Quakertown Community district parents may not know what school will look like, but they will know when school starts.
Last week, school board members decided on Sept. 14 to give teachers more time to prepare for a possible combination of in-person and virtual learning, coordinate busing, and allow for extra time for the Neidig Elementary renovation to be completed and ready for students.
If the district had started on the original date of August 31, elementary students would have had to use the Tohickon Valley building and displaced Faith Christian Academy students for the first 11 days of the school year.
Even with the extra days, the district has the unenviable task of placating staff, parents and students while adhering to state COVID-19 guidelines. Those guidelines, with some exceptions, will require children ages 2 and up to wear masks while at school and on the buses, which the district says it will enforce with penalties for violators.
“We must wear masks to stop the spread of this disease, said board member Jennifer Weed. “I’m tired of this becoming some political issue. This is a health issue.”
“That’s not true,” replied an unidentified woman, who was then muted.
Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards said staff and students will be expected to quarantine for two weeks if they have visited a state with a high rate of infection over the summer.
The district’s health plan also calls for daily and nightly cleanings, eliminates gatherings in the cafeteria, bans field trips and severely restricts in-person visits to buildings.
Going forward, the district will survey families on a number of instructional options; those include full virtual, full-time live instruction five days a week (dependent on building capacity), and a partial in-school option. Whatever option families choose, the assistant superintendent told the online meeting that there would be opportunities for virtual and in-school students to learn simultaneously.
Also at the meeting, directors Ron Jackson and Mitchell Anderson announced their resignations. The two were a study in contrasts: Jackson was outspoken and combative at times while Anderson, a former district teacher, was soft-spoken and rarely contributed to discussions.