Coatesville high school

Coatesville Area Senior High School.

While most of the Coatesville Area School District’s 5,365 students will begin the school year on Aug. 31 with virtual instruction, the district is bringing 116 of its most vulnerable students — those with disabilities and English language learners — back into classrooms for in-person instruction.

That’s the plan — to be carried out with drastic social distancing, masking, and frequent hand washing and classroom sanitizing — Superintendent Tomas Hanna shared with the school board during a remote Aug. 25 school board meeting.

Home and classroom learners will have similar daily schedules, but for those in school there will be school nurses on site and breaks for cleaning. All students will receive free breakfasts and lunches, but meals will be distributed from Coatesville High School, Scott Middle School and Rainbow Elementary School for students learning remotely.

Hanna said Coatesville is following the latest advice of the Chester County Health Department, which recommends that after Oct. 9 districts expand in-person instruction for special education, career and technology education and preschool students.

As of the meeting, not all parents of the 116 identified students had formally accepted the district’s invitation to in-person learning. Twelve families said they wanted their students to continue with virtual instruction this fall.

Extracurricular sports are on hold for now, said Hanna, even though the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is recommending schools proceed with fall sports. Hanna said student athletes have been practicing since July 7. Coaches handled one documented case of COVID-19 that was contained, and Hanna said the district will closely monitor staff and athletes as practices continue.

In other action, the school board authorized personnel changes including the resignation of Joseph McNamara as intermediate school assistant principal. The board also approved contract with Brandywine Virtual Academy of the Chester County Intermediate Unit for online courses for about 225 students at a cost of $683 per one-credit course.