The Blairsville-Saltsburg school board discussed and revised the district’s safety and reopening plan at Tuesday’s virtual meeting, including the purchase of face shields and cloth face masks for all students.
The board officially approved its plan last month, but several changes are expected to the document as information emerges in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the school year.
Superintendent Jeff Soles said other superintendents and state school officials discussed current issues recently and are expected to have another conversation in August, which will likely result in more updates as new recommendations are issued.
He said the goal is to bring all students back to school in the fall, but cautioned that the plan is constantly changing. He noted that a survey of families in the district showed more than 70 percent of respondents want school to reopen fully.
“There’s a lot of work going on to try to make that happen,” he said.
He said about 20 percent of families replied they are not comfortable sending students back for face-to-face schooling right now.
Of those, about half expect their children to attend Seneca Valley Cyberschool. The rest report looking into other options.
In the current “green” phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening, school will go back with in-person instruction five days a week. If the state moves to the more restrictive “yellow” phase, the district will use a hybrid model, where groups of students would receive in-person instruction two days a week, and virtual instruction for the other three days.
Students will be required to wear face coverings in school, Soles said. Options include the district-purchased cloth masks, which will be taken home by students to be washed; district-purchased face shields, which will be kept at school at disinfected each day by the custodial staff; or appropriate face coverings brought by students.
Areas will also be separated by plexiglass, he said.
Regarding transportation, families will be given two bus schedules, said board member Holly Gibson. There will be a schedule for regular bus runs, as well as a schedule for the hybrid model, in which students attend some days but not others.
Face coverings will be required on the bus.
The board also discussed relaxing the dress code for teachers, in an effort to make laundering the items easier.
Easily laundered items of clothing such as scrubs could be an option if desired, board members said.
During the activities committee report, director Connie Constantino noted that both Blairsville and Saltsburg have canceled their proms, which had originally been postponed to August.
The board also voted to purchase an air filtration system by Global Plasma Solutions for both campuses at a cost of $210,504.
The system is $128,000 less than the UV system that was under consideration by the board, said board President Rick Harper. It kills 90 to 95 percent of pathogens, he said.
The system, however, will not be installed until next summer.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
• Transferred $500,000 from the district’s general fund to the cafeteria fund. Also regarding the cafeteria, the board voted to increase the cost of school lunches by 10 cents. The cost will be $2.70 per day for elementary students and $2.95 per day for secondary students.
• Appointed assistant Saltsburg principal Michael Leasure as temporary acting principal to fill a vacancy.
• Accepted a grant from Tri-County Work Force in the amount of $52,316 for career readiness.
• Accepted the resignation of David Rodkey as the district’s cross-country coach.
• Approved the following involuntary transfers: Ashley Helgert, to Saltsburg Elementary as a kindergarten teacher; Michele Marra, transfer to Blairsville High School as a learning support teacher; and Leah Onorato, transfer to SES and Saltsburg Middle/High School as a learning support teacher.
• Approved the asphalt seal and paint bid from Jankovik & Son Asphalt for the Blairsville campus at a cost not to exceed $33,000.