Local school district continues with reopening plan despite mandate changes

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HOLLIDAYSBURG, BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Hollidaysburg Area School Board voted to take a hybrid approach to have fewer students in the building and less mask-wearing, but members say a recent state mandate has interfered with their goal of keeping students comfortable while safe.

The day after the school district decided to switch to a hybrid model, the Pennsylvania Department of Health made a change in its mandate. They’re now requiring students to wear a mask even if they’re sitting 6-feet apart.

Superintendent Robert Gildea believes the hybrid model should work fine — even though it’s original intent was to allow students to learn in a more mask-free environment. But the school district is planning on taking advantage of the mandate’s 10-minute mask breaks. Gildea says “we’re going to encourage our teachers to provide those masks breaks to increase the student’s comfort level and their ability to focus on learning.”

Board Member, Marissa Mitchell thinks this discussion needs to continue. She says “wearing masks all day was not apart of our original back to school plan and I wanted the board to discuss how that would affect things moving forward. It would have been nice to have all the information before our board meeting so we could decide what to do.”

Mitchell says she got no response on revisiting the plan. But still believes the hybrid model will work best.

The Hollidaysburg school year will go on with no delay. Teachers begin Monday and students will start next Wednesday.

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