EASTON, Pa. – On Tuesday, the Easton Area School Board of Education heard a possible plan to start returning lower-level students to full-time instruction.
District Superintendent David Piperato presented the proposed plan, which calls for in-person instruction four days a week, starting with students in kindergarten through second grade. Wednesdays would remain for remote instruction and allowance for maintenance to deep clean facilities.
The hybrid learning model currently offered throughout the Easton Area School District has students physically in school only two days a week.
"All mitigation strategies will continue to be mandated, including masks, cleaning and contact tracing," Piperato said.
The plan would be put into effect only after two consecutive weeks of moderate spread in Northampton County, he added.
"We will continue to phase in grade levels, if and only if, the county and district are both able to maintain a moderate and low spread of COVID," said Piperato.
In addition, students would remain in one classroom for the entire instruction day, with teachers moving from room to room when necessary.
Teachers and administrators would be required to double mask and maintain a six-foot distance from students whenever possible. Teachers would be provided personal protective equipment upon request and they would not be permitted to eat lunch with one another.
Finally, Piperato recommended that schools utilize all spaces in order to maximize social distancing.
No formal action on the matter was taken by the board during the virtual meeting. It will discuss the matter further at its March 2 workshop meeting.
In the meantime, Piperato said he will present his plans to the district's pandemic team, along with medical officials from St. Luke's University Health Network, at a scheduled meeting on Wednesday.
"I will be reviewing this plan with them to ask for their specific feedback," said Piperato. "I don't think we want to be taking steps to bring back students without our medical experts' advice," he added.
According to figures presented by Piperato, there have been 24 total positive COVID-19 cases in the district in the last seven days. There have been 48 total positive COVID-19 cases in the district in the month of February. Of those cases, 40 were students and eight were staff members.
Piperato said his plan is based on recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.