When: Cocalico school board meeting, Jan. 11.
What happened: Superintendent Ella Musser outlined plans to transition middle and high school students back to the classroom four days a week starting Feb. 1. After that, students will continue to learn remotely on Wednesdays, giving the district an extra day to sanitize buildings.
What’s next: Leaders expect to bring all students back five days a week on March 1, if local cases of COVID-19 remain on a downward trend. The district has ordered HEPA filters for classrooms where student desks cannot be spaced six feet apart if schools are at full capacity. Administrators are also planning new seating contingencies for common spaces like cafeteria and libraries. District officials meet weekly with a representative from Lancaster General Health for updated COVID-19 mitigation guidance.
Background: The district began contemplating a full-time return last fall, but moved in the opposite direction as cases skyrocketed regionally and within school buildings. Students worked fully remote around the winter holidays, when hundreds had to quarantine and substitutes for sick teachers were hard to hire. Many parents in the district have asked the district to reopen full time, citing impacts on academics and social isolation.
Quotable: “We are doing what we can to maintain a safe and orderly environment … and to look at ways we can still protect our students as we bring more of them into the buildings,” Musser said. She and Assistant Superintendent Stephen Melnick also cited the expected availability of vaccinations for educators as a contributing factor in the reopening timeline.