Wilson School District in Berks

SPRING TWP., Pa. – At Monday night's meeting of the Wilson School Board, members of the school's administrative team gave an informational presentation on new COVID-19 guidance and closure metrics for school districts.

The guidance is provided by the Pennsylvania education and health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The presentation also included up-to-date information on academic and social-emotional student success.

Superintendent Richard Faidley explained the new regulations for school districts operating in counties such at Berks, where there is substantial community spread.

Faidley said the Wolf administration announced that all pre-K to grade 12 public schools in counties with a substantial transmission level for at least two consecutive weeks must attest that they have committed to safety measures to ensure the safety and well-being of students and educators.

Board President Brad Hart and Faidley signed the required attestation form, which allows the district to continue to offer in-person instruction while in substantial community spread.

The move commits the district to comply and enforce orders requiring universal face coverings and to follow the recommendations following identification of COVID-19 cases when they occur within the public school entity.

Andy Hoffert, director of student supports and services, updated the board on the new metrics and protocols introduced by the state to provide guidance when a school building will need to close for a short period of time in the event of cases of COVID-19.

The number of cases that triggers a short-term closure varies based on the size of the population in a building — small (fewer than 500 students), medium (500–900 students), and large (more than 900 students).

Board member Amy Kennedy commented that she believes the guidance is "misleading because it doesn't give a true picture of the number of cases in the district," since multiple cases in a household count as only one case for the purpose of remedial action.

"It's the clearest direction we've received so far from the state," Hoffert responded.

Hoffert also noted that cases will be reported on the date of symptom onset or positive test date, not on the notification date. In addition, only positive cases that result in potential exposure in a building or that result from exposure in a building will be reported.

Christopher Trickett, assistant superintendent of secondary, told the board that while there are successful students in all the learning modes, the number of students struggling compared to last year is double. Remote students are absent and failing at twice the rate of in-person learners.

Other business

The school board reappointed Brad Hart as president and Steph Kocher as vice president for 2021.

The board also approved the retention of John Miravich and Fox Rothschild LLP as solicitor for 2021, with a retainer fee of $10,000 for the year and hourly rates of $190 for attorney time and $210-$225 per hour for special services. This represents no change in fees and rates.

Edna Carroll, the superintendent's administrative assistant, was approved as board secretary. Also, all non-officers of the school board were appointed as assistant secretaries.

Kara S. Schmidt was approved to perform an independent education evaluation at a fee not to exceed $4,750.

Also, the board approved a service agreement with Malvern Academy, formerly known as the Progressions School, at a rate of $182 per student per day for the 2020-21 school year.

The board voted to accept, with gratitude, a donation from Nick Camacho of five Amazon Kindles to be used in the library at Wilson West Middle School, as well as the donation of approximately 7,500 custom-designed cloth masks with the Wilson logo from Mask America's Kids, whose founder and CEO is Wilson alumnus Dave Downey.

In addition, Jason Gibble was approved as the high school wrestling coach at a salary of $6,354.

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