Districts consider mix of in-person and remote learning
Ed Mahon/PA Post
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about reopening schools.
David Christopher, a superintendent in Cumberland County, said that’s not really the right phrase for how he’s approaching the new school year.
“Reopening schools is really easy. We just bring everybody back to school,” Christopher, the head of the Cumberland Valley School District, said on WITF’s Smart Talk. “This is a staying open plan, which is a lot harder.”
What he means: If schools don’t have the right mitigation efforts in place, coronavirus cases will start to climb again. Christopher said it would not take many cases to shut down an entire school building for 14 days. Five cases would be enough, he said.
“And that kind of opening and closure, and opening and closure, I think would actually be more disruptive for students and teachers than potentially being online all the time,” Christopher said.
Christopher plans to bring K-5 students back for in-person classes every day — that means modifying schedules, so students can ride on buses that are at no more than 50 percent capacity. For middle and high schools, the district is looking at a hybrid model where students would attend in-person two days a week.
Here’s a look at how other districts in the state are planning for the fall:
- Philadelphia: “The plan calls for students to attend classes in their respective school buildings twice a week, while completing the rest of their work online,” writes WHYY’s Avi Wolfman-Arent. “Some high-needs students will have the option to attend school four days a week, as will pre-K students.”
- Highlights from Philly’s plan: No more than 25 people should be in a classroom, including students, teachers and staff members, when feasible. Teachers will be expected to provide in-person instruction four days a week , Avi reports. The district won’t check temperatures for students when they enter. You can read the plan here.
- Pennsylvania’s second largest city: “Pittsburgh Public Schools students will not return to the classroom full-time in the upcoming school year, if they go back at all,” writes Andrew Goldstein for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Across the state: Each of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts needs to approve its own reopening plan. Speaking on WITF’s Smart Talk, the chief advocacy officer for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, John Callahan, stressed how complicated the issue is for districts and recommended that districts take a regional approach.
- What the state’s largest teachers union says: Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the U.S. Congress should provide $175 billion to help school districts. “We need to really focus on making sure, if they’re going to open, they’re going to open safely,” Askey said. “And everyone has to feel like every resource is there, every plan is there.” The National Education Association says the federal money is needed to fill budget gaps, and that school workers need the proper personal personal protective equipment.
- Clear eyes, full season? PIAA officials say they are moving forward with the normal start of fall sports unless the state tells them not to. Some teams have already had to deal with players testing positive. WNEP recently reported that some members of the Valley View team in Lackawanna County quarantined themselves after one player tested positive. In Cumberland County, a high school suspended field hockey and boy soccer practices after one player from each team revealed positive test results, The Sentinel reports.
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