U-CF eyes full in-person classes

More Unionville-Chadds Ford School District students are returning to real physical classrooms this week, and more should start a return to brick-and-mortar classrooms next week.

U-CF School Board directors voted Monday night on a plan to get some middle and high school students back in real classrooms as of today, Feb. 23. Those students include all high school seniors and those identified as needing support or intervention. They will be back in their buildings for a full five-day school week. Middle school students identified as needing support or intervention will be in class for four days per week.

Those students will be “invited” back into the classroom, according to the plan. The invitation to return to in-person instruction is also extended to all second-grade students, effective March 15. Pre-first and first-grade students are invited back to the classroom beginning next Monday, March 1.

Before the vote, Superintendent of Schools John Sanville said the recommendation for the changes evolved from a series of six community conversations, adding that the new schedule “maximizes student in-person attendance while keeping six feet of social distancing.”

Sanville also said the district is now looking at models in which social distancing can be reduced to less than six feet, should the Chester County Health Department give the OK.

He said that school districts in both Chester and Delaware counties received letters from the Health Department, which said there would be a revision of schools' social distancing requirements based on transmission rates in their respective counties.

The plan the board voted on follows the current Chester County guidance calling for the six-foot social distance requirement when a community is in a “very high transmission level,” he said.

“We believe this is a good plan to safely bring additional students back to in-person schools…At some point in the near future, it is reasonable to expect that our transmission rates are going to drop from the very high that we’re at right now, to the high level of transmission,” Sanville said. “Once that happens for three consecutive weeks — which could be as soon as March 15 — we could transition to an instructional model that includes social distancing of less than six feet for students.”

He recommended to the board that directors consider voting on another plan with that in mind on March 8 that could be implemented on March 15 “should the numbers in Chester County dictate.”

In addition to approving the schedule change for in-person instruction, board members also approved the plan for spring sports that was discussed during the Feb. 8 work session.

That plan includes a league-only schedule for teams and the same safety protocols the district has been using since August, with athletes and coaches wearing masks during games and practices. Masks may be removed if players can maintain social distancing during outdoor events.

Other business

Directors voted to approve spending almost $40,000 to sand, paint, and refinish the gymnasium floor at Unionville High School, and to spend $1 million to replace the ventilation system at CF Patton Middle School.

Board members will also be voting next month on a contract extension for Sanville. That extension would run from January 2022 to January 2027. No specific dollar amounts were discussed during Monday’s meeting, but there would be no increase in compensation during the first year of the new contract. Increases after that first year would be based on performance. That vote is scheduled for March 18.

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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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