Danville Area High School students will continue with the hybrid schedule until Oct. 2.

District Superintendent Ricki Boyle said in a message to parents on Tuesday that the every-other-day hybrid schedule at the high school has proven beneficial.

"With safety in mind, the high school will continue the hybrid model through October 2nd at the minimum," she wrote in the email message. "Updates will be sent as warranted. Additionally, given the change in providing dual instructional models, both in-person and virtual teaching, middle and high school students will have a 2-hour delay start on Wednesday, September 23rd. At this time, the Danville Middle School is being included due to the possible need for future changes in the instructional model and busing considerations."

The high school went virtual on Sept. 8 after a second high school student tested positive for COVID-19. The same day, one kindergarten class was sent home to quarantine for two weeks after someone in the classroom also tested positive.

The high school moved to the hybrid model the following day. 

Boyle said later Tuesday night that administrators decided to stay with the hybrid model to continue to maintain social distancing with fewer students in the building. It could be extended again.

"The cases in Montour County have gone up over the past seven days," Boyle said, adding there were 15 new COVID cases in the past week. "I want to see it go down to where we have less than five cases in a  seven day period so we're feeling safe." 

She said, though, everyone seems pleased with the hybrid model, in which two groups of students alternate in-school and online bridge instruction. In the bridge model, students online watch their teacher present the lesson in the classroom as if they were in class. 

The superintendent said some parents of high school students were so impressed with the teachers in the bridge program that 30 students went totally bridge every day.

At the elementary school level, though, a number of parents requested their children return to in-person instruction. She did not have an estimate of many students returned to in-person school.

In addition, Boyle said, "A few from outside cyber schools are now coming to our cyber academy."

She said there have been no issues with anyone refusing to wear masks.

"We're not having issues," Boyle said. "I took a strong stance."

She said anyone who doesn't wear a mask and doesn't have a medical reason would be transferred to cyber school. She hasn't had to enforce that rule.

Laurie Fitzpatrick, whose daughter is a sophomore who started the school year in the bridge program full-time, said her daughter feels like she is connecting with her teachers and other students.

"I haven't heard any complaints from her about the technical things," Fitzpatrick said.

She believes it helps that she and her husband both work from home so their daughter is not alone all day. She said her daughter is around other teens in soccer and band, but online classes reduces her exposure to groups.

Fitzpatrick said she was one of the parents who pushed for the current offering, including the daily bridge program.

She said that under a previously proposed plan, "On Friday they would catch up with the bridge kids."

Boyle said the new offerings are a big change from the spring, when the district was thrown into providing online lessons for everyone during the COVID shutdown.

"We have a much more robust educational model," the superintendent said.

She said with new software, cameras and teacher training, "We are set up to make this totally successful."

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