Hybrid, and Virtual: Pottsgrove Poses Two Return Options

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Two return-to-education options for the 2020-2021 academic year, as the pandemic continues, arrived Monday (July 20, 2020) from the Pottsgrove School District: a hybrid return to education, in which students and teachers go back into schools two days a week, and learn online the other three; and full weeks of live and recorded online-only content with teacher availability.

District parents who expressed opinions publicly seemed unsurprised by the choices, but some said they had hoped for more information on either. Notable by its absence was the lack of a third option: a full return to classroom sessions only.

In a letter announcing the choices, district Superintendent Dr. William Shirk characterized coming weeks as a “critical time period” in preparing for students’ scheduled return on Aug. 31 (Monday). He repeated his request that parents notify Pottsgrove about their choices for their students, for a minimum duration of a trimester at the elementary level and the first marking period at the secondary level, by July 30 (Thursday) at 3 p.m.

“Both options are provided by our own highly qualified teaching staff,” Shirk wrote, and both “keep students enrolled in Pottsgrove, allowing students to participate in any and all school programs and extracurricular activities.”

In making their selections known, Shirk noted, parents will be able to best meet the needs of their children, while the district ensures the safety of students and staff in addressing “their academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs.”

Register in advance for town hall meeting

Specific whats, whens, and hows of the choices – from parents who said they want to know details ranging from the buildings’ air filtration systems, to the learning-time balance of live, synchronous, and asynchronous content – are expected to be answered in a parent town hall meeting that in part covers the upcoming release of Pottsgrove’s phased school reopening health and safety plan.” It’s scheduled for Wednesday (July 22) beginning at 7 p.m. in a Zoom online conference.

The Board of School Directors expects to vote on the health and safety plan July 30, board President Robert Lindgren reported.

Receiving questions in advance will help the district “better plan the town hall meeting, allowing us to answer frequently asked questions,” Shirk wrote. “We will make every effort to answer all questions either during the … meeting or on our district website.”

And apparently the district understands providing answers may take awhile. Its Zoom session is officially scheduled to close Thursday (July 23) at 3 a.m., eight hours after it starts, according to a confirmation notice received Monday by The Post.

Two transportation options

Two choices also exist for transportation under the hybrid option, according to the letter. Parents can have students ride two per seat, with all riders wearing face coverings, in district buses that are “sanitized after each run.” The alternative option: “you may elect to provide your own transportation,” Shirk told them.

Knowing parents’ transportation preferences also will help the district identify bus stops, maintain social distancing, and reduce student time on buses, he explained.

Shirk’s letter acknowledged, however, that all planning may be for naught if pandemic conditions worsen. Pottsgrove is preparing for its return options “as long as state, country, and public health advisories allow,” he noted, but added they “may be adjusted with any new guidance.”

Photo by The Post