U-CF to vote on school opening

Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board directors will be voting next week on whether or not to reopen schools for the upcoming school year. Schools have been closed since March when Gov. Tom Wolf ordered them closed along with other state government offices and some business.

Students had been attending online classes until the end of the last academic term, and now a decision needs to be made on what to do for this year, continue with online classes only or use a combination of online and in-person classes at the schools.

The consideration is one of physical health, based on concerns of COVID-19, and of mental health based on a lack of socializing. Tom Hoffman, the director of curriculum and instruction, said during the board’s July 13 meeting that “A significant number of parents were worried about their children’s mental health… Limited social interaction during the school closing, we know how important that is for kids.”

Leah Reider, the director of pupil services, also said that one of the recommendations from a district-wide survey included finding a way to balance synchronous and asynchronous education. Synchronous instruction, while online, is done in real-time as if the students are in a class in front of a teacher. Asynchronous instruction involves students doing their course work on their own time. Another recommendation would be to have students check in daily and maintain a daily schedule with live Zoom lessons.

More than 2,500 people — parents, students, and staff —responded to the survey. In that survey, 70 percent of the respondents said they want a return to brick and mortar schools, while 13 percent indicated a preference for continuing distant learning using the Unionville-Chadds Ford Virtual Academy.

Findings may be found here.

Board members scheduled a vote for Monday, Aug. 3, at 7:30 p.m. That session will be conducted via Zoom.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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