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JCSD gives new plan for school year

New reopening plan to begin September 8

MIFFLINTOWN — In response to new state mandates, Juniata County School District leadership has proposed a revised school reopening plan that moves the start of the school year to Sept. 8.

Superintendent Gary Dawson proposed the plan to the district’s board of directors Wednesday during its workshop meeting that would bring their plan more in line with that of neighboring Mifflin County School District.

In addition to a later start, the plan includes a four-day in-person, one-day virtual instruction schedule.

The plan change came after the district received new guidance on how to keep students and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic as classes resume for the fall semester.

The guidance recommends a specific teaching/school style based on the number of positive cases.

“Those new ratings would come out every Monday, and that’s supposed to be one piece school districts use to decide if its appropriate to stay their course or change to make their educational delivery more restrictive due to community-level health circumstances as opposed to a statewide mandate,” said Dawson.

The new plan “made us pause and take a significant look at our reopening plans moving forward to decide if this has enough of an impact,” he said.

Dawson said the new plan involved discussions with leaders of the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology (operated through Mifflin County School District), which educates about 100 Juniata County students.

Mifflin County School District is holding an emergency board meeting at 7:30 p.m. today to discuss similar issues.

Dawson said most of the district’s plan will stay intact with some modification.

If approved, changes would include moving the start of the school year back to Sept. 8, changing reopening to a four-day in-person, one-day virtual plan.

The plan would have students in the classroom Monday through Thursday for in-person instruction and utilizing virtual school options on Friday, when the district would do a “deep cleaning” of buildings.

Additionally, Dawson said teachers would prepare for the possibility of moving to a more hybrid schedule if rising case counts deem it necessary.

That schedule would have half of students attend in-person on Monday and Tuesday and half attend Wednesday and Thursday.

Fridays would still be virtual days.

“This would lower our student populations by half in every building. It would allow us to better implement social distancing and to stay within guidance from the state,” Dawson said.

The district is also looking at additional cyber options through Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 8.

Juniata County School District’s voting meeting will be held at 8 p.m. Aug. 20.

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