DASD school board holds special session and approves middle school and high school in-person attendance by Glenn Schuckers

By a vote of 8 to 1, the DuBois Area School Board approved the latest plan to have students return to in-person, full time attendance at the district’s Middle and High Schools. The lone vote against the plan was cast by director Dave Schwab after a motion by Bob Wachob to adopt the plan was passed on a roll call vote. The new plan will go into effect beginning on November 2 and 9th, with 5th and 6th grade students at the Middle School and all High School students returning on Monday Nov. 2, and the 7th and 8th grade students at the Middle School returning a week later on November 9th.

All elementary schools have been open full time since Monday, October 19th, and parents of students in all grades will retain the right to continue on-line distance learning if they prefer not to have their children return to in-person classes.

Superintendent Wendy Benton explained that the District has been trying to walk a “fine line” between the benefits of in-person school where students attend regular classes, while on the other hand keeping them safe during the Covid-19 epidemic.

At the beginning of the meeting three on-line parents expressed their doubts about bringing students back at this time, stating they felt as long as infections continue to grow in the community, the current system of dividing students into two teams was working and they opposed a change at this time. The areas covered by the District remain in the “moderate” infection rate.

Benton continued that although the community is in that range, the rate of “positivity” has grown somewhat since the plan was first mentioned at the October 15th work session. Since that time she said teachers and administrators had been working on the plan that will now go into effect.

As part of a slide presentation she gave before the vote, Benton noted that there have been three cases of the virus at the High School and 26 people have been quarantined, one case at the Middle School with one quarantined, two at C.G. Johnson Elementary with thirteen quarantined, two at Juniata Elementary with 11 quarantined, while both Wasson and Oklahoma Elementary schools have had no cases. The total of all persons, students, faculty and staff since the beginning of school stands at eight, with a total of 92 having been or now in quarantine.

With the number of students in all grades using distance learning, the Virtual Academy, and early release and work programs at the high school, the buildings will not be close to their capacity, although with students returning full-time, social distancing may not be as complete as it has been.

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