Posted by on August 18, 2020 9:47 pm

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Categories: Coal Region Newswire Local News

pottsville area school board meeting august 18

Pottsville Area School District board members approved a “blended” reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

The blended model has students returning to in-person instruction at the district’s 3 schools part-time while completing other course work online.

Board members unanimously voted in favor of this plan over a full online or full physical reopening of the schools at the start of the school year. The board met Tuesday in-person at the DHH Lengel Middle School Auditorium, likely to avoid the “tell students to come back but meet virtually” criticism.

Pottsville Area Approves “Blended” School Reopening for 2020-2021 Term

So, what does a Blended reopening look like?

The Pottsville Area school board provided little in the way of detail at Tuesday’s meeting. But it did give some insight into how that might work at a previous virtual town hall earlier this month.

If Pottsville follows the model other Schuylkill County schools have used in a “blended” or “hybrid” reopening, students will be split into two “teams”. Other schools have labeled these “teams” by school colors.

Should Pottsville go that route, we suggest team names like “Crimson” and “Tide” rather than “Red” and “White” to avoid any potential lawsuits from being placed on the “White” team in today’s outraged world.

But here’s what Pottsville Area School District administration has spelled out as far as “blended” reopening.

Flexibility

The district believes a “blended” reopening gives them the most flexibility to deal with the changing dynamics of the pandemic response. And the plan does at least start to get students back in physical classrooms.

Here’s what they said at the town hall event:

“The blended learning option (which is one option for reopening) allows us to comply, to the fullest extent possible, with the recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), and the Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency (SCEMA). The recommendations include, but are not limited to, guidance pertaining to the following areas: social/physical distancing measures, adult/staff interaction, meals/cafeterias, face coverings and masks, school staff and visitors,communications/awareness, responding to confirmed or probable cases, busing and transportation, and individuals with disabilities or other chronic conditions.”

The one area where there doesn’t seem to be much flexibility is with parents’ schedules. With students going to school physically some days and others staying at home, there will be conflicts with parents who have work and might have to leave their students at home alone.

When the district decides which group or “team” each student will be assigned, there will be no switching to accommodate everyone’s potential conficts.

At the town hall, the district answer a question about that, saying:

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to change assignments unless there was an error and siblings and/or households were split. One of the purposes behind the blended model is to minimize the contact between student groups on any given day. Honoring requests would eliminate our ability to maintain that balance.”

Students can apparently opt for a full virtual learning option but they’re not locked into that decision. Should they want to attend school under the “blended” plan, they must notify the appropriate school principal two weeks prior to them coming back to school.

Reducing Student Volume

Pottsville Area believes it can reduce potential infection hot spots by reducing the amount of large gatherings, especially at co-curricular activities and student meal times.

Bus Transportation

To that end, splitting the students in two groups will reduce the number of students on buses on any given day. Pottsville provided more detail at that town hall:

“While utilizing district transportation, assigned seats will be mandatory on all school vehicles to limit contact between students and maintain record of seating. In addition, face coverings will be required while riding school district transportation.”

Further, the school says buses will be cleaned regularly:

“Buses will be cleaned between runs. The occupancy of the buses will be reduced by approximately half, if the blended model is chosen. Expectations for students wearing face coverings will be
clearly posted and students will be reminded as they board the bus.”

Potential Full Reopening

A full reopening of the schools this term is not off the table. Earlier this month, the school said:

“Our district will periodically assess COVID-19 and maintain communication with local, state, and federal agencies. If the guidance supports a safe return to full in-person instruction, our families will be notified of the change and when this will occur.”

Personal Protective Equipment

Students at Pottsville Area must provide their own face mask or face shield. At least one parent earlier this month asked if the school would provide any other PPE, like desk barriers. The school says a parent must check with the school administration to get approval for anything other than a mask or shield.

For more from this meeting, check out the full video and notes from The Canary: WATCH: Pottsville Area School Board Meeting – August 18, 2020

READ MORE SCHUYLKILL COUNTY NEWS: 

 

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One response to Pottsville Area School District Approves Blended Reopening for 2020-2021 Term

  1. Frank August 19th, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Quandel wanted to make sure you knew it was him with that mask.

    Reply

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