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BASD Votes to Start School Online
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-08-26

            The Boyertown Area School Board unanimously approved a recommendation by administrators to start the 2020-21 school year in a virtual fashion. During their voting meeting, the members voted 8-0 to conduct classes predominately online when classes begin Monday.

            Beginning Monday, all students will start the new year in BASD Virtual Learning and remain in the format through at least Oct. 5, according to Marybeth Torchia, the district's substitute superintendent of schools. She said some students with special needs will receive in-person learning.

            Late last week, administrators announced their intent to suspend a plan to begin school with face-to-face learning. An Aug. 21 letter from Torchia to the Boyertown Learning Community cites professional and support staffing shortages, which have significantly exceeded the administration's expectations, as the primary reason.

            "We understand that many will be disappointed, even angered, by this current development," the letter states. "We know that it directly impacts the lives of families across our district in countless ways. Please know that this decision was not made lightly. There is nothing we can do other than to apologize and explain the last-minute changes that have led to our decision at this late date."

            The shortages have grown and continue to grow on a daily basis, sometimes by five or more employees per day, according to the document.

            It also references a recent update by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to its guidance strongly recommending children age two and older should wear face coverings at all times to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Under any form of in-person learning – no matter how far apart – students would be mandated to wear their masks/face coverings at all times, with limited exceptions, according to the letter.

            Earlier this month, the board rejected a motion to start the 2020-21 school year 100 percent virtual. Ruth Dierolf, James Brophy, Christine Neiman, Roger Updegrove and Brian Hemingway voted against a recommendation by former Superintendent Dana Bedden, developed in collaboration with the district's teachers union, to hold online classes for all students during the initial nine weeks of the upcoming school year.

 


 

 

 

 

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