School District outlines plan for fall opening

The Loyalsock Township School District plans for a full opening, five days a week, with classes beginning Aug. 31, according to Gerald McLaughlin, district superintendent.

What students can expect when they return was detailed at the school board meeting held via ZOOM Wednesday.

Students will take classes coinciding with the county’s phase; red, yellow or green, with the option of online learning at any time.

Under the green phase instruction would be in-person, which is what the district is aiming for at the opening of school. The yellow phase offers a hybrid model and the red phase is total remote learning.

In the event that the county returns to the yellow phase, more restrictive procedures would be put in place.

Classes in this phase would be scheduled so that half the student population in any building would be present at any given time. Students would then be divided alphabetically to determine which days they attend classes in-person and which days are done remotely. Students will have class every day, either in-person or remotely.

If the county pivots back to the red phase, all classes would be held remotely and schools would be shut down.

Going over the basics of the plan, which will be expanded on over the course of the next month, McLaughlin said that in respect to students social distancing while in school, the district cannot follow the six-foot guideline in all areas.

“A lot of classrooms we can, there are going to be place that we can’t,” he said, adding that in those places students will be required to wear a mask. Students will also wear masks on school buses, although they will be seated side-by-side.

The cafeteria will be a combination of some students eating in the classrooms, with students in the breakfast program getting grab and go meals. All meals will be served in the cafeteria, classrooms and designated areas. The number of meal choices for both breakfast and lunch will be limited and all utensils and condiments will be individually wrapped for students. Lunch times may be modified to decrease the number of students in the cafeteria at one time, according to the plan.

When asked about recess, Ashley Sekel, middle school principal, who introduced the plan with McLaughlin, said that recesses will be determined by grade level with only one grade on the playground at a time. She noted that things such as balls and jump ropes will be provided so that students will not have to share.

A remote option, called the Lancer Learning Institute, is available for online instruction if parents choose that for their child rather than sending them for in-person instruction.

McLaughlin noted that about 15 families have inquired about remote learning. He added that the district is asking anyone choosing that option commit to keeping their child in remote learning for at least the first semester.

McLaughlin stressed that what was introduced at the meeting were the basics of the plan and over the course of the next month, the district will work on specifics of the plan, such as checklists for teachers and employees as well as protocols and procedures.

He said that staff will be trained before the opening day of school and students will be trained once school begins on those protocols and procedures.

A complete copy of the district’s health and safety plan is on the district website.


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