Altoona Area School Board agrees on hybrid re-opening

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ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — During a zoom meeting on Tuesday night, the Altoona Area School Board voted to bring students back to class next month under a hybrid model, beginning Feb. 8.

The idea on the table was to start elementary classes and bring back secondary students one week later.

Superintendent, Dr. Charles Prijatelj said, “we don’t feel comfortable just bringing everybody in the lock, stock, and barrel all at once…We now know that the vaccine is probably not going to be available until at best, the week of the 16th, which means we’re already to March 1.”

The hybrid model will begin on Feb. 8 with elementary students and teachers. On Feb. 16th, they will allow the hybrid model to begin for secondary students.

Emergency Management Coordinator, Tim Hileman called into the meeting, explaining that now, vaccinations are available for any veteran staff members. He told the board that “Supply chains go through the federal level and are not connected to being distributed through the states.”

Another benefit for the district is that the school’s nurses and police officers are already vaccinated. Bus drivers will be ready to start working on February 1st.

An AASD board member says “Our community transmission numbers are dropping and at the same time, we’re increasing our vaccination ability at the rate in which we’re getting employees vaccinated and were developing immunity.”

Over 70% of the school district staff answered on a survey that they are willing to get the vaccine when it becomes available.

The board says they’re also working on fully virtual options for those who do not wish to return. In addition, they obtained UV lights for special education classes.

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