When: Cocalico school board meeting, Oct. 26.
What happened: District officials reported they are developing a plan to return secondary students to school five days a week and will present further information when the board meets Nov. 9.
Background: The board previously discussed a return-to-school approach Oct. 12 and followed up with a student and parent survey that was filled out by about 30% of families.
Public comment: More than a dozen parents, staff members and high school students who made public comments remained split on whether the district should abandon a hybrid plan that brings sixth through 12th-grade students to school two days a week in two different groups. Students work on assignments from home on remaining days, which helps reduce class size and promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some speakers questioned whether preparing students to go back to school now was appropriate given an increasing local case rate. Others argued students need more in-person time to improve academic performance and decrease anxiety.
Board response: “We really do want to work together to find the best solutions for the things that we face,” board President Kevin Eshleman said, noting that any decisions will be based on both instructional needs and the latest health data. “Let’s simply remain united on the goal.” Eshleman noted the community would need to remain mindful of COVID-19 protocols and precautions both in school and out to make for a successful reentry. He praised staff for making “very significant adjustments” this year.
What’s next: The district has not set a date for a full-time return, and it could be influenced by the latest medical information. The Nov. 9 board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Cocalico High School auditorium.