Cen-Clear Child Services cancels Friday classes over ‘heightened sensitivity’

Preschool students at Cen-Clear Child Services will have their holiday break start a day early. Friday classes, planned to be the last day before winter vacation, were canceled.

In Osceola Mills, parents were informed of the schedule change due to a “heightened risk” when they dropped preschoolers off for their afternoon classes.

However, Gene Kephart, executive director of Cen-Clear, said the issue was actually “heightened sensitivity” and does not result from any direct threats to the program, students or any of the locations the preschool operates from, including programs in local schools like Osceola Mills Elementary. He said it was also not specifically a response to either the Newtown, Conn., shooting or concerns over the apocalyptic fears some people are associating with Dec. 21, but is also not unrelated.

“All of those pieces are reasons for this heightened sensitivity,” he said. “From our position, there are issues schools are dealing with, but it isn’t worth the aggravation to parents to be out of touch with their children.”

Cen-Clear is based in Philipsburg, and its preschool programs serve children across both Centre and Clearfield counties. Its other services, including behavioral health, reach into Cameron, McKean, Blair, Elk and Jefferson as well, but Kephart says none of those services will be impacted by this closing.

“The way it affects other services, other buildings would be closed on an individual basis (if there was a threat). We have not had any,” he said.

No other schools or daycare agencies have reported similar closings. In fact, State College Area School District will be using Friday to make up for being closed due to Hurricane Sandy.

But at least one school district feels the move is not necessary.

“Absolutely not. We have said that we are having school (Friday), and those children should come to school tomorrow,” said Sherri Connell, Penns Valley assistant superintendent, who said she discussed the move with Cen-Clear officials. “There have been no threats and Cen-Clear was unable to articulate concerns. Our kids need to be in school. If parents have concerns, we are happy to address them ... As a mom, I wholeheartedly understand, but one of the things that we’ve heard again and again and again is how important routine is for children.”