AASD to discuss learning plan

Vote expected on sending students back to classes

The Altoona Area School Board on Tuesday scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Jan. 26 to revisit a return to school plan.

That meeting will be a working session where a new motion is anticipated regarding whether to send students back.

On Thursday, the board voted 5-4 to remain on a virtual learning model until two weeks after the first round of staff and teacher vaccinations.

It remains unclear when these vaccinations will take place, and in the meantime, some parents are upset by the prospect of their children continuing to miss out on the opportunity to learn in-person.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, only five protesters gathered outside the Altoona Area Junior High School library, despite a petition to send students back to in-person learning racking up hundreds of signatures.

Three mothers held signs that expressed their displeasure with virtual learning. One sign read, “Why aren’t we talking about the dangers of distance learning? Mental health,” echoing a sentiment shared by fellow parents during the public comment session at the special board meeting last week.

Drivers on Seventh Avenue honked in approval as mothers of students stood at the corner, facing the road as they held their signs.

One mother, who identified herself as Crystal Oakes, likened virtual learning to a step below cruel and unusual punishment. “It’s like basically putting them in solitary confinement in a prison,” Oakes said.

Another mother, who asked not to be identified, said her son, a normally stellar student, is being “held back” by virtual learning.

The school board also voted Tuesday 6-3 in favor of moving the proceeds from the sale of the William P. Kimmel Alternative School to the capital reserve fund. The net proceeds of that sale amounted to over $657,522. Board members voting in favor were Vice President Frank Meloy, Mike Baker, Dave Francis, Rick Hoover, Ron Johnston and Kelly Irwin Adams. Votes against were from President Sharon Bream, Eric Haugh and Ed Kreuz.

Mirror Staff Writer Andrew Mollenauer is at 814-946-7428.


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