Multiple teachers and parents spoke during the public comments portion of Wilmington Area School Board’s meeting Tuesday before a vote was cast to approved the district’s school reopening plan.
“Not returning to in-class instruction will be very difficult for me and also many of my colleagues, but I believe we need to give serious consideration to online instruction,” said Terri Marino, high school Spanish teacher.
Marino spoke to the board on behalf of a “majority” of teachers who are concerned about returning back to school. She mentioned 12 teachers who are “seriously considering” taking a medical sabbatical.
“Please understand that every one of our teachers wants nothing more than to work with our students in person,” Marino continued. “However, we need to be sure that our students, faculty and staff are safe.”
In the plan, the district will have a four-week, phased-in plan in which students from kindergarten through 12th grade will be separated into two groups — blue and gold — based on busing, class structure and other factors.
School starts the week of Sept. 1, but students only will be attending school from Tuesday through Friday that week.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, group blue will be in school while group gold attends online. On Thursday and Friday, the groups will switch.
During the second week of school, group blue will attend school in person all five days while group gold attends online.
The third week, the groups will switch.
During those first few weeks, the district’s pandemic transition team — which is comprised of the administration, teachers, nurses, parents and school psychologist — and school board will be meeting to determine whether the rotation schedule will continue or another plan would be put in place.
Parent Diana Caiazza spoke in favor of returning to school full-time in-person.
Board member Vanessa Russo said she would not vote in favor of any plan that did not have students going back to school full-time in-person.
Member Julie Ochs made a motion to table voting on the plan until August. The motion failed by a 5 to 4 vote.
A motion to pass the plan was approved by a 6 to 3 vote. The yes votes were Mark Shenker, Robert Curry, David Dawson, Lynn Foltz, Nancy Phillips and Kathryn Riley. The no votes were Russo, Ochs and Carol Harris.
The board will revisit the plan during its August board meetings and again in September.
Other aspects of the plan include:
•Parents will be provided a checklist to go over with their children before sending them to school, such as checking temperatures and observing other symptoms.
•Both students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, per statewide orders from health department.
•The district will use one-way traffic patterns — by the use of tape — whenever possible.
•Classes will be dismissed in a staggered manner to reduce the number of students in hallways.
•Handshakes, fist-bumps and high fives will be prohibited.
•Cafeterias will be used if staggered arrangements can be accomplished, including six-foot separation and not having students sit across from one another. If this cannot be accomplished, lunch will be held in classrooms.
•If a staff member or student tests positive or develops symptoms, the building will not be evacuated. The areas in which that person used would be closed and would not be used until disinfected.
In other news:
•Ali Ciavari was appointed to be the the dean of students. Bradi Rhoades was hired as the head cross-country coach. Morgan Ritchie was hired as an assistant volleyball coach. Julia Pozzuto was hired as band front adviser. Emily Artiles was hired as a substitute school nurse
•The following prices for school breakfast and lunch for this school year were approved: Regular-price breakfast for all schools, $1.20; reduced-price breakfast for all schools, 30 cents; adult breakfast for all schools, $1.75; elementary lunch, $1.85; middle school lunch, $2.10; high school lunch, $2.10; reduced-price lunch for all school, 40 cents; adult lunch for all schools, $3; milk for all schools, 50 cents.
•An agreement with Bayada Home Health Care, Inc. for on-site daily nursing care at an hourly rate of $45 per hour was approved. There was no increase from the previous year.
•An agreement with Glade Run Lutheran Services to provide students with educational needs was approved.