JAMESTOWN — Jamestown area schools will start the 2020-21 school year about a week later than planned and with full-remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school district posted Thursday on its Facebook page that the school board delayed the opening of school to Aug. 26. The district’s online calendar had the first day of school scheduled for Aug. 20.
“The difficult decision was also made to have all students participate in full-remote/online learning for the first 9-weeks of school,” the social media post said.
The school district said the decision was made to “protect all of our students and faculty while preserving continuity of education.”
The Jamestown Area School District’s school board voted to make the changes at its meeting Wednesday night, Superintendent Tracy Reiser said.
According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Jamestown ZIP code has had six confirmed cases of COVID-19 since early March.
The state says there have been fewer than five probable cases since March but has not released an exact number. Data on one to four cases gets redacted to protect patient privacy, according to the department.
“We would like to have the kids face-to-face,” Reiser said. “We thought a hybrid approach (a mix of in-class and online instruction) would be too difficult.”
The district is working on plans for computer device/textbook distribution to students as well as a plan for K-12 students to receive daily meals.
“Those are our main concerns right now,” Reiser said.
The tentative distribution date for computer device/textbook distribution is Aug. 24.
There are about 425 students in the Jamestown Area School District, and all of its students qualify for meal distribution, according to Reiser.
When schools shut down effective March 16, district officials used the high school as central distribution point for meals. The district has not yet determined whether it will use a central location or buses to distribute meals in the new school year.
“We want to make sure every child gets meals,” Reiser said.
The district plans to continue to monitor Department of Health case counts for COVID-19.
The school board will revisit whether to continue online instruction beyond the first nine-week period of the year, the superintendent said.
Reiser also confirmed a district staff member who was in contact with a person with COVID-19 in late July has tested negative. As a result, the Jamestown has restarted its open gyms this week with schedules for student sports.
Staff will supervise the gym programs under Pennsylvania Department of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines to keep COVID-19 in check, she said.
• Volleyball: Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Fridays from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
• Cross country: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
• Boys basketball (grades 9-12): Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
• Varsity golf: Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. at Pleasant Acres Golf Course
• Junior high girls basketball: Beginning Monday, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
• Girls basketball (9-12): Beginning Tuesday, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m.