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Nearly Three-quarters of UPSD Students Choose Brick and Mortar
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Nearly three-quarters of the Upper Perkiomen students who responded to a Student Education Declaration plan on starting the 2020-21 school year at a brick-and-mortar school. Roughly 73.2 percent of parents and guardians surveyed said their students will attend a school in person, according to Nicole Gum, a spokesperson for the Upper Perkiomen School District.

            More than 82 percent of students in the district, which totals 3,374, responded to the survey. Approximately 2,028 students will attend an Upper Perkiomen school in person. Additionally, 24.5 percent (678) will utilize the Upper Perkiomen Online Learning Academy. More than two percent (61) plan to pursue other educational options, according to an email received Tuesday morning from Gum.

            The spokesperson did not provide final figures compiled from a second survey question related to busing. According to Gum, the district's transportation team is still examining the declaration results and working on bus schedules, routes and plans. She wrote that the goal is to keep one or two students to a seat.

            "As far as transportation is concerned, of course with students attending the Online Learning Academy, as well as a potentially greater number of parents choosing to drop off/pick up students at school, we anticipate that our bus ridership will look a little different than in years past," Gum wrote.

            District officials hope to release more information about the Health & Safety Plan and other relevant topics to the community between now and the August 13 regular board meeting through regular communications with families and staff, according to the spokesperson.

            According to information provided earlier this month, 684 respondents will require transportation to and from school. Parents and family members of 164 children will take care of getting them to school. The use of school transportation dipped by 121, according to a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina at a July 13 school board meeting.

            Students wishing to transition from in-person learning to the online academy during the school year will have three options to make the transition. Declarations for the first new model, which begins Nov. 9, must be made by Oct. 26. The second transition period, which begins Feb. 1, requires a declaration by Jan. 19. The final transition period, which starts April 6, mandates a declaration deadline of March 22. The phases are necessary to allow administrators time to consider scheduling busing, meal arrangements and other factors for each student, according to Superintendent Allyn Roche.

            Students participating in the online academy will be held to the same academic requirements, expectations and standards as those taking in-person classes, according to Kimberly Bast, the district's Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She said it will fulfill the state's requirements of 180 days and 990 hours.

"We're really trying to spell out what this will look like," Bast said during the meeting.

            According to Bast, administrators hope to make the transition to and from on-line learning seamless.

            Roche said the district will offer the online academy throughout the entire school year regardless of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

            Bast also said the district is better prepared to serve the student population should it be forced to close all buildings.





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