PENNSBURY >> The school district will enter phase three of its reopening plan on Tuesday, Feb. 2 when it welcomes high school students back with a hybrid learning option.

Students who opt for the district’s Hybrid Learning Plan will attend two days per week in-person instruction with three days at home in a remote learning environment.

The students will be divided into two groups, with half coming to school on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half coming to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They will spend the other three days in remote instruction, including a combination of live support (synchronous) and independent work (asynchronous).

February 2 will mark the first time since the pandemic began almost a year ago in March 2020 that live instruction will be taking place at the high school in Fairless Hills.

In preparation for the return to in-school learning, orientation for new students and freshmen will take place on Friday, Jan. 29 at PHS. Students enrolled in Cohort A will attend from 7:20 to 9:50 a.m. with students in Cohort B attending from 11:30 to 2 pm.

“I’m thrilled to death that our high school students will be making their way back. So all students in Pre-K to 12 will now have the opportunity to be in a hybrid model,” said Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula.

In addition to hybrid, students in grades 9 to 12 will continue to have the option of remaining in a 100 percent virtual learning environment under the district’s reopening plan.

The district began the school year with every student returning to class in a virtual learning environment.

In early November, the district launched the first phase of its reopening plan, offering a hybrid learning option to specialized learning students and students in Pre-K to Grade 2. In early December, the district extended the hybrid option to grades 3 to 8 with phase two of the reopening plan.

The ultimate goal continues to be a return to traditional in school learning, but that won’t happen, said Gretzula, until district administrators see a significant reduction in case counts and vaccines are being widely distributed.

“It was our hope that vaccines would be rolling by February and our case counts would be down,” said Gretzula. “Right now our case counts are still very high and vaccines are dripping out into our community.”

Gretzula added that when vaccines do become available, the school district is ready to move forward with an immunization program.

“Provided that the feds get the vaccines to the state and the state gets it to the county level we’ll be in position,” said Gretzula. “If we can do that over February and March and the numbers are coming down, it would always be my hope to get our kids back who want to be back,” he said.

In other district news, board member TR Kannan announced that the board will be meeting in executive session on Feb. 23 to review applications for the job of superintendent and to begin the process of narrowing the field of candidates.

The district is being assisted in its search by the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, which officially posted the job opening this month and has begun accepting applications.

Applications are due on or before February 14 with the successful candidate starting on or before July 1, 2021.

According to the job posting, the ideal candidate must be able to demonstrate building meaningful relationships with students, staff and community stakeholders; excellence in academics, instruction and technical education; a strong comprehension of school safety protocols; and a commitment to social and emotional learning.

The successful candidate will also be student-centered, an innovative educator, a strong leader, a team player and an excellent communicator.

In September, current superintendent Dr. William Gretzula announced his intentions to retire at the end of the 2020-21 school year. He is in the second year of a four and a half year contract with the district, which extended to June 30, 2023.

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