Columbia School 8.jpg

Students head back to school as Columbia Borough School District kicks off the 2018-19 school year on Monday, August 20, 2018.

When: Columbia Borough school board meeting, Aug. 20.

What happened: Because of a recent state Department of Health guideline discouraging full-time, in-person instruction amid the pandemic, the board unanimously approved a motion to reopen schools districtwide under a blended learning model for the 2020-21 school year.

Reopening plan: Last month, the school board adopted a phased health and safety plan to implement various policies deemed necessary to fully reopen schools. This week, board members voted to instead reopen its schools with a staggered schedule, in which students attend class in person two days a week and learn at home three days a week. Families can still opt between an online and blended learning model at any time to accommodate changes in a student’s health or circumstances.

Openings delayed: The board unanimously approved a motion to push back the start of school from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31. This delay will provide teachers with additional in-service days to adapt to new in-class and online tools.

State of emergency: The board adopted a resolution to implement a districtwide emergency for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Background: In accordance with the Pennsylvania Public School Code, school districts are expected to provide 180 days of instruction over the 2020-21 school year. This resolution, according to its official document, would allow the board to implement various provisions to “reduce the spread of COVID-19” in district schools. These provisions include the use of remote or hybrid schedules, changes in when or how often students must attend schools, and adjustments to the length of time learners spend in classrooms, the resolution states.

What’s next: District officials will continue to monitor the status of the pandemic throughout next school year and act accordingly.

Resignations: The board approved the resignation of Michael Smith as principal at Columbia High School, effective Sept. 30. The district expects to name a successor by the end of next month.