Wednesday, November 25, 2020


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County Vote Delays Start of UPSD's Hybrid Learning
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            A vote late last week by the Montgomery County Board of Health will force the Upper Perkiomen School District to push back the start of a hybrid learning platform for at least one week.

            On Friday, Nov. 13, the health department voted to require all county schools to remain in virtual or remote learning until Dec. 6.

            The night before, Superintendent Allyn Roche foreshadowed the decision during a regular meeting of the school board. He said the vote would delay the implementation of partial in-person learning at least one week while providing administrators another two weeks' worth of data.

            During the Nov. 12 meeting, Board President Kerry Drake called a special meeting for the week of Thanksgiving to finalize the district's plans to transition from full virtual to hybrid.

            At 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23, the members are expected to amend two action items that were approved last week, revising the district's Health and Safety Plan for a Hybrid Model for Learning and its school calendar to begin Dec. 7. The order includes the suspension of extracurricular activities and sports during the two weeks.

            According to the superintendent, the members will discuss the future of winter sports during the special meeting. Roche also said he will present updated metrics related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the county and the district. During his Nov. 12 presentation, the administrator said there's a possibility that the district may need to remain in the existing virtual model longer than expected.

            "We as a board and a district need to be cognisant of changes," the superintendent said. "We might need to reassess our plans to make sure they are viable."

            On Oct. 22, the members voted to approve a shift from full virtual to partial in-person learning. They set an implementation date of Nov. 30. However, increasing numbers of cases and positivity rates led the county health board to delay that plan for at least one week.

            The county board rendered its decision after hearing numerous comments during a meeting Thursday, according to Chair Michael B. Laign. He also said the board has reviewed dozens of emails from residents on this matter.

            "We want residents to know that we did not take this decision lightly. However, after examining the public health data and tracking the rise in COVID-19 case counts following Halloween, we believe this decision is in the best interest of K-12 students, teachers and staff in our schools, and our communities," Laign said, according to a news release posted on the county's website.

            The decision comes on the advice of the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH), and Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.

            Despite the uncertainty, administrators continue to prepare for a return to in-person learning in the coming weeks. Last week, the members approved a conditional action item reinstating six kitchen managers, 18 food service workers, one assistant manager, one district courier as well as six instructional aides and 10 cafeteria/playground aides.





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