The Elk Lake School District plans for a total reopening this fall, with precautions taken to allow students of all grade levels to receive in-person instruction each day.
Superintendent Ken Cuomo presented the district’s preliminary Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan, as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to the Elk Lake School Board on July 15.
“This plan is not indicative of any of our opinions. That is not our purpose,” Cuomo said. “Our purpose is to formulate a plan so that we may have face-to-face instruction with our students in the most safe and healthy environment to the greatest extent feasible.”
Cuomo said it’s important for the public to understand that each school district will have a different plan based on their specific needs, community, facilities and more.
“You cannot compare one school to another,” he said. “Understand that no matter what we put out, we’re not going to please everyone, nor is this intended to please everyone.”
The district has invested in foggers, sanitizing equipment, drums of sanitizing solution, wipes, face masks, thermometers and protective barriers. During the meeting, the board hired an additional maintenance supervisor to help with the extra cleaning and sanitation workload.
All faculty and staff, as well as bus contractors, will be educated on protocols.
“We are putting a lot of resources into the cleaning and sanitizing of this facility and modifying the facility where needed,” he said.
Cuomo assured that students won’t need to wear face masks all day. However, there will be times when it’s necessary, like when riding the bus or waiting in line for lunch.
Parents have threatened to enroll their children in a cyber charter school if masks are a requirement, he added.
“Face-to-face instruction in brick and mortar schools is by far, based on data from the Department of Ed, a significantly better educational experience for students than any cyber charter school,” he said.
Cuomo also reminded that Elk Lake has its own cyber program, the Elk Lake Warrior Academy, which he said aside from being a superior educational option, helps the taxpayers.
The goal for Elk Lake is to keep classroom sizes at 25 students or fewer, with nonessential items taken out to maximize space. Elementary students will stay in their core class as much as possible.
The district is looking at increasing ventilation in the elementary cafeteria and having one grade level eat at a time. It isn’t possible to split up high school students this way, but they could likely utilize additional spaces to eat, Cuomo said.
Students will be spread out on buses, and he encouraged anyone able to drive their child to do so in order to open space in school vehicles. He expects staggered arrival and dismissal times, too.
Outside visitors can only come by appointment. They must wear a face covering and have their temperature checked before entering.
A room will be set aside to quarantine sick students until a parent could pick them up. Parents are asked to keep their children home if they have a fever or show other symptoms.
The board looks to adopt the finalized plan during its meeting on Aug. 5 at 7 p.m., and the public is encouraged to reach out to the administration with questions or concerns.
Board members also adopted a resolution which allows the district to meet its 180-day instruction requirement in an alternative way if necessary during the pandemic.
On the extracurricular side, the board passed Elk Lake’s preliminary COVID-19 athletic plan. Cuomo said some activities have already started back up in a limited fashion.
The board also approved the following activity positions: Leanna Bell, assistant girls cross country, $1,677.12; Craig Sprout, boys varsity soccer, $3,937.19; Jason Casselbury, boys junior varsity soccer, $1,839.43; Mary Berg, assistant boys volleyball and assistant girls volleyball, $2,943.07 each; and Whitney Search, girls varsity volleyball, $3,516.55.
“If the season is shortened, then coaching salaries will be adjusted on a prorated basis,” Cuomo said. “If a season is canceled, that position will be furloughed and no salary will be paid. Same thing with our non-athletic activities.”
In other business, the board hired Peter Kolonkoski to serve as assistant high school principal at a salary of $76,000; Reed Corby as an IT infrastructure specialist at $50,000 per year; and Ken Bach Jr. as an assistant maintenance supervisor at $35,000 per year.
The board changed Chris Tripp’s title to building and infrastructure operations manager.
The board also approved the following:
- Family Medical Leave request from Chelsea Maxey for Oct. 19-Dec. 11.
- Local Education Agency Teacher Equity Plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Therapy staffing agreement with CareGivers America.
- PA Treatment & Healing agreement for the 2020-21 school year.
- Agreements with CTC sending districts for participation in child nutrition programs at Elk Lake.
- Consolidated federal grant agreement with PDE.
- 2020-21 Leadership Teams.
- Permission to post for a bus radio monitor and substitute caller.
12-month unused vacation time accumulation rollover for staff who were unable to take time off last school year with the pandemic.
- Permission to post and advertise a second shift maintenance position if necessary.
- Per capita exoneration for one resident in Dimock Twp.
- Agreement with Comprehensive Consulting Services for CDL driver drug and alcohol testing.