FLEETWOOD, Pa. – During the COVID-19 crisis, few issues have caused more debate than when and how to return students to full-time face-to-face learning. Tuesday night, the Fleetwood Area School Board gave its answer.
The board voted to provide four days of in-person instruction for all students beginning March 8, and to change the six-foot distancing requirement to three feet.
Wednesdays will continue with online learning to allow deep cleaning in the buildings. Full-time virtual learning will continue to be available as an alternative.
The vote was taken after amending an earlier recommendation to provide four days of face-to-face instruction for students in grades three to 12 who are in danger of failing for the year. The amendment also made moot another recommendation to provide face-to-face instruction for grades K-2 beginning March 8.
More than 20 parents addressed the board in person and by email. All were in favor of the full reopening. Many spoke of the growing psychological trauma that they said their children are experiencing. One mother spoke of her 13-year-old daughter starting to cut herself. A number of parents promised to withdraw their children from the district if schools did not reopen.
Superintendent Greg Miller said there were two obstacles to reopening — spacing on school buses and feeding children safely without masks. He promised that the administration would have solutions for those issues before March 8.
Tom DeAngelo, the district's information technology administrator, presented the IT budget proposal for 2021-22. He reported that the district is fully stocked with devices for every student and staff member, and that there are now 3,301 devices in the district.
DeAngelo also told the board that a second systems analyst will be added to the staff, and the position is included in the proposed budget of $777,000.
The board approved the Berks County Intermediate Unit's mandated services budget in the amount of $1,763,140 for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Fleetwood's portion will be $29,830.75, which represents no increase since 2020-21.
The board also approved a contract with Hogan Learning Academy to provide special educational services for an unnamed student at a cost of $400 per day for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
In addition, elected tax collectors were exonerated from any further attempt to collect unpaid real estate bills for the 2020 tax year.
The board tabled an agreement with the Berks County Intermediate Unit and John's Driving School and Auto Tags Inc. to provide behind-the-wheel instruction to district students who sign up through their program, at no cost to the district, through June 30, 2023.
The revised 2020-21 district calendar was approved by the board, as was the 2021-22 district calendar. Additionally, the board calendar was updated to change a committee of the whole meeting from June 8 to June 1.
Finally, the board approved the hiring of Daniel Krick, varsity boys volleyball coach, at an annual rate of $3,674.