EAGLEVILLE, PA — Methacton School District tentatively plans to have an in-person schooling option this fall, part of a dual option plan which also offers families and students the choice of taking classes online.
The announcement comes as Montgomery County officials recently issued their countywide school reopening guidelines, which require masks and discourage large gatherings, field trips and extracurricular activities.
Methacton’s reopening plan includes an Aug. 31 start date. All students and staff must wear a face covering in schools, unless they are seated at desks that are six feet apart. This, however, will not always be possible.
“While some health organizations recommend 6’ distance for grades K -12, it may not be practical for students 100% of the school day,” the district notes in their plan.
Otherwise, face coverings can only be removed outdoors when social distancing is possible, while eating and drinking in a socially distanced manner, and when able to be six feet away from the nearest individual.
Symptom screenings will be in place before any student gets on board a school bus or enters a school building.
Furthermore, all students in grades 5 through 12 will be required to wear a district-issued lanyard with district identification on it, either around their neck or on their backpack.
Classrooms are being rearranged so that teachers can be well removed from desks wherever possible, and desks are being spaced apart. As of Thursday, the district is still finalizing plans on the maximum number of seats the can fit in given classrooms.
Other changes including having all students eat breakfast in their homerooms, and students in grades 1-4 eat lunch in their homerooms, too.
All students will be moved into the online instruction option if the school is forced to shut down again.
Debate continues to rage over whether schools should be allowed to open in person. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued updated guidance, but health officials continue to note the risks.
“(School districts) cannot guarantee there will not be coronavirus in their schools this year,” Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said during a news conference Wednesday. “It’s just not possible. You know how contagious this virus is.”
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the physical, emotional, and mental health of children is dependent upon returning to the classroom.
Pennsylvania State Education Association President Rich Askey, in a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, said it is “extremely important for Pennsylvania’s public schools to plan for the distinct possibility that further increases in COVID-19 cases will make it impossible to safely reopen Pennsylvania’s schools for in-person instruction.”
This article originally appeared on the Lower Providence Patch