AASD votes 9-0 for students return

District will resume full time, in-person instruction March 15

The Altoona Area School Board unanimously voted Thursday to send students back to a full-time, in-person learning model starting March 15.

At its special meeting Thursday, just two parents addressed the board, but their message was powerful.

“I really urge you,” one mother of two high school seniors said, “please vote to bring them back.”

The other parent, a mother of two elementary students, was visibly emotional. She said virtual learning simply isn’t working.

“They don’t even enjoy being at home anymore,” she said through tears. “It’s a struggle to get them to do these videos. Please, let them come back.”

After a brief discussion on the precautions to be taken upon students’ return, board members voted. Board member Kelly Irwin Adams made her stance clear during the roll-call vote — “Please, yes.”

The decision to return full time and in person comes less than a month after students returned on a hybrid basis, with elementary students returning Feb. 8 and secondary students returning Feb. 16.

With students scheduled to return full time, the district is still offering a virtual option and Cyber Academy.

Upon returning on March 15, all staff and students will be required to wear masks. Assistant Superintendent Brad Hatch reported that the district has “a huge surplus of masks.”

Superintendent Charles Prijalelj chimed in —“Thousands.”

Prijatelj said 7,000 masks were donated to the district.

Social distancing will be enforced to the extent possible, he said, adding it won’t be easy.

“We will do our best to ensure the social distancing,” Prijatelj said. “In some situations, we will not be able to guarantee or ensure 6 (feet) of social distance, but at the same time, we feel that we will be able to handle it appropriately as we move forward.”

Before the meeting was adjourned, board member Rick Hoover addressed his colleagues.

“Listen, everyone knows this has been a ridiculous year,” Hoover said. “I think our employees should be seen as heroes. The amount of work they have put in, even during this (hybrid) schedule, this is unbelievable what’s been done. We may not have made many friends with the decisions we’ve made, but we’ve made decisions in the best interest of the school district, the students, the parents and every employee in the district.”

“I’m very proud I’m a member of this board,” he concluded. “Everyone voted their conscience, and I’m glad for it.”

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


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