“We have to be able to expand our ability to provide 5 day in-person (IP) instruction. It’s time to figure this out.”
Just minutes after that comment from North Penn School Board Vice President Christian Fusco, the Board did ‘figure this out’, and unanimously voted to approve 5 day IP learning beginning February 22.
Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich gave a presentation based on the results of the survey sent out after January’s action meeting. The results made clear that the district is able to meet the requests of the number of students who want to come into their buildings every day. Roughly ⅓ of elementary students requested that (2,325 of 6,458) and only ⅙ of secondary students did so (1,041 of 6,062). Additionally, 749 elementary students and 1003 secondary students will remain in the hybrid model.
Dr. Dietrich emphasized the fact that 6 feet of distance will continue, and there a handful of cases where classroom and/or teacher adjustments will need to be made. Some situations will require additional seats in large group areas (stages, multi-purpose rooms, etc). In 4 cases, the district is examining whether additional elementary teachers need to be hired (using federal grant money), some schedule changes may be necessary at the middle school level, and, in very limited circumstances, some elementary students may be asked to changed their teacher, or an entire teacher and class may be moved to a larger classroom.
“We had to look at every classroom in every building. These classrooms vary in size, how many students already were in the different delivery methods…so we can not make a blanket statement,” Dietrich explained.
Due to the complexity of scheduling of North Penn High School, administrators there are still working through all necessary changes.
By February 16- principals will communicate further deatils about 5 day IP learning to their families
February 16 through 19- staff and administrators will make any necessary changes (moving furniture, adjusting seating charts, etc.)
February 22- 5 day in-person instruction will begin
Multiple members of the Board sympathized with the frustrations felt throughout the District throughout this decision-making process.
“It’s been a long half of a school year. It’s been a long time -since March- that students have had some sense of normalcy when it comes to school. My original concerns were always with prioritzing safety, and I still think we are prioritizing safety first, but we have better information and understanding of transmission in schools,” Fusco noted.
They addressed the hesitations felt by many families who do not yet feel comfortable with this decision, but prided North Penn’s plan, which, unlike all other districts, gives students and families complete control to make whatever decision they are most comfortable with. No student is being forced to return to classrooms; everyone who chose virtual and hybrid will continue to follow those delivery methods.
“We’re giving the parents the choice of what is best for their child, which is what I like best about this plan,” Board Director Al Roesch said.
“This will never be perfect. It’s about consensus and compromise until we get over to the other side,” Director Jonathan Kassa added.
The next virtual North Penn School Board meeting will be on Thursday, February 18, at 7pm.