DANVILLE — Nearly 500 parents in the Danville Area School District — 52 percent of those who answered the survey — want a return to traditional face-to-face school, according to a report from Superintendent Ricki Boyle at Wednesday night's school board meeting.

A majority, 60 percent, would favor a return to school if everyone had to wear masks.

Boyle said surveying parents and faculty and staff was just one of several ways of seeking input to determine whether to reopen the schools in the fall. She said she also is culling information from meetings with other area school superintendents and from the state.

"This is by no means a plan," Boyle told the board.

Boyle and other administrators discussed various options, which district Business Manager Bobbi Ely said would come with additional costs that state and federal grants, and district general fund money, would cover.

That did not change the district's $44 million budget for 2020-2021, which the board adopted at the meeting. The budget, which is about the same as the preliminary spending plan approved last month, includes no tax increases.

The district is eligible to receive a $385,239 grant from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and a $212,465 Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency COVID-19 School Health and Safety Grant.

That money could help pay for some of the various extra costs, such as additional janitorial supplies, staff training, a pandemic coordinator and help make up loss in tax revenue due to higher unemployment.

Boyle said there are various considerations for reopening the schools. It could be a total reopen, though some students still could opt for distance learning out of health concerns; a mix of in-person and remote learning, or total remote learning, though that should include steps for returning to in-person learning, according to the superintendent's report.

In any return to the classroom, there will be an emphasis on hygiene, social distancing, students eating lunch at different locations in the high school, personal materials, such as crayons, for student use, rather than communal use of materials, and one-way traffic in hallways. Boyle said bus contractors would be required to disinfect their buses after both the morning and afternoon runs.

Administrators will come up a plan for a July 15 special board meeting, where board members and the public can discuss options for reopening school. The board members will vote on the plan at their regular monthly meeting July 22.

In other action at the meeting, the board approved the hiring of Jessica Noel as middle school assistant principal at a starting salary of $72,000; Mark Shifflet as a seventh-grade social studies teacher at the middle school at a starting salary of $53,168, and Nelson Rodriguez-Parada as a music and band teacher at the middle school, starting at a salary of $52,996.

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