Pennsbury School Board Unanimously Approves Hybrid Reopen Plan

The Pennsbury School Board deliberates a scaffolded reopen plan at the Oct 21, 2020 special meeting.

The Pennsbury School Board has voted unanimously in an 8-0 decision to adopt a scaffolded, hybrid reopen plan. They made the call at Wednesday night’s special meeting.

In general, the plan is very similar to the model implemented in Bristol Borough and other local school districts.

Students will operating on a “Hybrid A/B” model. Each grade will be divided into two groups, A and B.

Those in group A will learn in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, while group B will learn in-person on Wednesday and Thursdays. All students will learn virtually on Fridays.

Students in Pre-K through 2nd grade will return to the classroom on November 12. Next, all students in grades three through eight will go back to class on December 7.

Finally high schoolers will still stay online through the end of the first semester and return on February 4, 2021. This is the date all students were originally returning to the classroom under the old plan.

A Pennsbury protestor holds a sign saying, “Special Needs need special attention! Not Virtual Learning!” Photo by Rick Rickman.

Additionally, all special education learners will learn in-person four days per week starting November 12. This addresses one of the major complaints raised at a Pennsbury protest in late September.

The overall plan is slightly different to the one proposed at last week’s Pennsbury School Board meeting. The only difference is students in grades seven and eight will return on the same day as sixth graders instead of in early January.

The vote appears to reflect a survey which found 73 percent of parents in the district preferred in-person learning. There will still be a fully remote option for families who want it.

One of the major points of contention between board members at Wednesday night’s meeting regarded high schoolers. Some wanted to allow the older students back in the classroom earlier than next semester.

“While I understand there are transition issues with moving in the middle of a semester, I think that there are a wide variety of issues with virtual as we are hearing from a lot of parents,” said board Vice President Christine Toy-Dragoni.

“Even if they get three weeks in December before the Keystone disruption, three weeks is three weeks.”

A motion to table the vote on Phase 3, which refers to the plan for high school students, until next month failed on a split 4-4 vote. However, the board plans to use February 4 as a “fall back” date and is considering looking at the issue again at their next meeting.