BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Bethlehem Area School District is doing a good job of containing the spread of COVID-19, Superintendent Joseph Roy said Monday, but the district is fighting to keep some students engaged with hybrid and full-online learning.
"We have students who are here on the two days they're supposed to be and not on, on the off days," when they are supposed to be working virtually, Roy said. Some students whose families chose full-time virtual learning "aren't connecting," he said.
"Often the students who need school and the connection with teachers the most are the ones who are not engaging," he said.
The district's hybrid and cyber learning is running well, but "it's not where we want to be," he said.
"We want to be five days a week, we want everybody in," Roy said. When that can happen depends on the spread of the virus.
In other business, the board approved a reduction in the number of community service hours required of the Class of 2021. Because of the pandemic, the required 60 hours of service to non-profit groups over four years of school was cut in half to 30.
The board approved the cut in hours unanimously. Many non-profit groups such as museums and service organizations that provide opportunities for volunteers operate for fewer hours or with limited public contact because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two elementary school students and one at a middle school have active coronavirus cases, Roy told the school board at its meeting Monday. Two transportation department employees and a student who attends school online also have tested positive.
"I think we're fortunate that we have only three active cases in the schools," he said. Roy said the district's efforts to maintain distance between students has helped, and that wearing masks is essential.
The BASD will send parents a survey to gauge how the community views the hybrid and fully virtual programs, Roy said.
Board President Michael Faccinetto said that as of Monday, residents with questions can choose to speak to the board instead of typing comments in via Zoom's question-and-answer feature to be read aloud. The format remains the same, he reminded viewers.
"The purpose of courtesy of the floor is for the public to address the board and not get into a lengthy back-and-forth dialogue," Faccinetto said.
Bethlehem resident Lynn Olanoff asked about whether the school district would use new quick tests for the virus. Roy said the schools are not approved testing sites and that the district will confer with the state about the use of quick tests if they become available.
The board, which does most of its work in committee meetings, completed Monday's session in about 35 minutes.