Some students will re-enter classrooms on Monday in Hazleton Area schools, where all lessons had been held virtually up to now.
About 115 seniors will report to Hazleton Area Career Center, where they can take advantage of hands-on learning in the shops.
At three other schools, McAdoo-Kelayres, Drums and Valley elementary/middle schools, 56 students in autistic support classes also are scheduled to report. They will join their teachers and five classroom assistants, who had been laid off.
The 171 returning students are less than 2% of enrollment in the district, which counted 11,492 students as of Sept. 15.
Superintendent Brian Uplinger said Thursday that all parents and students who are eligible had been told that they can go to school on Monday. Students retain the option of continuing to study from home by taking virtual classes on computers or studying from packets of books and papers.
“We contacted all the families to make sure they wanted to send their kids back, make sure we allowed the parents to choose what educational platform they wanted to use,” Uplinger said.
The students invited to return first are those whom administrators believe benefit most from being in classrooms.
Then on Oct. 5, students in early intervention and pre-kindergarten programs will return to classes at Hazle Twp. Early Learning Center.
In ensuing weeks, Hazleton Area wants to allow students in other grades to return to classes, depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the area.
“Hopefully by the end of the month,” kindergarten through third grade might be in classrooms, board President Linda DeCosmo said.
At the career center, seniors will attend regular hours Monday through Friday.
Students in autistic support, however, will attend full days on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and half-day on Fridays. Wednesdays will be reserved for meetings and tests, Uplinger said in an email.
“We will prepare grab-and-go breakfast and lunches” for the returning students, Uplinger said. Bus service will be available for students in autistic support classes but not for seniors at the career center.
At the career center and Valley, McAdoo-Kelayres and Drums schools, maintenance workers will clean throughout the day. They are supplying those schools with additional protective equipment.
On Tuesday, maintenance workers plan to demonstrate an Altapure AP4 machine that disinfects everything in a room and is used in operating rooms. The district rented the machine to clean rooms suspected to contain the virus that causes COVID-19.
Families will get two tickets to football opener
Parents can watch tonight’s football game between Hazleton Area and Tunkhannock high schools from the seats at Harman-Geist Stadium.
Families of Hazleton Area players, band members and cheerleaders qualify for two tickets for the football home-opener, Uplinger said at the start of Thursday’s school board meeting.
No tickets are available for Tunkhannock fans.
The tickets are only for Hazleton Area adults, who can pick them up by showing identification at the ticket booth of the high school today. Children won’t be admitted.
“Masks are required in any of the events across the district, and also social distancing will be required,” Uplinger said.
Those who don’t have tickets can watch the game, which starts at 7 p.m., on WYLN TV 35.
For other sports this fall, families of participants also will be able to receive two tickets, Uplinger said.
Field hockey and water polo teams are scheduled to play Saturday. Prior to today, Hazleton Area hadn’t allowed spectators to be fair to all teams and stay within limits set by Gov. Tom Wolf. The governor wanted no more than 250 people at outdoor gatherings such as football games. But the governor’s limit of 25 people for indoor events meant that at water polo and volleyball contests, the reserve players couldn’t be inside the gym or pool, let alone spectators.
A federal judge struck down the limits in a ruling which the governor is appealing.
Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said the judge’s decision gives schools ability to set their own rules for spectators.
Hazleton Area Board member Edward Shemansky said the ticket plan is a work in progress. Through coaches, families will learn of how they can view other sports this fall.
Board President Linda DeCosmo said district officials will meet with people from Lehigh Valley Health Network to plan for safe spectating. Lehigh Valley provides athletic trainers for the schools. “That worked out well with the players,” DeCosmo said.