By Crystal Burns
Barring any setbacks, Bradford Special School District students will return to school Monday, Aug. 31. The district has been operating at Level 1 since Aug. 19, with all students attending virtually.
Director of Schools Dan Black discussed the decision with the school board at the district’s Aug. 24 meeting, saying there were seven positive COVID-19 cases and 71 students quarantined that dropped the district from Level 3 (in-person learning) to Level 1 (virtual learning). Black said the biggest issue facing all school districts in the county and many across the state is that there is no formula to show when districts should change levels of instruction.
“I doubt this will be the last time we face this question,” Black said during the board work session prior to the meeting. “There is no good answer.”
During the meeting, Black said, “It would be wonderful if our state could determine some kind of formula for us to put in all our numbers and know where we are. We don’t have that.”
Board member Rich Cunningham said his concern was jumping from Level 1 to Level 3, bypassing Level 2, which is a hybrid schedule of in-person and virtual learning. Students are broken into two groups to attend in-person school on an A/B schedule. Group A attends Monday and Wednesday, and Group B attends Tuesday and Thursday. Friday can be used for remediation and/or enrichment opportunities.
Black said the main areas of concern during the quarantine were in the junior high and high schools, where it’s harder to keep students socially distanced in the classrooms and the hallways. However, he said he believes all of the district’s positive COVID-19 cases originated outside of the school.
He and Kelly Knott, principal of Bradford Elementary, said elementary students need to be in front of their teachers and need the routine that in-person school provides.
“I feel like it’s best for our kids to come back,” Knott said during the work session.
During the board meeting, Knott added, “Our kids are ready. We’re ready to bring our kids back.”
Black told the board that administrators had learned from the two-week quarantine and would attack any future outbreaks of COVID-19 differently if possible. He said schools would look at quarantining individual classrooms and/or grades or even putting one school on an A/B schedule while leaving the other school in person.
“These last two weeks, we’ve looked at some things that I think are going to help us down the road,” he said.