PENNSBURY >> Under an updated health and safety plan to be voted on by the school board this week, when students return to the classroom on August 30 masks will be required for K to 5th grade students and strongly recommended for 6 to 12th grade students who are unvaccinated.

The district’s new superintendent, Dr. Thomas A. Smith, announced the pending updated measures in a letter to district parents on August 11.

“We are excited to return to a full-day, five days per week, in-person program, beginning on August 30,” writes Smith. “Due to the increase in the COVID-19 virus, we are reviewing our in-school health and safety protocols and adjusting them accordingly to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

Smith said the district is “committed to mitigation efforts that will minimize the spread of COVID-19, specifically the Delta Variant.”

The district’s Health and Safety Committee has been meeting to update the draft Health and Safety Plan, which will be presented for review and approval at the Aug. 19 school board meeting.

The plan, said Smith, is intended to be a “fluid document” that will be updated in response to changing transmission rates and/or local, regional or state guidance. 

The updated plan includes the following mitigation efforts: 

● Required mask-wearing for all students Prek-5 and strongly recommended for unvaccinated students and staff in grades 6-12. 

● Required mask-wearing on school buses (as required by the CDC). 

● Additional changes to mask-wearing protocols will be based on local cases and/or local, regional or state guidance. ● Distances of at least three feet or more will be maintained wherever possible. 

● Notification and modified contact tracing and quarantining will continue. Details will be shared prior to the start of school. 

Schedules and Transportation 

● Beginning on Thursday, August 19 high school schedules will be available. ● Beginning on Friday, August 20 student schedules, elementary class placement and bus stop information for all students will be available through the Pennsbury Home Access Center (HAC). 

● The information will also be available using a mobile app. 

● Parents are encouraged to access their accounts prior to August 19. 

Mental Health Supports 

In his letter, Dr. Smith also outlines a number of mental health supports being implemented by the district.

“We recognize the impact the past 18 months has had on our families, staff, and students. Please take the time to speak to your children about their mental wellness and any issues they may be facing,” writes Smith.

“We are committed to working with our teachers, school counselors, and staff to support the mental health and wellness of our students. Our counseling department has developed a list of resources for families.”

In an effort to support families who would like an on-line program, Smith said Pennsbury will offer the Cyber Academy at Pennsbury (CAP) for students in grades K-12. The program differs from the remote learning program offered to all students last year. It is presented as a fully asynchronous program which offers students the flexibility to learn and study in a self-paced manner with submission deadlines for assignments. 

Smith closes his letter by thanking the community for its continued support of the Pennsbury School District “as we prepare to welcome back over 10,000 students into our schools. 

“We are working diligently to provide a safe and comprehensive educational program for all of our students and staff when they begin to return on August 30,” said Smith.

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