ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Allentown School District students and parents should find out later this month when their summer break will end, as the Board of Directors is set to vote on a start date for the 2021-22 school year.
During an Education Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday night, the board forwarded a request by the administration which contains two starting date options. The first brings students back Aug. 30 with a planned end date of June 9. The second option maintains the traditional start after Labor Day on Sept. 7 with a June 15 end.
Directors took a vote Thursday night on both options, with four voting for the earlier date, and four voting for the later date. The board will make the final decision at its April 22 regular board meeting.
In other news, directors forwarded a request for a contract with Events Staging, Orwigsburg, and Action Party Rental for their services at commencement ceremonies in June. The contract is in the amount of $38,430.22, including a $7,000 contingency fund if costs are exceeded.
Headphones for hybrid
The board also forwarded a request to purchase 7,025 headphones to support elementary and special education students in a hybrid environment. The district maintains the headphones will enable students to remain connected to online learning platforms while causing minimal noise and distraction to others in a hybrid classroom. The total cost is $135,231.25.
PSSA and Keystone tests
In other business, ASD recommended to directors that students take the Pennsylvania 2021 spring PSSA and Keystone tests this fall by taking advantage of the extended testing window, which ends Sept. 30.
In a statement to the board, Superintendent Thomas Parker said delaying the taking of the tests will enable the district to more effectively address "learning loss," which he said happened during the remote instruction period which began March 13, 2020 in response to COVID-19.
During the meeting, Parker said he still hopeful that tests would be cancelled altogether.
"The best outcome would be not to have the exams at all," Parker added. "My hope is that we'll get there and that there will be some relief...I think we serve our children better by giving them time to prepare."
Finally, the board advanced changes to the district's immunization and communicable diseases policies. It includes that all students must be immunized against specific diseases in accordance with state laws and regulations, unless specifically exempt for religious or health reason.
The changes are needed for the district to maintain a certificate of immunization as part of the health record for each student as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Any student not immunized will not be permitted to attend ASD, unless if they are exempted for the previously stated reasons.
Director Phoebe Harris was absent from Thursday night's meeting.