through Dec. 14, as it faces staff absences due to COVID-19 and the expectation of an increase in cases after Thanksgiving.

The school district made the announcement Thursday, saying it has reached a "tipping point."

“For weeks, we have been struggling with staffing due to absences related to COVID-19 in addition to usual illnesses,” the message from Superintendent Bob O’Donnell reads.

Brick exterior shot of The Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School
The Hollidaysburg Area School District


A growing number of school districts in central and northcentral Pennsylvania are switching schools to remote learning, even if temporarily, as COVID-19 case numbers in that part of the state increase sharply.

In this file photo from summer 2020, a sign in front of the Mount Nittany Medical Center asks visitors to see a staff member if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Min Xian / WPSU

The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at Mount Nittany Medical Center grew to 13 Friday, an increase in patients that comes from both long-term care facilities and the community, according to a hospital announcement.

That’s about double the recent average of six to eight patients over the past two weeks.

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

Three students in the State College Area School District — one high school student and two elementary students — have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email from the district superintendent to families Monday evening.

The email said the high school student has not been in any district building this school year. The other two are Mount Nittany Elementary students. The email said “contact tracing showed there were no close contacts by these students connected to district schools.”

Outside of the newly renovated Spring Creek Elementary School.
Brittany Krugel / WPSU

Calling it an “extremely disappointing turn of events,” the State College Area School District announced Friday it will move all of its schools to remote learning next week, an announcement that came the same day Penn State’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 174 more cases in the past week. 

In a letter to parents and guardians, Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said recent positives mean the district reached the state Department of Health’s “substantial level” of COVID-19 transmission and the recommendation at that point is “full remote learning.”

File photo of a mobile COVID-19 test site on Penn State University Park campus.
Min Xian / WPSU

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase sharply in Centre County, particularly at Penn State and in the neighboring State College area.

There are 578 confirmed and probable cases in Centre County, up from 538 Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health. Thursday’s 40-case increase is second only to the 47-case spike Wednesday, the largest seen in the county since the pandemic began. 

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area school board voted 5 to 4 Wednesday night to close schools and take a day off this Friday, giving the district time to review new COVID-19 data.


The meeting came the same day Centre County saw its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, leading to concerns about whether the growing number of cases in Penn State students will spread to the community at large.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

Centre County COVID-19 cases increased by 47 Wednesday, its largest single-day spike since the pandemic began, according to state Department of Health data.

The county has 538 cases — 491 confirmed and 47 probable — up from a total of 491 Tuesday. The jump comes as the State College Area School District has been grappling with if and when to move to remote learning — even temporarily.

The county’s numbers by zip code include:

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School board voted 7 to 2 Monday night against a motion to switch entirely to online learning after two weeks in anticipation of an upswing in COVID-19 cases after the return of Penn State students and in-person classes.


The vote followed more than five hours of discussion and public comments during an online meeting attended by more than 700 people.

Signage for a COVID-19 collection site in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

The State College Area School District is scheduled to return to school next week, and that’s also when Penn State classes start, raising concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.

As questions are raised about how much cases will go up and how quickly test results are coming back, the State College Area school board will vote Monday night on whether to change its plans for in-school classes, moving entirely to remote learning after two weeks of in-person classes, at least while data about the rate of COVID-19 in the community is collected.

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

School districts across Pennsylvania are finalizing plans for reopening classrooms and teaching students remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with State College Area School District Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and school board President Amber Concepcion about how that district is preparing for the fall.


Bryan Peasley and his mom, Debbie at a Penn State football game.
Debbie Peasley


  The State College Area School District will be offering three different forms of learning to its students for the coming fall semester. Families have until Tuesday to decide what form of education works for them amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

State High building
Min Xian / WPSU

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, families in the State College Area School District will decide whether to send their children to school in person or have them learn online at home.

Like other school districts in Pennsylvania, State College is planning how it will teach students when the new school year begins in the fall. The board reviewed those plans during a meeting Monday night.

State College Area students driving in a red car, participated in the Senior Parade on May 27, 2020.
Min Xian / WPSU


In March, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered Pennsylvania’s K through 12 schools closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. That meant high school students had to adjust to a new “normal” of learning remotely. 

For Ronit Patel, a senior at State College Area High School who is also a musician, that has meant turning to music.

“To let out all my frustrations about quarantine and stuff, I just sing. I belt my heart out and sing," Patel said. "And, I feel like it’s really helped me stay kind of positive in this horrible, horrible time.” 

Sixth grader Lauren Dawson doing schoolwork at home on a computer.
Mike Dawson

You’ve probably heard stories about what it means to be an adult working from home or out of work. But, what’s it like being a young person out of school? K through 12 students have been at home since March, and WPSU talked with some of those students from central Pennsylvania about what they think of not going to back for the rest of school year and what they’re looking forward to.

