Greater Nanticoke Area plan: Two days a week in school, three at home

By Mark Guydish [email protected]

			
				                                Greater Nanticoke Area School District Superintendent Ron Grevera is seen in a file photo. At the start of a virtual School Board meeting on Thursday, Grevera outlined a plan for students to return to school separated into two groups.
                                 Times Leader file photo

Greater Nanticoke Area School District Superintendent Ron Grevera is seen in a file photo. At the start of a virtual School Board meeting on Thursday, Grevera outlined a plan for students to return to school separated into two groups.

Times Leader file photo

NANTICOKE — At the start of a virtual School Board meeting on Thursday, Greater Nanticoke Area Superintendent Ron Grevera outlined a plan for students to return to school separated into two groups.

Group A would be in schools Monday and Tuesday while group B would be there Thursday and Friday. No students would be there Wednesday, so the schools could be thoroughly cleaned, which would also be done on the weekend.

The board approved a motion to declare a state of emergency in accordance with the state School Code. Once approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the declaration will make the re-opening plan possible. The declaration notes the emergency exists for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, “but in no event for any period exceeding four years.”

The move allows the Grevera to to develop a plan ensuring the state-required 180 days of education, including 900 hours for elementary students and 990 for high school students. He may employ “any combination of in-person, virtual and distance learning as the superintendent seems appropriate to address the health and safety of students, faculty and community, and the learning needs of students.”

Grevera said the plan allows students to maintain social distance of at least six feet while in the classroom, which will mean they won’t have to wear masks during lessons. They will have to wear masks on the school bus, coming into school, and walking through hallways. They can remove masks in the cafeteria to eat.

Temperatures will be taken upon entering a building, and the board approved the purchase of eight temperature and face recognition scanners from 4 The Office at a cost of $15,160.

Grevera said that when students are not in school they will be expected to do 5-1/2 hours of school work each day.

In grades Kindergarten through 5, students will be in the same room with the same teacher all day. In grades 6 through 8, teachers will travel to the classrooms while students remain in the same room. In high school, students will change rooms but must wear masks in the halls.

The plan works with little modification whether the county is in the green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s restriction system or in the yellow phase. If the disease infection rate picks up and the county is moved back to the more restrictive yellow phase, the only big change would be to have students eat breakfast and lunch in their classrooms. Being in the red phase would require the closing of schools completely.

“We have to work together as a community to do the best we can,” Grevera said, urging parents to keep children at home if they develop symptoms, and to inform the district if a child is diagnoses with COVID-19.

One of the reasons to limit travel between halls, he added, is to make it easier to do “contact tracing” if someone tests positive, thus potentially limiting the disruption by figuring out who may also have been exposed. The state is expected to release more guidance on contact tracing Friday.

“This is going to be with us all year,” Grevera predicted, adding that the district will incorporate lessons on social distancing, masks and other steps required to avoid the spread of the disease.

The board also approved a plan for the start of athletics, similar to plans adopted by other area districts by requiring masks when not working out, training in small groups and frequent sanitizing of equipment, among other things. The plan will be posted on the district website, and sports schedules are being posted at gnaathletics.com.

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Mark Guydish
About Mark Guydish 220 Articles
Mark Guydish is the seventh of nine children born in West Hazleton. He earned his degree at Penn State, ran a bike shop, bicycled across the country, and worked as a paid EMT before joining the Times Leader in 1995 where he met and married feature writer Mary Therese Biebel. He has covered most beats, done editorial page work, columns, graphics and most recently "test kitchens" with MT. His main beat is education.