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Union Area School District School Board approved its reopening plan during a special meeting Tuesday.

As a part of the plan, all district students will attend school virtually from Sept. 8 until Oct. 5.

On Oct. 5, the district will return to in-person instruction, if permissible. Parents can choose to continue remote, synchronous learning or start cyber-learning at this time.

“I understand that this decision will not be popular with every parent, but it’s difficult to have a decision in a situation like this that would be popular with everyone,” Superintendent Michael Ross wrote in a message to parents. “While parents may disagree with this decision, we’re committed to working together to make it work for everyone and to provide students with the best possible education during this experience.”

District staff will report to school from Aug. 24 through Sept. 4. Those days will be used for teachers better prepare for virtual and synchronous learning. These days will also be used to develop a distribution schedule to get Chromebooks and other materials to students.  

On the first day of school, students will begin live and synchronous learning. 

“I want to stress to our community that this will not be like the virtual learning that occurred last spring,” Ross said. “We realize there were many challenges to that plan, and we have been working to ensure that the start of school is the best educational experience possible for students.”

In-person learning will begin on Oct. 5 for those students whose parents choose to send them back to school.

“Some parents have expressed concerns about having students return to the building at all this school year,” he said. “Parents will still have the option to continue remote learning after Oct. 5 if they choose to do so.”

“I know some parents will feel angry or disappointed in this decision and those feelings are understandable,” he said. “What has made Union unique is that our community has always rallied around our school even in difficult times. It’s possible to disagree with this decision but continue to work toward the best possible outcome for all students.”

Some highlights of the health plan include:

•All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, per orders from the department of health.

•All staff and students will have their temperature taken upon entering the building.

•A cleaning and sanitizing schedule will be established. Additional custodial support will be added to ensure that surfaces, restrooms, classrooms and the playground are appropriately cleaned and sanitized. 

•Elementary students will remain with their class throughout the school day. Middle and high school students will be permitted to move from class to class as long as social distancing, masks and other mitigation protocols are in place. Additional time will be permitted for class changes to allow students to adhere to the directional flow of the hallways.

•When on the school bus, students will be seated starting in the back and moving toward the front. As long as the weather permits, the windows will be opened to increase ventilation. 

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