The Tunkhannock Area School District will divide grades 7-12 into cohorts to rotate between in-person and virtual instruction this fall.
One half will attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other will come on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will be a virtual classroom day for all 7-12 students, Superintendent Heather McPherson said last week.
The district is developing its Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, with intentions to present a completed template next week.
The Tunkhannock Area School Board had a limited agenda on July 9, with most of its meeting dedicated to a presentation from McPherson about progress on filling out PDE’s template for the plan.
Last week, McPherson and others from TASD went over the template with community leaders, which requires school districts to implement strategies, policies and procedures for various categories.
McPherson said this includes cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation; social distancing and other safety protocols; monitoring student and staff health; other considerations for students and staff; and communication and professional development.
The next step is to complete the template, then reconvene the panel of stakeholders for review before submitting it to the school board for ratification.
“Then we would implement the plan for the first marking period only,” she said, noting it will change as the COVID-19 situation develops. “In order to do this well… we need to roll this out slowly and discover what it is that we don’t know.”
At the beginning of October, the panel will reassess the plan.
McPherson elaborated on plans for this fall, some of which were previously discussed with the public. For instance, the district plans to utilize nine classrooms at the former Mehoopany Elementary School to allow all K-6 students to have in-person instruction each day.
McPherson assured that these plans allow for social distancing, making masks unnecessary to wear all day. The district has ordered 100,000 masks to give students and employees each day, but they will mainly be required for transition times where social distancing isn’t always possible.
Teachers have already been exploring the free version of Canvas, the district’s new online platform, but she said it’s being officially rolled out to them this week.
Students and their parents can expect an introduction to Canvas at a later date.
Plans for areas such as transportation safety, dealing with suspected cases of COVID-19, and how electives like band will operate remain in the works, but she assured the administration will have more detailed answers soon.
Enrollment for Fusion C3, the district’s cyber program which will open to all students this fall, won’t open until the Health and Safety Plan is approved.
“The goal is not just to return to school. The goal is to embrace the difficult strategies that will allow us to remain in school,” McPherson said.
She welcomes parents to call her directly with questions at 570-836-3111, ext. 1000.
In other business, board member Lori Bennett said the Extracurricular Committee plans to amend the athletic guidelines to reflect Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent face mask order and have it ready for adoption at the next meeting.
The board approved the following, with board members William Prebola and William Swilley absent:
- Resignations from Justin Muthler, girls tennis coach; Victoria King, girls head swim coach; and Claire Kilker, junior high volleyball coach, for the 2020-21 season.
- Dual enrollment agreements with Lackawanna College (effective July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021) and Keystone College (effective Sept. 1, 2020-June 30, 2021).
- Agreement with PA Treatment & Healing for the 2020-21 school year.
- Agreement with Apple Tree Educational Associates for contracted psychologist services (effective Aug. 1, 2020-June 30, 2021).
- Volunteer appointments for the 2020-21 school year.
- Extra pay position appointments.
The Tunkhannock Area School Board is scheduled to meet again on July 23 in the high school auditorium at 7:30 p.m. It will also be live streamed. Visit tasd.net for access information.
Community members unable to attend in person can email questions to email@example.com.