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Tie vote keeps Muncy elementary students in school

MUNCY — By a 4-4 vote the Muncy School voted to allow students in the elementary school to continue in-person instruction, even while students in the High School move to remote learning prior to and in the week following the holiday break. The vote came at the board meeting held remotely Monday night.

Although the board voted on the issue at last week’s meeting, board members wanted to revisit the issue in light of the rise in cases of COVID-19 in the county.

Students at the high school had returned this week to in-person learning, but are scheduled to be remote for Dec. 21 and 22 and Jan. 1 through 8. They will return to in-person instruction on Jan. 11. Students at the elementary level will be in school for those dates. Their holiday break begins on Dec. 23 and runs through Jan. 1, with return to school slated for Jan. 4.

The discussion of whether elementary students should go remote centered on the difficulties of younger children handling the remote model of instruction while also considering the health of staff if the students are in school five days a week, particularly after the holiday break.

“I, for one would very much be in favor of revisitng that issue especially in light of the fact that we do see our cases going up,” said board member Lisa Sleboda.

“I understand that transmission may not be going on greatly within the school and greatly among children who are younger at the elementary level, but we also do have an obligation to protect our staff,” she added.

Board member Sarah Woodward concurred with Sleboda.

“We saw the spike after Thanksgiving and now, you know, we have teachers who are very sick and lots of kids at risk,” Woodward stated.

One counter argument centered on the fact that cases could rise even higher in the new year and more closures might be necessary.

Elementary teacher Jodi Bohart told the board that moving to distance learning is difficult for students in the lower grades.

“It’s just more difficult with elementary students, but at the same time the health and safety of the kids and the staff is important,” Bohart said.

“So, it’s a toss-up, I guess you could say, but there are definitely concerns,” she added.

Board members voting to keep the district calendar as approved last week with the elementary remaining in in-person for the days specified were: David Edkin, Steven Hill, Scott Johnson and Kim Walker. Those voting to remote learning district-wide for those dates were: Joseph Earnest, David Frederick, Sleboda and Woodward. Carla Auten was absent.

Because the vote resulted in a tie, according to Christopher Kenyon, board solicitor, the outcome of the previous vote on the issue stays.

In other business the board voted to amend the district’s health and safety plan to include the increase from three to four the number of cases of coronavirus that would trigger a move to remote learning. This action also included decreasing the number of days of distance learning to require three to five days.

The board also approved the resolution for attesting and ensuring implementation of mitigation efforts. Sleboda and Woodward were the lone no votes on the motion.

Under personnel, the board approved the following appointments: Cristy Bower, cafeteria substitute, $9.75 per hour; Brooke Miller, paraprofessional, $9.63 per hour and Nevada Davidson, pay adjustment from $11.50 to $12.00 per hour.

The board approved the retirement of Gary Smith, secondary mathematics teacher and adjusted the retirement date for Barbara Waltz, cafeteria worker, to Dec. 7.

The following athletic appointments were approved:

• The resignation of Lucas Drick, assistant Jr. High wrestling coach.

• George Walters, Michael Driscoll and Brad Kunkle, elementary wrestling volunteers.

• John Nixon, assistant Jr. High wrestling volunteer. 4

• Madalyn Confer, gamer worker, per season rate.

• Whitney Persun, volunteer Odyssey of the Mind coach.

The next regular board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 18, 2021.

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