The November 5 Canon-McMillan School Board Meeting held at Muse Elementary was a special board meeting for the board to hear a presentation regarding a Revised Health and Safety Plan. The school district stressed on social media that while the board would hear the presentation and vote on other items on the agenda they would not be voting on this plan at this meeting. Parents were welcome to come and speak their concerns with the current hybrid model of education that Canon-McMillan utilizes and there were a few dozen in attendance.
Superintendent Michael Daniels started off the presentation by introducing the team that had worked tirelessly on the Revised Health and Safety Plan and presentation. This team of administrators included: Assistant Superintendent Scott Chambers, Business and Finance Director Joni Mansmann, Director of Special Education Becky Lieb, Director of Technology Justin Heckman, Director of Human Resources Timothy McCullough, Facilities Coordinator Jurdon Maier, Director of Support Services Matthew Harding, Cecil Intermediate Principal Bob Kleinhans, Canonsburg Middle School Principal Dr. Greg Taranto and Canon-McMillan Senior High School Principal Ken Crowley. Mr. Daniels went on to share that, while a plan for increased face-to-face instruction was being presented last evening,
“The Canon-McMillan School District Administration and the Canon-McMillan Education Association (CMEA), including the school nurses, cannot support a full return to school at this time.”
Mr. Chambers listed some pros and cons to both the current hybrid/full remote model and the plan for increased face-to-face instruction. Some cons to the current hybrid model included: students missing out on the psychological and social aspects of education and, of course, those students that are struggling to learn under the hybrid model as well. Some pros to the current hybrid model included: that the school district is able to implement health and safety protocols using the guidelines recommended by the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Dr. Taranto then shared different scenarios about how the virus could spread at a faster rate if the district returns to in-person instruction. Mr. Maier showed how social distancing is currently being implemented with dividers in the lunch room, six feet apart signs and hand sanitizers throughout the schools. He also mentioned that every building is sanitizing high-touch areas (doorknobs, etc.) hourly throughout each day, something that other schools might not be doing. Principal Crowley mentioned that other school districts that are trying to adopt the hybrid model are reaching out and asking Canon-McMillan School District for advice and asking to come witness the district’s current hybrid model, specifically the live online synchronous component, because of how successful the district’s teachers have been with implementing it.
So what is the plan that was presented? With the hopes of implementing it by January 19, 2020, the district’s plan is to bring students back for full in-person instruction four days a week, with Wednesdays being maintained as a full remote, asynchronous learning day. This plan also includes maintaining the option for students to continue receiving full remote instruction as well. The district wants to stress that with this plan, the recommended six feet of social distancing will not be achieved. The district has ordered additional Plexiglas barriers so that lunch tables can go from two students to a table to six. In addition, the district has been waiting for the delivery of more chrome books, but they are in such high demand, delivery keeps getting delayed
The district heard several parents and even a current student speak about their desire to return to school for the full five days a week. The district hears and understands the community’s opinions but also wants to remind the community that the health and safety of the students and staff is a paramount concern as well. As mentioned at the meeting and something that will continue to be stressed by the district, is that the district is committed to returning to five days a week of instruction if it can be done in a safe manner for everyone involved.