Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg School District hopes to return students to the classroom in April

Groups of Harrisburg students may return to the classroom in the spring.

Some Harrisburg School District students could be on track to return to the classroom before summer break.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday, the district offered a new expected date of return to in-person learning, April 6, pushing back what they thought, last month, would be a March return.

“This isn’t just about bringing students back for learning, it’s about re-acclimating our students to a learning environment,” Acting Superintendent Chris Celmer said.

The district would use a blended in-person, online model, Celmer said.

They would first bring back special education students and kindergarten through second-graders for a half-day schedule, he said. If that is successful, a second cohort of third- to fourth-grade students may return on April 18, also for a half-day schedule. Depending on how students are doing at that point, additional cohorts may be added.

However, Celmer stressed that families have a choice—return or remain virtual.

According to a survey conducted by the district at the end of January, out of 2,778 responses, 48% of families said they would send their student(s) back, 38% would not and 17% were undecided, Celmer said.

The school will send out a questionnaire in March for families to state their preferences. Those who don’t respond will remain virtual.

If district officials ultimately decide to bring students into school buildings in April, they will keep classroom sizes around 12 students, require masks, check temperatures regularly, and update HVAC systems.

Celmer said that the district would like to see coronavirus positivity rates in Dauphin County below 10% and incidence rates per 100,000 residents trending downward to a daily rate of 100 or less. As of Feb 12, the county was at a 10.8% positivity rate and a daily incidence rate per 100,000 residents of 184.

“The numbers have come down, which is positive,” he said. “We are going to continue to monitor what the health metrics and other factors are that could impact the date we are putting out this evening.”

For more information, visit the Harrisburg School District’s website.

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