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Palisades school district awaits state clarification on masking, compulsory attendance


The Palisades School Board has pushed back its July 15 meeting one week as it awaits additional guidance from the state on resuming school this fall.

The meeting will now take place on July 22.

While the State Department of Health issued specific requirements on universal masking in all public, private and parochial schools last week, the secretary of education is expected to release further guidance this week, said Superintendent Dr. Bridget O’Connell in a message to the district community.

The school board is also awaiting clarification on compulsory attendance requirements for the upcoming school year. All commonwealth school districts are required to be open for at least 180 days of instruction; in the spring, the governor closed schools and altered the 180-day requirement in response to the shutdown, O’Connell said.

“The state legislature has indicated that the governor may not alter days for the 2020-2021 school year, which means that, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education just this week, districts must ask their board of school directors to approve a motion that would grant the opportunity to offer remote instruction (learning from home) to count as a school day,” O’Connell said.

Information on masking and compulsory attendance requirements, which O’Connell hopes to receive clarity on by the end of the week, will be included in the Palisades Health and Safety Plan, she said.

At the end of the week, the district is also planning on sharing frequently asked questions generated by a parent survey released last week. Parental feedback is being used to both reevaluate sections of the Health and Safety Plan and to create the FAQ section, O’Connell said.