Here's some of what they had to say:

My name is Lauren Dawson. I’m in sixth grade, and I go to Mount Nittany Middle School. (Centre County)

What goes into the meal kits the State College Area School District is preparing for families even when school is out.
Megan Schaper / SCASD

As part of Pennsylvania’s efforts to slow down COVID-19, the state’s K-12 schools are closed for the rest of the year. Some school districts, including the State College Area, have stepped in to help families make sure children are still getting enough to eat. WPSU’s Anne Danahy spoke with the district’s food service director, Megan Schaper, about the need, and how she and her staff are meeting it by packing hundreds of meals.  

More information on the State College Area School District program is available on the district's website.

Brian Toth is superintendent of the Saint Marys Area School District, at desk.
Anne Danahy / WPSU


UPDATE: Gov. Tom Wolf announced today (April 9) that all K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Since Gov. Tom Wolf ordered Pennsylvania’s K through 12 schools to remain closed indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19, school districts, teachers and parents have been trying to make the most of what’s left of the school year.

Lilian Feinberg, 10th grade, and Ellie Hirsch, 9th grade.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

The State College Area School District is getting ready to move the Delta Program from its current, aging building to a new one on the high school grounds about a mile away. While many are ready for the change, the move from the downtown Fairmount Building means leaving a building and its history behind.

“This is a pretty important historic perspective for our visitors over here,” said Jon Downs, the school district's director of  educational alternatives.

As a Delta Program graduate, I say yes to the offer from Downs, head of the school, for a tour.

I believe in talking about important political issues in school.

School shapes children’s lives in a major way. School teaches children about the world around them, about how things work. So what better place to teach kids about politics than school?

Five people participating in panel discussion
Min Xian / WPSU

As part of the WPSU series on School Safety efforts in central Pennsylvania, we invited a group of parents, students and educators to discuss school safety, what it means and what we should be doing to get there.

Lori Bedell moderated the discussion. Bedell teaches rhetoric at Penn State and is part of Deliberation Nation, which guides students through discussions, and she serves on the State College Area school board.

Police Chief Gardner at a podium
Anne Danahy / WPSU


State College police fatally shot a man in an apartment on Old Boalsburg Road Wednesday while attempting to serve a mental health warrant. The case has been turned over to Pennsylvania state police.

“I stand before you with a heavy heart to provide you with a statement regarding a 29-year-old African-American male who died in a police-involved shooting today," State College Police Chief John Gardner said during a press conference Wednesday.

State High building
Min Xian / WPSU

A State College Area High School student brought a bullet to school on Wednesday and showed it to classmates. Although the high school’s resource officer found that no firearm was involved, a rumor of a gun in the school prompted a parent of another student to call 911, resulting in a 10-minute lockdown at the high school, according to the State College Area School District.

Rendering of renovated Memorial Field
Image provided / SCASD

The State College Area School District is getting ready for major renovations at Memorial Field, the outdoor athletic venue located at Nittany Avenue and Fraser Street. WPSU’s Anne Danahy talked with Superintendent Bob O’Donnell and Board President Amber Concepcion about the project and two options being considered for timing the renovation work.

The district will present information on the project to the community at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 in the State High auditorium.

Shutdown protest signs in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harnik / AP

With a federal government shutdown that's the longest one in U.S history, some Pennsylvania businesses and agencies are stepping in. At Somerset Trust Company, that means offering furloughed federal workers no-interest loans.

“The workers are simply caught in the middle. It’s not their fault. They didn’t do it. And a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck," said bank President Jeff Cook. He said the loans are his bank’s way of trying to help people in that community.

Students outside of State College Area High School on Jan. 8, 2018.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania schools are getting ready for a new system for reporting concerns about safety or troubling behavior that's slated to go live across the state Jan. 14.

The state Attorney General’s office is implementing the anonymous reporting system — Safe2Say Something — with the organization Sandy Hook Promise. That nonprofit is led by families of students who were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Wideline Seraphin and Ana Díaz.
Jim Carlson / Penn State College of Education



Since 2014, Wideline Seraphin and Ana Díaz have been collecting narratives from members of marginalized communities about their experiences living in State College and Centre County. A few of these stories will be featured in the mini-documentary “Schooling Narratives,” which focuses on the experiences of three families in the State College Area School District.

Seraphin said the student narratives have been used at the State College Area High School to rethink inclusion in a classroom space.

Rendering of renovated Memorial Field
Image provided / SCASD

The State College Area School District is looking at revamping Memorial Field’s support facilities at an estimated cost of about $13 million.

Located next to downtown State College, Memorial Field is historic. But, it’s also short on many of the features most high school athletic stadiums have.

Ed Poprik, the school district’s director of physical plant, notes the field doesn’t have locker rooms, is lacking when it comes to public restrooms and doesn’t have a permanent area to buy food.