DASD Board approves new back-to-school plan by Glenn Schuckers

When students in the DuBois Area School District report for their first day on August 24 and 25, schools will look much different than was anticipated as late as two weeks ago. At that time the plan that was adopted at the regular July meeting allowed parents and students to choose from four options, one of which was to attend in-person classes full time. That plan is now on hold .

The new plan that was presented to parents on Tuesday, August 11, limited the number of students in all buildings by one-half. Due to the rate of infections of COVID-19 in Clearfield County standing at 29 per 100,00, the schools, after consultation with state health doctors, the State Department of Education and local health officials at Penn Highlands DuBois, decided that  having large numbers of students in the buildings would not be a good plan. From the beginning of the current health epidemic, school officials have stated that one of their primary goals was to insure the safety of all students, and the officials at Penn Highlands DuBois reported they have seen increases in the past few weeks.

To further that goal of safety, the new plan divides all students into two teams, the DuBois Team, whose first day will be August 24, and the Beavers Team, whose first day will by August 25. Students whose last name begins with the letters A – K have been assigned to the DuBois Team, while those whose last name begins with the letters L – Z have been assigned to the Beavers Team. Superintendent Wendy Benton added that where there are children in a family whose last names may be different, parents should call their school principals to make sure students can be assigned to the same team.

Students in each team will attend in-person classes every other day, with one team going to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week and Tuesday and Thursday the next, while the other team will be in school Tuesday  and Thursday the first week and Monday, Wednesday and Friday the next. Implementing this plan will mean that only one-half of the district’s students will be in a building at one time. Each “team” has approximately 1,700 students in grades K – 12. The school day for high school and middle school students will begin at 7:45 a.m. and 7:42 a.m. respectively and end at 2:35 p.m. Children in grades K – 5 will begin their day at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

All students will be eligible for free breakfasts and lunches and each group will be given a breakfast and lunch in a sealed plastic bag.

The school has a variety of methods for checking attendance and students will be required to fulfill requirements for their educational plan as adopted by the district.

This plan was adopted by a 7-1 vote of the board members and will remain in effect as long as the community remains in the “moderate” level of infections. That level will be checked every two weeks and when the level falls below 10, the schools will return to the earlier plan allowing all students who want to attend in-school to return.

Since the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) had not announced its decision regarding fall sports, the board took no action at the meeting regarding fall sports.

Before detailing the new plan the board heard a presentation from the architectural and design team of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates outlining plans for the renovation of the Oklahoma Elementary School.

Some of the highlights of that plan include the construction of a new gymnasium so the present multipurpose room can be used as a dedicated cafeteria only. Entrances will be moved to provide more security,  and a driveway will be relocated to remove it from a playground area. Depending on budget considerations the roof may be insulated and other upgrades such as windows may be included.  The plan calls for more Board presentations as well as state approval. Construction for the project could begin as early as late 2021 and completion may be possible in the next two years. No cost for the entire project has been announced at this time.

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