Jersey Shore schools look to state-proposed reopening phases, parent input
JERSEY SHORE — Jersey Shore Area School Board passed the district’s health and safety plan 9-0 during a livestreamed meeting Monday night.
The plan features three phases: the red, yellow and green phases, as outlined by the governor, explained Dr. Brian Ulmer, district superintendent.
The type of reopening chosen by the district, based on Lycoming and Clinton counties’ green designation, is for the total reopening of the schools but with the option for distance learning for some students and families out of safety concerns. The anticipated opening of schools is Aug. 27.
Now that it is approved, the health and safety plan will be posted on the district website and submitted to the state Department of Education. A list of the most frequently asked questions about the plan will also be online.
Parents are being asked to choose which option — in-person, totally remote or a hybrid model — they desire for their child.
“We’re going to ask parents to make a commitment for the first marking period to one of these options,” Ulmer said.
In introducing the plan, Ulmer noted that “no matter what happens this school year, there’s a potential that someone gets sick.”
“In the eyes of some people, we will never do enough and, in the eyes of others, we are doing too much,” Ulmer said.
“This plan that I’m presenting seeks to give parents options and make choices about what’s best for them and their families,” he added.
Ulmer pointed out that “no board, no administrator and no superintendent has ever been in this situation.”
He added that the pandemic team had engaged with medical professionals and stakeholders, as well as networking around the region in the state in creating the plan.
“We’ve made every attempt to be as safe as we can and still open our doors,” Ulmer said.
“I’m asking that we be patient and we understand what we are trying to implement as school opens. As we plan to reopen, we are all struggling with new orders and new guidance that change almost every day,” he continued.
“This plan could be obsolete tomorrow with one governor’s order, but we’ll continue to adjust the plan,” he added.
The plan outlines procedures for cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and ventilation as-needed, as well as protocols for social distancing and other safety issues.
Procedures for monitoring student and staff health are also a part of the plan.
“The Department of Education is telling us that contract tracing and notification are the jobs of the Department of Health. They gave us phone numbers as a school to contact if someone in our school would become sick or show symptoms,” Ulmer said.
He explained that the Department of Health would complete the contact tracing and consult with the school district about how to respond to the issue. That department would also be the one to monitor transmission rates and surveillance metrics across the state.
“And based on that surveillance, they will issue guidance related to school closures that are targeted within districts or within individual schools,” he said.
Board members present were: Craig Allen, Patrice Doebler, Michelle Stemler, David Becker, Nancy Petrosky, Angela Grant, Mary Thomas, Harry Brungard and Wayne Kinley.
The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 10.