Western PA school decides teachers will be in classrooms this fall, but students will stay home

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Students will be given the devices they need and have live, teacher-led lessons five days a week

MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Many schools are releasing tentative plans for students’ return in the fall. The plans are tentative because with the coronavirus, nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow let alone in a month. One school district in western Pennsylvania has already made its decision.

Reynolds Schools, located in Mercer County, will begin the year with online learning.

The district felt the governor’s decision July 1 requiring students to wear masks and stay six feet away from each other were major challenges.

“We didn’t feel it was fair, good, healthy, right for students and staff to have to wear a mask all day long and we thought it was going to be impossible,” Superintendent John Sibeto said.

He said teachers will be in their classrooms leading the instruction to students at home.

Kindergartners and first graders will get iPads. Students in 2nd through 12th grades will get Chromebooks. They didn’t have these devices when Gov. Tom Wolf closed schools in March.

That decision sent everyone scrambling.

“The teachers, the students, parents — we thought everybody did the best job they could but the bottom line, education suffered dramatically in those last two months,” Sibeto said.

Reynolds is putting its plan in place for classes to start August 31. Students will have live, teacher-led lessons five days a week.

The district is currently in a green county but it won’t have to worry about making adjustments if that designation changes.

“The consistency, the stability of what kids are going to have here at Reynolds, we think is going to be a big key to them, their families and education,” Sibeto said. “Then the only thing that can happen with us here is something good when we can start moving the kids back in.”

Reynolds has not approved a plan for sports yet. The teams are allowed to practice in small groups. The school board will decide in mid-August if they can play games.

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