Danville Area High School

Robert Inglis/The Daily Item

The Danville High School

DANVILLE — Students in the Danville Area School District can return to class, learn online or do a little of both when school opens.

The school board Wednesday night approved an updated version of the back-to-school plan presented at a special meeting a week earlier. Superintendent Ricki Boyle gave a detailed description of the academic plans, as well as health and safety precautions the district will take to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Some parents criticized the board and administrators earlier in the meeting on Zoom, questioning how the board could reveal and vote on a plan before the public had to review and comment on it.

Parent Launie Ryer said she could find no specific details online on the district's cyber learning program. 

Anthony Petrick commented, "You didn't have a plan a week ago for online learning, now we have a plan and will be voted on."

Boyle said the plan is similar to plan presented at the board's special meeting last week, and the administration conducted another survey that showed about 60 percent of parents who answered favored a return to in-person school.

She later detailed the plans for curriculum and health and safety. 

Under the approved plan, all students would attend class either in school or online, five days a week. The plan presented last week would have had in-school secondary students attend four days and virtual school one day. But Boyle said the Bridge Model offers synchronous classes in which at-home students can participate live with the class, so teachers would not need the extra day to prepare to teach online students, the reasoning behind the four-day plan.

The live model instruction uses district teachers online and allows the online students to follow their scheduled assignments on Google Classroom.

The approved plan also expands the district cyber academy to include all grades, not just sixth through 12th.

Boyle said the district improved the cyber program over what was offered in the spring.

She likened the difference between the spring online offerings to the new offerings as the difference "swimming in a mud hole and swimming in an Olympic pool."

Gregory Titman, a teacher in the high school, said the district has purchased different software options that weren't available in the spring. He appreciated the administrators giving teachers more resources and was happy about the synchronous classes. 

Students will be required to wear masks in school except when they are eating or drinking, be 6 feet apart from others or participating in activities where wearing a mask would be dangerous, Boyle said.

Some parents, such as Grace Showalter, asked what the school would do if a student or teacher is ill or has COVID symptoms.

Under the plan, if a student is symptomatic, they will be masked, if they aren't already, evaluated by a school nurse and immediately isolated. The areas used by the sick student or staff member will be closed off and cleaned. the student will be sent home and the family instructed to contact their family physician or the Geisinger hotline.

Boyle said social distancing is a very important part of the plan, and the district is asking families to pre-screen students using a questionnaire before sending them to school.

If the child is not feeling well, they should stay home.

Students will wash their hand several times a day, and will be instructed in proper hygiene.

Buses will be disinfected twice a day, students will have assigned seating on buses and in classes and not change classes as much.

Visitors to buildings will be limited and there will be no volunteers in schools until further notice.

The next steps are for parents to submit options for instruction, principals to complete detailed plans and the district to finalize plans for transportation, food service and other areas. 

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