By Garret Roberts
After a year of practicing COVID-19 precautions, Montour School District has announced plans to move beyond the pandemic and begin its “return” to school this fall.
The guidelines for the 2021 and 2022 school year were presented by Superintendent Christopher Stone at the school board meeting July 15. While the school district remained open during the majority of the pandemic, the new changes would do away with many of the restrictions on student activities.
“The theme you’ll hear for the overview of the next year is to get ‘back to the future,’ let’s get back to what makes us Montour,” said Stone.
According to a survey sent to parents at the end of this year, 99% of Montour parents are planning to send their kids back to school full time in the fall.
Students attending classes within the Montour School District will no longer be required to wear masks during the school day or during extra curricular activities. This includes events such as sports, social events and assemblies.
Face coverings may continue to be worn based on family preferences, as well.
Children riding on school buses will still be required to wear masks when riding to and from school, per Pennsylvania’s updated public transportation guidelines. Students will also remain in assigned seating on the buses, which group together neighbors and siblings when possible to keep local spread to a minimum.
School buses will continue to receive daily general cleaning throughout the school year, as well as a deep clean twice a week.
Additionally, social distancing guidelines have been eased to a minimum of three feet between students. This aligns with the state’s guidelines, which encourage that distance to remain whenever possible.
Meal services, fountains
The district will continue to provide free meals to students throughout the school year, providing breakfast and lunch to students who need them. Students are required to eat these meals in the cafeteria.
Water fountains will also be turned on again for the next school year.
The district encourages students to bring a bottle and fill it as needed.
Students at the elementary school will have a more open time for recess as well, regaining play time both indoors and out. The playground will also be opened for use again, with children encouraged to practice proper hygiene before and after playing.
In other news, the district also stressed that some changes prompted by the pandemic experience will bring some unique programs to Montour schools.
The school district will begin its “WE Climb” initiative, which will evaluate teachers' instructional skills throughout the year. If an instructor is not meeting the district's standards, they will be referred to additional training.
The school district has also received a grant from the University of Pittsburgh that has allowed for another reading specialist, bringing the district's total to three.
The addition of cameras in each classroom has also changed what snow days will look like in the future. Rather than cancellations, the school will convert to an online format for those days and have students attend classes virtually.
Recognition events and other family based gatherings will also feature a live streamed element when possible, allowing families to view events online at their convenience.