KENWOOD — Penns Manor Area School District’s board of directors voted at a special meeting Thursday to delay the start of fall classes by five days, and to declare the COVID-19 pandemic an emergency as defined in the state school code.
“We originally had our school days starting for students on Wednesday, August 26,” Superintendent Daren K. Johnston said. “Now it will be Monday, August 31.”
Classes still will conclude for students on June 2 next year, as was the case on a calendar approved earlier this year.
There still will be 180 class days and 900 classroom hours for elementary students, 950 for high school students, but with some variations.
“Every single Wednesday that is in the school calendar, students will be dismissed early from school,” Johnston said. That’s 12:10 p.m. at the high school, 1:10 p.m. at the elementary school.
“I know your world has been upside down since March 13,” Johnston told board members as well as those watching on YouTube. “Everything we come and do every day is for kids.”
The emergency declaration allows the district to exercise some flexible instructional options:
• Students can attend the brick-and-mortar Penns Manor Area schools to receive instruction from district teachers, with health and safety practices in place that were passed earlier this year — and tweaked last month.
• Students can remain at home, receiving instruction from district teachers using Google Classroom and supporting software. Those students will receive instruction one school day later than the students in brick-and-mortar classrooms, because they’re watching a recording of the previous day’s classroom teaching that then will be uploaded to Google Classroom.
• Students can remain at home and receive instruction from a district teacher, or a teacher from Edgenuity, the instruction platform used for the past few years in the district’s Cyber Academy.
In answer to a question by school director Richard Polenik, if parents don’t feel comfortable with one option, they can shift their youngsters to another.
To “make sure our school year flows as smoothly as it can,” Johnston said administrators worked with the teachers for four weeks to develop the new plan. “It is going to be a new world for a teacher at Penns Manor,” he said.
A summary of the health and safety plans can be found on the district’s website.