Get our newsletters

Central Bucks School Board holds firm on school opening procedures

The Central Bucks School Board members shared their plans for the upcoming semester, and addressed any concerns that parents might have about the upcoming school year at their meeting on Aug. 25.
In particular, the board unveiled plans for remote learning as well as a plan for students to safely return to sports.
The meeting featured several highlights, from plans to provide teachers with Logitech Webcams to even the formal resignation of the school board’s president, Beth Darcy. Though Darcy will be retaining her seat on the board, the role of president will be taken over by Tracy Suits of Region 5, with Karen Smith serving as vice president.
Throughout the night, one topic of discussion dominated the meeting: the potential return of fall sporting events.
In response to COVID-19’s continued prevalence, CBSD recently declared that the start of its fall semester would take place in an entirely virtual classroom, as opposed to the hybrid system the district was planning to implement. Fall sporting events are no different, with some high-risk sports such as football getting delayed for up to four weeks.
The district has devised a multi-phase plan to get student athletes back on the field. Starting with the continuation of off-season practice with the help of coaches, the final phase of the plan will see a return to normalcy, or at least as close to normalcy as possible while still maintaining preventive measures such as social distancing and limiting crowd sizes.
While many parents were happy with the decision to keep their children home, others were less than satisfied. Shortly after roll call, the board decided to read aloud the comments and feedback that the school district had recently received.
The feedback messages, which totaled 100 and took roughly an hour to read through, were overwhelmingly critical towards the district’s decision, as it would also result in school sports being delayed. Some responses politely argued their case, citing the many benefits of school sports, such as fostering emotional and physical health, or offering college scholarships that, for some, are a necessity to pay for tuition.
Others took more emotional approaches, such as proclaiming the hardships children are facing with no sports to play. Some responses were simple phrases, like “#letthemplay,” or “Kids need sports,” written repeatedly. A few even took to directly attacking the school board, claiming that they “weren’t doing their job,” and should just resign if they will not let students back into the classroom.
The comments varied widely, though they all had the same topic (aside from one outlier, who instead urged the schools to directly acknowledge the shooting of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole).
Despite the backlash, Smith is adamant on remaining virtual. Coming to that decision was not easy, though Smith believes this to be the best option given the current state of the pandemic. “The decisions schoolboard members were making during this pandemic are unprecedented, and I plan to take my responsibility extremely carefully,” said Smith. “Schools are a part of our greater community and I’m weighing all factors in my decision-making.”
In the end, the school board’s decisions were influenced not by the public, but by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Citing CHOP and other reputable sources, Smith discredited some of the misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 virus, hoping to explain why the district changed their plans to entirely virtual. CHOP recommends that COVID-19 cases be at a positivity rate of 1-2 percent and an incidence rate of 10 out of 100,000 or less before schools should open again.
“These rates have been followed in other countries around the world, and have allowed countries that reopen to stay open,” Smith continued. “And staying open is the goal.”

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.