Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel
Date: April 2, 1979
Title: Many Schools Close
Author: Deb Cline

While many schools within a 20-mile radius of Three Mile Island have closed, schools outside that area are preparing to receive residents in case a precautionary evacuation is called.

Schools and public institutions in the eastern part of the county, designated as the evacuation area, will be used as assembly points for evacuees. Such buildings in the western portion will be mass care centers.

County commissioners Sunday appealed to Governor Thornburgh to close all schools within proposed evacuation areas for the duration of the emergency.

Currently, he is only asking that schools within a five-mile radius of the plant be closed.

IN CUMBERLAND County, superintendents agreed Saturday it would be wise to close if an evacuation seemed imminent.

But Carlisle, Big Spring and South Middleton schools have remained open.

Most Harrisburg and West Shore area schools closed as did all Perry County school districts.

Mechanicsburg and Cumberland Valley schools, located within 20 miles of the plant, also were closed, more because of reduction of staff than anything else.

“We assessed the situation and found a large number of our teaching staff and support personnel have left the area because many of them are parents of small children,” Charles Shields, Mechanicsburg superintendent said.

“Also, an area of our district is Bowmansdale, which falls within a 10-mile radius of Three Mile Island,” he said. “We felt closing the schools was the intelligent thing to do since under the situation it would have been difficult to conduct classes.”

Samuel Sanzotto, Cumberland Valley superintendent, said in keeping with Governor Thornburgh’s requests that communities behave as normally as possible, he will attempt to reopen CV schools as soon as possible.

“I AM HAVING all my building principals take an inventory to see how many staff members have remained in the area,” Sanzotto said. “I would like to make plans to open our schools as soon as possible and we will be continually working along these lines.

In the meantime, other county schools remained open, with officials hoping an evacuation is not called during school hours.

Superintendents have told county commissioners it would take 1 ½ to four hours for schools to be prepared to receive evacuees from the east.

“If an evacuation is announced during the day that is a problem for us,” Harold North, Carlisle Schools superintendent, said. ” It appears some of the districts are assuming there will be evacuation imminent. I don’t know that.”

North and Carlisle School District has begun to prepare for evacuees, and the school will run the mass care centers in conjunction with local and county officials.

ALL CARLISLE school buildings, except possibly Penn Elementary, are expected to be used as mass care centers.

People in the district have already been placed in charge of various aspects of preparing for and operating mass care centers, such as security, physical facilities, custodial care, health services, food and even entertainment for evacuees.

North said the Red Cross and Carlisle Borough Civil Defense will help supply needed materials such as cots and blankets.