Last week, the Hollidaysburg Area School District moved both its senior and junior high schools to virtual learning until December 1.
But following a recent school board meeting, the entire district is going remote until at least early 2021.
“We spoke with the school board and they were very open to hear what we were saying,” said Dr. Maureen Letcher, Hollidaysburg Area Senior High principal. “The same reason why we went completely remote until December 1 is the reason why we are extending it.”
On Wednesday night, the school board chose to move all schools to virtual learning until January 3 after a unanimous vote.
Letcher said 9 individuals from the high school are currently COVID-19 positive, forcing 218 to quarantine after possible exposure.
She said there are 6 active cases in the junior high and 147 in quarantine.
“Those studies aren’t receiving much direct instruction because they’re just getting assignments through the Google classroom which would be assignments posted by the teacher or many teachers are putting videos out of some direct instruction lesson,” Letcher said.
Moving to a fully remote plan allows every student to receive direct instruction every day.
The school board decision sends the district’s elementary school students home for the first time in months.
While the junior and senior high schools will follow a class structure like a normal day, Letcher said elementary students will be able to access instruction at any time, even if they are unable to participate in the live virtual classroom.
“Every one of those direct instruction lessons are going to be recorded and uploaded to that teacher’s Google classroom for a parent to access with their child later,” Letcher said.
Both the junior and senior high schools moved to virtual classes at the beginning of the week and Letcher said the response from students and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive.
She expects the process will be much easier this time around.
“In the spring, it was like one day this happened,” Letcher said. “We’ve had lots of preparation for this. It’s never enough time because every day something is changing, but what we have in place now we think is great.”
Letcher said all-inclusive classrooms, autism support and life skills classes will still be taking place in school buildings.
A free-lunch pickup will resume on Thursdays and includes five meals.
Letcher reminds students and parents that the district’s mental health support systems will still be in place.