Tyrone Students to Return to Full Time Instruction on October 19

The TASD School Board voted 8-1 in favor of the plan to abandon the hybrid model and return to full time instruction

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The Tyrone Area School District School Board voted 8-1 last night to eliminate the hybrid model of instruction and return to full time instruction beginning on October 19

A plan approved last night by the TASD School Board will return pre-kindergarten, middle, and high school students at Tyrone to full-time instructional learning beginning on October 19th.

Since the start of the academic year, students in middle and high school have been attending classes two to three days a week in a hybrid system of in-person and online instruction.

“Determining whether to change instructional models for the second marking period or to remain in the hybrid has been extremely difficult,” Estep said.

Determining whether to change instructional models for the second marking period or to remain in the hybrid has been extremely difficult”

— Superintendent Leslie Estep

Parents who choose not to have their children return to full-time instruction will be able to transition to full-time online instruction. Beginning on October 19 these students will not be required to be in school.  They will work at home from Canvas until the end of the marking period on October 29. No students will remain on the hybrid schedule after October 19.

Students who are currently participating in the cyber program but would like to return to full-time learning and PreK students may return school on November 2.

Board member James Raabe continued to reinforce his opposition to returning the students to full-time instruction at this moment, while the other eight members of the board voted in favor of the plan.

Students who attended the board meeting voiced their concerns and questioned the district’s plans to ensure student safety.

The students had significant concerns about the safety of students in classrooms, buses, lunch lines, lunches, and mask breaks.

The superintendent ensured that the safety of students, staff, and faculty is their top priority.

According to Estep, there were several factors that influenced the decision to return to full-time learning.

The board acknowledged that the number of COVID-19 cases has increased in Blair, Centre, and Huntingdon counties but pointed out that the rise is mainly due to rising numbers at PSU-Altoona, PSU-University Park, and various long term care facilities.

However, since the introduction of the hybrid instructional model, grades have declined significantly for too many students.

“At the midpoint of the first marking period, there were far more interim reports sent to students this year compared to the same time last year,” said Estep.

According to school counselors, many students are also struggling socially and emotionally.

In November and December, the hybrid system would have resulted in only 16 face-to-face teaching days. The return to traditional learning means that all students will have 32 face-to-face instructional days during these months.

Neighboring school districts also influenced the Tyrone School Board’s decision to return to full-time instruction. With the exception of the Altoona school district, all surrounding districts are either already doing full-time instruction or planning to return full-time instruction by November 2nd.

Estep acknowledged that social distancing will be a challenge in some classes and common areas, but each building principal is working with teachers to determine alternative areas to have those classes.

Accommodations are being made for the increased number of students and social distancing guidelines during lunches.

“We are purchasing several patio heaters for the HS deck so that students can choose to continue to use that outdoor space to eat lunch as the weather gets colder, we are purchasing some additional tables so that students can be spaced differently,” said Estep, “We are working on an alternative schedule for the middle school to reduce the numbers in the A lunch period, and we are determining an adequate overflow space for the middle school if needed.”

the administration will be constantly monitoring both what is happening within our schools and within our greater communities to evaluate our instructional models as we move into the winter months and reserves the right to make instructional model changes as conditions warrant”

— Superintendent Leslie Estep

With the students’ return, school officials plan to go above and beyond and evaluate day to day operations.

The school board also acknowledged the data obtained from a recent student survey done for a recent Tyrone Eagle Eye story. The board stated that they are taking all precautions to ensure the safety of the students and faculty.

“The administration will be constantly monitoring both what is happening within our schools and within our greater communities to evaluate our instructional models as we move into the winter months and reserves the right to make instructional model changes as conditions warrant,” Estep said.

Regardless of which instructional model parents choose for their students, Estep asked everyone to continue to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.

“To limit the spread of COVID-19 in the greater Tyrone area community, we encourage everyone to follow safety precautions at all times, including times when you are away from school and work.  A community-wide focus on health and safety will support the students we serve and help us to remain in a more consistent instructional model,” said Estep.