The Midd-West School District will hold four public meetings in July to engage the community in a discussion of reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district intends to start school as scheduled on Aug. 24, but students will have the option of remaining at home and taking cyber classes, said Joe Stroup, director of curriculum and inclusion.
For the students who will be returning to the district's four buildings, he said, the administration has some proposals they will share at the meetings and is looking for suggestions from the public to ensure everyone feels safe.
"We need to get as much input as possible," he said.
A survey of families showed that 70 percent want students to return to school but don't want them to have to wear masks while about 12 percent of parents are "very concerned" about sending them to school where they will be around others without face coverings, Stroup said.
"We can't lose 11 to 12 percent of our population," he said of the need for acceptable options.
The district is getting some guidance for reopening from the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, but Stroup said every district has its own issues and no plan will be identical.
One major issue facing all school districts is transportation.
"You can't maintain social distancing on a bus," said Stroup.
To keep costs down, he said, the district will encourage parents who are able to transport their children to and from school.
Midd-West Education Association President Chris Snyder said the staff is ready to educate students in the fall.
We "recognize these are unprecedented times and that some flexibility is necessary. We are ready to work together to provide the best education for students while maintaining the safety and well-being of everyone," he said.