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Cornell updates mask policy for students and staff


By Carrie Moniot

The Cornell School District has revised its mask policy for students and staff members.

During a Jan. 10 meeting, directors voted 7-2 to adopt a policy highly recommending and highly encouraging masks for students and staff.

“We have to be careful, if we go that route, it does not mean we’re anti-mask,” Superintendent Aaron Thomas told board members.

Two other options on the table included continuing the current policy requiring masks, or a hybrid policy requiring masks in lower grades and recommending them for upper grades.

Parents are urged to continue sending their children to the bus stop with a mask, as face coverings will still be required on school buses in compliance with a federal order. All bus drivers will make masks available for any students who don’t have one.

The revised policy went into effect Jan. 18.

In a letter to parents, the superintendent stressed the district “will continue to be mindful of our spacing of students, we’ll ask that students continue to sanitize their hands frequently throughout the day, and we will continue our regular deep cleaning practices throughout the school building.”

The district has also purchased testing kits to be used on an as-needed basis by faculty and students. Parental permission will be requested before any testing is completed.

As of Jan. 10, Cornell had four active COVID-19 cases and a number of students out due to exposure-related issues.

“Due to our small size, we are having a different experience than larger schools. We continue to be thankful for the support and understanding of our families,” wrote Thomas in the letter.

In other news:

• Cornell approved the hiring of Christopher Nolfi as the elementary office secretary effective Jan. 3.

• Board members discussed adopting an Act 1 resolution that would give the district the option to increase real estate millage in excess of the adjusted index of 4.3% for the 2022-23 budget. State law requires this action to be taken by the end of January. “This is to say we can raise it. It doesn’t mean we’re going to,” said Director Darlene Abbott.

• Board Secretary Patrick Berdine went over the resolution to approve the deputization of the Coraopolis Borough and Neville Township tax collectors.

In both cases, Jordan Tax Service will be deputized. As Berdine pointed out, the deputization of a tax collector is a process that’s done every four years. Once Coraopolis and Neville Township approve the resolution, Cornell will offer its approval, as well, according to Berdine.

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