The Bensalem School Board has approved a plan to begin hybrid learning in mid-November.
Members voted nearly unanimously in an 8-1 decision at Wednesday night’s meeting. Only board member Rachel Fingles voted against the plan.
Bensalem’s plan closely resembles several other hybrid models in the local area. It involves students of all grade levels returning to the classroom on November 16.
Most students will be in the class room two days per week. One group will meet Mondays and Tuesdays while the other will meet Thursdays and Fridays. All students will be online on Wednesdays.
The “Blue Cohort” has 2,676 students as of Wednesday, according to Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction Jason Bowman. The “Grey Cohort” has 2,571 students. Meantime, 1,320 students will continue learning completely online.
Families will also still have the option to remain entirely virtual. Special needs students are already learning in-person four days per week.
Bensalem Superintendent Samuel Lee laid out a few of the criteria and influences for the decision to reopen in a presentation to the board. Among those were guidelines from the state Education and Health Departments.
One of the crucial factors is the rate of coronavirus transmission in the county. Currently, Bucks has a “moderate” rate of transmission.
“We have an unwavering responsibility to protect the health and safety of students and staff,” said Lee.
Lee also stated there are currently eight employees and seven students in the school district who have tested positive for COVID-19. Three students in non-public schools have also tested positive.
However, the virus was not spread within schools, according to Lee. He stated there have been “no documented cases of intra-school spread in Bensalem or any Bucks County school.”
Before the final vote, School Board President Kim Rivera said she believes children need to be back in school.
“I’d like to thank everybody in the district for all their hard work on everything that they’ve done from the top on down,” said Rivera. “I’d like to thank our teachers for all their hard work. We know that it hasn’t been easy and we know that this is not going to be easy. But we’re Bensalem and we will get through this.”
Fingles, who voted against the plan, said she could not vote for it “because there is no plan.”
“I will not put my name on something when I don’t even know what that something is and not for lack of trying,” said Fingles.