Newspaper: The Patriot
Date: April 4, 1979
Title: Most Schools Report ‘A Nearly Normal Day’
Author: Roger Seip

After being closed for two days because of the Three Mile Island accident, Wednesday was a near-normal day in most area schools, according to school officials.

Harrisburg School District teachers Wednesday reported a “fairly normal day.” About 65 percent of the district’s 10,000 students had returned to classes, according to district officials. Normally average attendance runs about 88 percent.

Approximately 90 percent of the district’s 700 teachers reported to work, they said.

The district was unable to find enough substitute teachers to take up the slack-a problem which has often plagued the district in normal times-and had to reshuffle classes and teachers in some instances, they said. No assignments went uncovered, they said.

Attendance at individual buildings ranged from 34 percent at Camp Curtin Early Childhood Center to 77 percent at the William Penn Campus of Harrisburg High School.

AT THE Middle School, where 64 percent of the students showed up, it was decided to continue with the Mr. Mathematics Pageant Competition which had originally been scheduled for Wednesday.

Finals will be held as scheduled Thursday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Middle School.

Benjamin F. Turner, superintendent, said he is going to recommend to the school board that the school year be extended a day, with the last day to be June 12. He said the district had schedule a 182-day school year, but that the two days lost to the Three Mile Island accident combined with a day lost because of snow, makes lengthening of the school year necessary.

However, he said that graduation for seniors will remain unchanged.

In the shadow of Three Mile Island, Middletown Area School District, remained closed.

For the Steelton-Highspire District it was “a good normal day” except that slightly fewer than half of the pupils were in attendance at Highspire Elementary school, according to Andy Padjen, high school principal. Part of Highspire is within the five-mile radius within which Gov. Dick Thornburgh has continued his recommendation that pregnant women and pre-school age remain away.

At the high school, Padjen said attendance was about 71 percent and no teachers were absent because of the Three Mile Island accident. Of those absent at the high school, Padjen said, “probably a good majority” were from Highspire.

LOWER DAUPHIN School District, which has two elementary schools within a five-mile radius of Three Mile Island, opened all schools except those two, which are in Conewago and Londonderry townships. All students living in the two townships are being excused from school, according to Dr. Henry Hoerner, superintendent.

At the West Shore School District’s Fishing Creek Elementary School, slightly more than five miles from Three Mile Island, Principal Ronald R. Shuey estimated that only 25 percent of the pupils were in class.

He said about half of the schools enrollment comes from within the five-mile radius, and all pupils from that area have been excused until further notice.

At neighboring Red Land High School, Principal Harry H. Finkelstein reported 648 of its 1,295 pupils were absent.

West Shore’s Newberry Elementary School remains closed because it is within the five-mile radius.

At East Pennsboro Area High School, principal Clarence G. Walters Jr. estimated a 10 percent absenteeism rate compared to a normal 5 percent.

At Good Hope Middle School in the Cumberland Valley School District, absenteeism was estimated at 20 percent by Dr. Anthony Colistra, principal.