The Public School System is looking to amend more school policies to ensure maximum safety for its students and staff this upcoming school year, considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a Board of Education meeting last Tuesday, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said that he would like to ask the BOE to amend a number of policies, specifically instructional minutes and visitor guidelines, to enable PSS to maneuver through this new school year despite the pandemic.
The first policy Ada wants amended is instructional time to allow flexible scheduling for this school year calendar. “Flexible scheduling is to accommodate our shorter days, disaster-related alternating attendance days, and blended learning environment,” he said.
Another policy he wants changed is the procedural guidelines for school visitors. “This is to prevent non-school staff from entering the school buildings, and they must follow the COVID-19 protocol,” he said.
Another is student attendance. This is for student who are at high risk for COVID-19 or have family members who are at high risk. “They should not be penalized for failing to attend and must continue to receive remote learning,” he said.
Ada also wants the board policy on student transportation services be amended. “We are going to ask parents, as much as possible, to bring their children to schools but, if they cannot, then we have to allow the student transportation personnel to apply COVID-19 protocols on the bus so if a child does not measure up to normal temperature, they will not be allowed on the bus,” he said.
Ada also wants to be given flexibility to mitigate overcrowding. “This is to mitigate the overcrowding of some of our middle schools, our teacher student ratio to reduce commute time and for safety evacuation. So, If you can, allow me to adjust the school boundaries,” he said.
The last policy Ada wants amended is internet use in schools. “Currently, we are working on the internet access and the email use for employees and student use, along with a library media service. We need to update the policy language to adhere to today’s standards,” he said.
The board voted to allowed Ada the flexibility he needed on instructional minutes. However, according to PSS legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu, Ada has the discretion when it comes to the other policies he proposed and he could just have the board review them.