Pottsgrove Proposes 4-Day Live Classroom Option

Empty Pottsgrove school buses await Thursday (at top) outside the high school, ready to transport students

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Continued decline in the rate of coronavirus transmissions across Montgomery County, a favorable indicator of progress in fighting the infection, is expected to give the Pottsgrove School District “greater flexibility” in opening its school buildings to all students for four days a week beginning April 6 (2021; Tuesday), Superintendent Dr. William Shirk Jr. reported.

The prospect of a live classroom four-day schedule would represent a significant step for Pottsgrove toward what many would consider normalcy in its education program. It has been upended and occasionally interrupted by the pandemic since March 2020.

The county population was moved last week by health officials from the “substantial range” of transmission rates into the less-severe “moderate” range, the first such change since last November when rates began to climb, Shirk observed.

Parents of families who choose to send students back into classrooms, under the district’s hybrid online and in-person option, currently do so only two days a week. For those who want continue in hybrid mode the four-day option (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays) would replace the two-day one, Shirk proposed in a letter publicly distributed Friday (Feb. 26).

Parents also would have the option of having students stay at home and participate in online-only schooling. “Students currently within the virtual program can continue with remote instruction,” Shirk pledged, “or choose to move to onsite instruction. Daily (online) schedules will remain identical to what is currently in place so that class sessions follow the same structure,” he wrote.

In either case and for all students, Shirk noted, Wednesdays would remain an asynchronous online instruction day.

The four-day proposal depends on several checklist items, Shirk’s letter noted:

  • The district’s Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan must be modified to “require continued social distancing in our classrooms of six feet to the greatest extent possible for our students,” he wrote. However, given many classrooms’ size limitations and the number of students who might be anticipated to return, a minimum distancing of three feet would be permitted. Appropriate public health regulators, presumably, must approve the specifics;
  • Six-foot distancing “will continue to be required for cafeteria seating, staff-to-staff, and staff-to-student interactions,” the letter stated;
  • “All other mitigation efforts will continue,” Shirk said, including “mandatory face coverings, frequent handwashing, sanitizing, ventilation procedures, and cleaning practices;”
  • District transportation would be provided for students on all live classroom days; and
  • The district Board of School Directors must approve the proposal.

Additions details as they concern each of Pottsgrove’s five school buildings are expected to be distributed to their students’ families “in the coming days,” Shirk wrote. That communication “will also include specific information on how (families) will indicate the virtual or on-site learning options for each of (their) students.”

Parents who receive building-specific letters and still have questions should call schools’ offices for answers, Shirk wrote.

Photo by The Post