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Schuylkill County News

Pottsville Area School District Approves 4-Day In-Person Classes

pottsville area reopening plan components

pottsville area school district 4 day reopening plan

Members of the Pottsville Area School District voted Thursday night to approve a plan that gets students back in school 4 days a week.

School officials call this a “full in-person instruction” model.

On Thursday night, board members unanimously approved the plan drafted by Acting Superintendent Jared Gerace and the district’s Pandemic Planning Team.

Pottsville Area School District Approves 4-Day “Full In-Person Instruction” Week

Under this plan, all Pottsville Area students will be working virtually on Wednedays. They’ll physically go to school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

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Acting Superintendent Jared Gerace said taking Wednesdays off gives school staff a chance to maintain sanitary conditions at the school’s 3 buildings. However, under this plan with all students back in school 4 days a week, social distancing will likely not be possible, especially on school buses and in cafeterias.

“It’s not humanly possible,” Gerace told board members.

Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 term, Pottsville Area students have followed a “blended” reopening with students attending class in-person at school 2 or 3 days a week.

Pottsville Area School District 4-Day Instruction Plan Phases

pottsville area reopening plan components

The move to a 4-day in-person instruction week will not be an all-at-once reopening, as it were. Instead, students will move to this plan based on grade level. And the first students going back to a more full reopening won’t start until the week starting Oct. 12.

During the weeks of Oct. 12-16 and Oct. 19-23, students at John S. Clarke Elementary will start on the 4-day in-person plan. Students at DHH Lengel Middle School and Pottsville Area High School will continue on the blended reopening model during that time.

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Pottsville Area High School students won’t return to the 4-day reopening plan until the week of Oct. 26-30. Schools will still be physically closed on Wednesdays – but in session virtually – until further notice once this plan is implemented.

Students at Pottsville Area now have just 2 choices for their instruction. They can either follow the plan spelled out above or can choose a full remote plan, not attending in person any days of the week.

Transmission Rates Could Change Plan

pottsville area reopening plan requirements

Although Pottsville Area continues to ease toward a truly full in-person instruction model, there’s still a chance it could return to the blended model or fully remote. That’ll depend on the transmission rate of COVID-19.

Several factors could put the plan approved tonight in reverse:

  • Exceeding a 5% testing positivity rate in Schuylkill County
  • Exceeding a few cases of COVID-19 per school building
  • Exceeding a “low moderate” rate of transmission in Schuylkill County (Less than 30 cases/100,000 people locally)
  • Lack of PPE

A few weeks ago, it appeared Pottsville Area wouldn’t deviate from its current “blended” reopening plan until Schuylkill County was designated as a “low” transmission rate county by the Pennsylvania Health Dept.

However, in lieu of that designation, Pottsville Area considers the Schuylkill County “moderate” transmission rate as a “low moderate” and is changing course slightly.

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But if any those thresholds are exceeded, school officials could decide to return to a less open schedule, if you will. And once those thresholds were exceeded, they’d need to return to below those levels for a 2-week period before the so-called full reopening were implemented again.

Public Supports Full Reopening

Pottsville Area officials say they surveyed parents on their feelings about a full reopening of the schools. The district received 886 responses and 82.8% responding said they’d support a full reopening if it were offered.


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